A little gem of a river hidden in the mountains of Kerry. Well worth the trip, and can be combined with the Upper Caragh (when it is open) for a good day out. It’s a narrow and technical class 3 run. It’s a short run so easy to do laps!
The whole river is scoutable on the walk/drive up.
Click here for a pin to the parking (at the road junction). Easier than trying to explain it! ;-)
There are some rapids further upstream, though it can be infested with trees! Your best bet is to park at the bottom and walk up either to the short start at the next bridge up, or where the road comes back to meet the river after a little climb. Paddle, walk, repeat!
Simplest get-out is river left just after the bridge below where you parked. There’s a big eddy after a large rock. Walk back up to the car and think about another lap! There is a spot, about 1km further up the road where one (maybe two) cars could pull in for a shuttle, though the walk allows for a quick scout for trees etc.
Like most Irish spate rivers, the Owenroe reacts quickly to water. Good rain overnight usually brings it up, though not always… Sometimes the river will come up with less rain than you think if it has been very dry, or indeed if the ground is already saturated. Always a bit of a guess. Being the source of the Upper Caragh, if the Caragh is working, it most likely is as well. It might still be runnable a day after heavy rain… it depends!
What boat to bring
In low water any plastic boat will be fine. As it comes up, a bigger volume creeker or river runner – to charge through the holes – is a better choice.
What to watch out for
The locals are cool with paddlers, and sometimes stop to watch. Parking is limited though, so be sure to park sensibly and close gates behind you etc. – there are a number of farmers and local residents up and down the road all day.
Depending on which way you are going home, there is a good burger in Kilorglin (The Real Burger Co.), or Milltown (Alma’s). Enjoy!
Article by John Pierce