Powerscourt Water-Fall in the County of Wicklow Ireland

View of Powerscourt waterfall from the valley below. A grassy slope and tall trees are in the foreground. Two figures, one sitting and one standing, are on the left-hand side of the image, under a tree, observing the waterfall.

Inscribed in Image

  • Caption outside of boundaries of image – Powerscourt Water-Fall in the County of Wicklow Ireland.

Image Details

Genre Landscape
Technique Engravings
Subject(s) Nature
Geographical Location
  • Powerscourt Waterfall - Named locality
  • Wicklow - County
  • Leinster - Province
Keywords(s) Cliffs, Hats, People, Rivers, Trees, Waterfalls
Colour Monochrome
Dimensions 16.8 cm x 16.6 cm
Published / created 1769

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account Hibernia Curiosa
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy opp. p. 142
Source copy National Library of Ireland J.9141.BUS/1769
Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

I will now conduct you to one of the greatest beauties, of its kind, perhaps, in the world, the water- fall in the demesne of lord Powerscourt, in the county of Wicklow, about 14 miles from Dublin; which, from the peculiarity of its situation, its prodigious height, and singular beauty, deserves the most particular description. It is found at the very bottom of a lofty semi-circular hill, into which, after a most agreeable ride through a park well planted with wood, you enter, by a sudden turn round the extremity of one of the curvatures, and at once, unexpectedly get into the midst of a most entertaining scenery of lofty slopes // on either hand, verdant from top to bottom with trees of every Kind. The distant view of this water-fall at first entering within the scope of the surrounding verdant hills, is inexpressibly fine. A sketch of this most beautiful scene, is given in the annexed plate. At the very bottom of this sylvan amphitheatre, and in view from your first entrance into it, is seen one of the most beautiful water- falls in Great-Britain, or Ireland, and perhaps, in the world. It is produced by a small river that rises on the plains or shallow vallies, on the top of an adjacent range of mountains above, which have no other out-let for the waters, that, from the springs and rains, are collected in these little vallies but by a descent to the edge of this precipice. Where in the horizontal distance of 50 or 60 feet, it falls at least, three hundred; upwards of two hundred feet of it is visible on the plain below, and is nearly perpendicular, or not above nine or ten feet from the direct. The effect of this small degree of obliquity is extremely fine, for besides the greater quantity of the water that from one small break, or projection, to another, is thrown off the rock in beautiful curves, it produces an infinite number of frothy streaks behind the larger sheets of water, which, through the divisions of these more considerable and // impetuous falls, are seen running down the rock, in a thousand different and broken directions, at a slower rate, from their adhesion to the rocks. The general form and composition of this precipice contributes infinitely to the variety and beauty of the fall; for it is composed, not of horizontal strata, but all in a position oblique, and the degrees of this obliquity being various in the different strata, produce an infinite variety of arching curvatures in the fall, by the dashing of the water against these little projections of the rocks, and occasions those breaks or divisions of the more impetuous falling sheets of water, through which are discovered the flower trickling streams running in ten thousand various and mingled directions down the very sides of the precipice. These little frothy streams trickling down the fides or front of the rocks, have a most pleasing and entertaining effect, and delightfully diversify the scene. The only time to see this most beautiful and astonishing water-fall in its highest perfection, is immediately after heavy rains on the mountains above, which add greatly to the confluent springs that rise on the plains or shallows on the top of these mountains: on such increase of the waters, nothing of the kind can exceed the beauty, the almost terrific grandeur of the fall; add to this // account the enormous pieces of rock that lay at the bottom, just under the fall, upon which the torrent or cataract most impetuously dashes, and fly off in a thousand different directions, exhibiting, likewise, in the morning, with the sun in the east shining full on it, most curious and beautiful representations of the rainbow, on the spray that rises in the air, from the dashing of the water against the rocks at bottom, and the whole together presents such a scene, as at once possesses the mind of the curious spectator with astonishment, mixt with the highest admiration. I assure you there is no heightening or exaggeration in this description; for the subject will not admit of it. The highest description must fall short of the beauty of the original, and of the conceptions of the delighted spectator on the spot, if it is visited under the advantages I have recommended from my own observation, viz. in a very wet time, or just after heavy rains on the mountains above, though there is a continual fall supplied from the springs. The trees which grow from the bottom to the top of the hill, on the sides of this prodigious water-fall, are an inexpressible addition to the beauty of the scene, especially at the distance of an hundred yards from the fall, and whoever will undertake the most laborious talk, indeed, of climbing the hill, // from tree to tree, to view the river at the top, before it comes to the precipice, will have their curiosity amply rewarded, by viewing the many breaks and little falls of several feet, that it makes from the place where its descent first becomes steep, towards the edge of the precipice. Its winding, hollow, and intricate passage through the rocks, in some places open, in others almost concealed from the projecting strata of the Rocks on either side its broken channel. The beautiful prospect likewise from the top of the fall of the lawns below, and the surrounding verdant slope of the hills, on either hand; (the reversed prospect of this beautiful sylvan amphitheatre as taken from below) the contracted area of the bottom of which, now seen as in perfective, will, altogether, furnish such entertainment for their curiosity, as will amply reward them for their no small toil and labour, I assure you, in the acquisition. The whole scenery, indeed, above and below, is the most extraordinary, and entertaining, in its kind, I have ever met with, infinitely superior, indeed, to adequate description, and justly deserving the notice of every admirer of natural curiosities. [pp. 66-70]
Powerscourt Water-Fall in the County of Wicklow Ireland