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Owenshagh River

  Grade:   4 to 4       Rating: river rating
  County:   Kerry   Date updated:13/01/2017
  Section Length:   5   Version: 6 (History)

Brief River Description

Grade About 2 km of grade 3/4 (a couple of the rapids are undercut, especially the first). Some nice pool drop type rapids. The S-bend rapid mid way has some hold if you swim and is best protected.

healthThe main rapids are on a part of the river shown on the OS maps as the Glanrastel. When the Glanrastel River merges with the Glantrasna River, it becomes the Owenshagh River. After the Glantrasna tributary enters from the right it drops to grade 2 for the rest of the river.

Pat and Pete WKC ran the river in summer 2011. The first drop after the Ford get in comes on you very quickly and is a serious fall. We decided to portage this uncertain of the depth of water at the bottom plus not having creek boats for the job. The following drops were all paddelable. We inspected the drops mostly from our boats and thoroughly enjoyed the run. You need a good night of rain to make this river come to life enough to do it justice and avoid too much of a rock run.

Pete and Stu WKC paddled it again 2016, awesome trip again. Bit more water than in 2011 making things a bit more interesting.

Regarding Runoff:

We went to look at the river about an hour after approximately 6mm of rain and found it in spate. We waited an hour after inspecting the level before we go on at the ford as we wanted the level to drop. In hind sight we probably should have gotten on slightly earlier than this as some of the drops were a bit boney. From the ford to the estuary took about 2hrs with inspection and portaging. By the time we got to the bottom the level had dropped considerably at least three or four foot from when we had made our initial inspection. 


in higher water the landing of the second drop after the ford has a nasty undercut river left. We both nearly went into it... be carful out there!


Directions to the Put-in

This is a river I found in South Kerry near the village of Lauragh. (South west of Kenmare) Leave Kenmare and follow signs for Castletownbere How to find: The get out is in the village at the bridge on a small side road (signposted Healy Pass). To find the get in drive towards the pass and take the first left. Keep going for 2.5 km . The road turns into a rough stone boreen but keep going until you reach a sweeping bend. Park here and carry down a really rough track to the river.(Ford here.)

Levels gauge at the get out Needs 0.7m or above above 0.9 the stoppers are quite meaty. No play potential but plenty of interesting rapids There is more runnable stuff upstream of the get in but I haven't checked it out yet in decent water. There is one giant slide upstream but I've only seen it at summer levels tributary which enters from right may also be runnable in big water.Have now checked this and its runnable but definite portage


Directions to the Take-out

50m past Healy pass turn off in Lauragh village. There is lay by on right, walk up through the trees below the bridge


River Description

Rapid 1
A 3m drop into tight pool. Pool exit on left, but theres a big boil so set up safety.

RE depth of pool There's enough but there's also a rock rib about 2.5 m away from drop so best to boof facing left if you can. In anything other than LW the boil will tend to push you back towards the falls so "live bait" rescue wouldn't be OTT

Rapid 2
Ledge drop 1m into gorge.

Rapid 3
S-Bend rapid, first drop has some hold.

Rapid 4
Diagonal slide entry from left.

The rest is read and run. After tributary enters from right difficulty drops to a grade 2.


Local issues

Some issues at the take out, over landowner liability so probably best to be discreet.


River level gauge

Gauge upstream of bridge in Lauragh
- 0.7: Best
- 0.8 to 0.9: pushy
- 1m+: thrill-seekers only


River Hazards

Top drop 3m is highest.



Original Author: Dave Glasswell
Latest Author: Stuart
(Full History)

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