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Ballisodare Northwestfest

Kayakers plunging down the waterfall in Ballisodare

Ballisodare waterfalls
Kayaker plunging down waterfall

I was on my way from Strandhill to Sligo when I passed through Ballisodare on Sunday morning. Many onlookers stood on the side of the road and looked at the river and the waterfalls. My curiosity was piqued and I looked for a parking space on the main road next to the river. A few seconds later I saw why so many people were gathered on the river bank near the Ballisodare waterfall.

Brave kayakers rowed in the raging river and plunged down the wild rapids and waterfalls in their small boats. I went back to the car and got my camera with the 500mm telephoto lens. Unfortunately it was only possible to take photos from above the waterfalls, there was no possibility to stand down on the bank as the area was blocked by a fishing club.

Ballisodare waterfalls

It was great fun to watch the kayakers daringly plunge down the waterfall. A spectator told me that this event was taking place for the second time as part of Northwestfest.

The start is at the bridge in the centre of Ballisodare. The river flows wildly and quickly through different gradients to the large waterfall just before reaching the Atlantic Ocean. After the kayakers have plunged around seven meters into the depth, they emerge again after a few seconds in the foaming water.

At first you only see the paddle sticking out of the water, then the kayaker's helmet and finally the boat emerges unscathed again.

On this Sunday morning only paddlers who have the necessary experience, who can navigate absolutely safely and holding the class 5 certificate for "white water" are allowed to participate.

The term "white water" refers to the flowing water that is usually found in rivers and can vary in difficulty from grade 2 to 5 and originates from the way the water speeds up and swirls or rushes over obstructions due to a change in gradient and an increase in the number of obstacles the river experiences.

What looks spectacular and dangerous to the spectator is more of a minor challenge for the kayakers, as the father of one of the participants told me. He said this waterfall is more of a toy.

So you don't necessarily have to be called Rafa Ortiz or Dane Jackson, who are quite popular kayakers, to conquer this waterfall, but I still prefer to stand dry-footed on the bank and photograph the daring athletes.

One second before plunging down the waterfall.

If you are interested in kayaking, a few links below may will help you:

Some photos of the event in Ballisodare in black & white and colour as framed artwork to purchase.

Website of kayaking in Sligo, highly recommend.

The top 10 for kayaking in Ireland shown on this website called "Ireland before you die". As the title implies, you will find much stuff to do before laying to rest.

Pretty well designed website for all interested in kayaking, from beginners to expert. Offering tours and courses.

Website of paddling magazine about Ireland, very good research in kayaking activities in Ireland.

Website of Irish White Water with very good descriptions about rivers for kayaking including links to river gauges, alerts, forums and more. Unfortunately the latest update on events was in the year 2013.


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Nov 07, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

How can we not love to see pictures of our competitors for the weekend!

Thank you for stopping by and hopefully we see you again next year for more awesome shots!!!

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