I Fell Down a Waterfall


I Fell Down a Waterfall

One of the scariest, most frightening things that ever happened to me was when I fell down a waterfall. Yes, I really did fall down a waterfall!
My story begins way back, in the mists of time, in the year of 1975. Myself and my brother, Tony, had gone out, for a drive in the county. We were living in Dublin, then, and a drive into the country, in my new Ford Cortina (well, it was new to me) was a real treat. Asking where we were heading, Tony was delighted when I told him that we were going to the Wicklow Mountains (us ‘Dubs’ called them the Dublin Mountains. I have no idea just why we did, though).
It was a gloriously warm sunny day, in the month of May. As we progressed up the winding roads, with not a care in the world, I had no idea of what lay in store for me…
After enjoying ourselves for well over an hour, strolling around the beautiful gardens of Powerscourt
Domain, we returned to the car and headed further up the mountain. Spotting a waterfall running down the mountainside, ahead of us, I told my brother that we were stopping there. It was the Waterfall at Sally Gap. The narrow, winding road led us to the top of the waterfall, to the stream feeding into it. Pulling up to a halt in the car-parking area, we got out of the car and strolled across to the scenic look-out, to enjoy the views of the waterfall and surrounding countryside. As I strolled alongside the stream (I can still remember the sound that the murky brown waters made as they gurgled beside me), I still had no idea of what lay in store for me, only a few yards ahead. As I followed the increasingly rocky banks of the stream, towards the waterfall proper, my brother warned, “Watch out! Those rocks look slippery!” And in those days, when everyone, including men, wore platform-soled shoes, it was a warning to heed. My brother’s warning, though, came too late, because he had no sooner said it when I slipped and fell into the stream.
The cold, rushing brown waters gushed over me, pushing me, showing me – hurling me towards the top of the waterfall.
They say that at times such as this, your life flashes past your eyes, well, in my case it most certainly did not, my only thoughts were that I was a goner, and that was that.
Suddenly, I had a piece of extraordinary luck. My right foot became jammed between some rocks on the stream bed. The ferocious waters continued to rush over me, but I had stopped moving, which had to be good! Calling out to my brother, I told him to go to the road, and flag down a passing car. “They might have a rope,” I said to him. “They can pull me out with it.” Tony, however, never went to the road. He was otherwise engaged, laughing at me. I realised that my only hope of salvation rested with myself…
With my foot was jammed tight between the rocks, I searched for a handhold – anything I might use to pull myself out from the stream and away from danger.
My hands were numb with the cold, but I persisted, searching, searching for a handhold. Then, after what seemed like an eternally, I managed to find one good enough to trust my life with.
As I pulled myself slowly towards it, my foot suddenly slipped free of the rocks. I had narrowly I escaped death at Sally Gap waterfall.
I drove all the way home, wearing only my underwear and the car rug draped over my shoulders. My brother was still laughing, in fact he laughed for almost a week. Moreover, he told everyone he knew about me and the waterfall.
This really did happen. It is a true story, which I am only now recording onto paper. And to this day, despite returning to the spot on several occasions, I have never ventured any closer to the stream than from the seat of my car, in the par parking area.



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