Glencar Lake (and the accompanying Glencar Waterfall) straddle the Sligo/Leitrim border. The lake is approx. 2.5 kilometres long and is nestled into the glacial Glencar valley which was formed during the last ice age.
To the right of the image you can see the Kings Mountain which along with Benbulben
make up the Dartry mountain range. To the left lie the Crockaun & Cope Mountains and what some locals refer to as the ‘The Protestants Leap’.
Legend has it that during the rebellion of 1641, a battalion of troops under the control of Colonel Hamiltion were on route back to their garrison at Manorhamilton Castle after making a raid on Sligo town where they burned Sligo Abbey. Disorientated in heavy fog on the slopes of Cope Mountain, the troops were approached by a man on horseback who offered to guide them to safety. However rather than escorting them out of harms way, their would-be savior ushered them at great haste over the edge of a cliff in to their deaths in the valley below.
The saga is retold in a short story by W.B. Yeats called ‘The Curse of the Fires and of the Shadows’.
Glencar valley also features prominently in Yeat’s poetry; in the poem ‘The Mountain Tomb’ he draws inspiration from a magical characteristic of the valley whereby in stormy weather strong winds will often blow cascading waterfalls back up over the ridges of the mountain, the resulting spray seems to dance in the wind: ‘The cataract smokes up the mountainside’.
The Glencar valley is also evoked in Yeat’s mythical poem The Stolen Child:
Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand