Torc Waterfall: A Folktale of Cloghereen, Ireland

Pinpoint Location: Cloghereen, County Kerry / Map data ©2017 Google

This folktale from Cloghereen tells the tale of Larry Hayes, who could not keep a secret for the life of him.

A long time ago, the world was full of all sorts of enchantment and bedevilment; good people and spirits, and phookas. And, if a man vexed one of them, he might as well throw himself into the middle of Poul an Iffrin.

About that time, there lived at Cloghereen a strong farmer called Larry Hayes; a decent, but unlucky man. As misfortune would have it, he couldn’t put a cow or sheep upon his little farm without finding them torn to bits in the morning.

At last, he determined to watch the farm for one night, though he was mighty frightened of the good people and the spirits.

As he walked about the field, he suddenly noticed a man standing close beside him. Larry gathered his courage and began to talk to the man, but, all at once, the man vanished, and a big wolf stood before him instead.

“Who are you? Where’s the man that was here a minute ago?”

“I’m that man,” the wolf replied, “I’m enchanted, and it was I that killed your sheep. But if you’ll follow me, I’ll make you a rich man. Don’t be afraid, for no harm shall come to you.”

Larry agreed, and the wolf brought him to a big black rock (where the waterfall is now). Changing once more into a handsome young man, he opened a door hidden in the rock and took Larry into an elegant parlour.

Larry was fed plenty of beef and mutton and whisky, and afterward the enchanted man showed him a room full of gold. Larry was delighted to receive a big bag filled with it, and even more so with the offer to return for more whenever he pleased.

“There is one rule,” the enchanted man said, “If you keep all you saw toning a secret for seven years, all you do shall prosper; but if you tell anyone, we will both be destroyed.”

“I will keep the secret,” Larry said, making his way home.

His neighbours wondered to see Larry Hayes grow so rich all at once; and so did his wife Nell Flanigan. She often asked him where he got the gold, but he kept his secret faithfully. So, one night, she followed him, and saw him go into the rock. When he came out, she pestered him until he was obliged to tell her the whole story.

Immediately, the wolf appeared on the top of the rock.

“We’re done for!” he roared.

The mountain shook as the wolf burst into flame. Running to the he top of Mangerton, it plunged into the lake; but the water burst a hole through the side of the bowl, creating the waterfall that can be seen today.

Larry Hayes and his wife managed to get out of the way of the water; but afterward they quickly became poorer than ever.

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  1. A man called Colonel Herbert did his best to find the gold once. He turned the course of the fall (you can still see the cut he made in the mountain). He claimed he only wanted to turn a mill with the water out of the Devil’s Punchbowl, and have a view of the fall from his parlour windy. But the locals believed this an attempt to blindfold the people; for, when he couldn’t find the door in the rock, or the cave full of gold, he just let the stream take its own course again.


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