A holidaymaker in his 60s has died after he fell 20m into a stream near Ireland’s largest waterfall on the Sligo-Leitrim border while out hillwalking.
The man was walking at the Devil’s Chimney area of Glencar on Monday evening when he fell.
Gardaí told Independent.ie that officers, along with other emergency personnel had “engaged in an operation after a man in his 60s suffered a fall at the Devil’s Chimney, Glencar, Co Sligo, yesterday evening.
“The man was located but was later pronounced dead at the scene.”
A major search and rescue operation was launched after the man was reported missing at around 7pm.
The man, who is believed to have been from the Galway area, was holidaying in the area with his wife when the accident happened. It’s believed he became disoriented, as he tried to make his way back down the mountain trail.
Henry Doherty, from Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue (SLMR), told Independent.ie: “Initially we got the call at 7pm to look for a man who’d gone missing.
“He was on his way back down the mountain and he got disorientated. We found him approximately 500m from the track itself. It’s quite easy to lose your way in the mountains, if you’re not familiar or experienced in that environment.
“Some people’s perception may be different from the way they went up to the way down.”
Mr Doherty said it was possible the man “couldn’t find his way back” but “unfortunately he slipped and tragically fell about 20m.”
A local landowner helped the search and rescue team locate the man, and Mr Doherty said this local knowledge was “key” in locating the man.
The information led to the team finding the man around 40 minutes after arriving at the scene.
“Sadly, the man had fallen into a stream,” Mr Doherty said. “He was found in the base of a gully and the stream had swollen due to bad weather.
“He was partially submerged in water. The team located him and after an initial assessment, he was found to have a head injury and having fallen into the stream, he was developing the symptoms of hypothermia.
“It can very much affect the vulnerable and elderly people, or people with any circulatory issues. We don't know how long he was in the water.”
The rescue operation involved 10 members of the Strandhill-based Irish Coastguard helicopter, the National Ambulance Service and the gardai.
The Irish Coastguard helicopter, Rescue 118, also attended the scene and paramedics performed CPR on the casualty.
The man was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was taken to Sligo University Hospital and a coroner will decide the cause of death.
Mr Doherty said the rescue team had been upset by the loss of the man and they sent their condolences to his family and loved ones.
He asked the general public to always be careful when setting off on a trek up a mountain, due to the uncertainty of the geographical and weather conditions.
“Make sure to prepare properly for the day out,” he said. “The mountains are there to be enjoyed but first check the weather and that you have suitable footwear, clothing and enough food and water for the day and for if any difficulty arises due to weather changes.
“It’s possible you could be out a lot longer than expected, so prepare for that with food, water and clothing.
“Tell someone where you're going, what time you're expected to be back and make sure your mobile is fully charged to dial emergency services if you get into difficulty.”
The Devil’s Chimney is a popular mountain trail walk which is a 130m high ascent. The waterfall is named Sruth in Aghaidh An Aird, meaning stream against the height. This refers to the waterfall’s appearance of blowing upwards in certain weather conditions.
The walk is only meant to take around an hour and is classed as ‘moderate’ according to SligoWalks.ie.