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Ireland 1975

This article is described by its author - Ian Calder is 'A rather belated account of a trip last summer.' - Better belated than never!

A group of us from South Wales decided to see what some of the Irish caves were like, so one Saturday in August we set out for that centre of the West - Fishguard.

After a rough crossing to Rosslaire and the inevitable two hours delay, we set off again for County Clare in the early evening.  A Morris 1000 with three adults, two children and gear for a week is no place for spending four and a half hours on bumpy Irish roads, definitely a journey to forget. Anyway, we arrived at Lisdoonvarna at midnight to find the place heaving with people.  It was, of course, chucking out time, as we were soon to learn.  We had been told of a campsite at Fanore, and so made our way over dirt tracks, ending up at the site an hour and a half later having been given 'directions' by a helpful native who was holding up a pub along the way!

The next day - or was it the same day? - having been woken at around nine o’clock owing to small children, the five of us eventually took off to look at the Doolin River Cave.  We rigged the Fisherstreet Pot and went down St. Catherine's I and after a smallish entrance series which seemed to enlarge very uniformly, we found the main system of magnificent canyon passage and fine formations.  What a joy to see untouched and un-taped stal.  Having crossed under the Aille River, we found the Fisherstreet Pot, had a look towards the sump nearly under the beach, and managed to arrive at O'Connor's at Doolin for a 5.30 p.m. Sunday Guinness.  It certainly lives up to its reputation and we took good advantage of the licensing hours.

The next day, we had an excellent through trip Pollnua-Polnagollum-Poulelva.  We abseiled into Polnagollum Pot off a rather doubtful chock, only to discover it was much easier to climb out, go round, and then descend without any tackle being necessary.  At least we never left the cave, although we did manage to find a way to the 90 foot, pitch of Poulelva and exit there, having rigged it before hand.  Back to the site for a swim and some food.  The beach here is very good and the surf was exhilarating at least while we were there.  The fact that the caves were there as well was almost an added bonus.

We even struggled off to a cave the day after, although the Guinness was beginning to get through by now, and had a look at the Coolagh River Cave.  We didn't get very far inside owing to the fact that there seemed to be too much crawling for our physical condition.  We had also been warned that this cave was liable to rapid and severe flooding and so our natural idleness and cowardice took us off to the nearest pub to restore our spirits.  We did walk a little over the 'burren' - a wild and desolate area of bare limestone, but saw nothing which even remotely resembled a cave. Sickening!

My last excursion underground was into Collaun 5, and I can certainly recommend this cave to anyone. It is possible to do an exchange trip if you can find the right entrances.  Our maps, being some sixty years out of date, weren't very helpful. The main entrance (5) is by the road and easy.  A couple of us tried to find 5d and only after an hour and a half of hunting did we stumble upon it.  For anybody who wants to look for this entrance I can only say that it is by a fence and very close to the edge of the NOW forest.  We joined up inside the cave and decided to bottom it.  This was well worth the effort.  There are some magnificently decorated ox-bows and the end is quite large, although it closes down to very unstable-looking boulder choke.

We returned via opposite routes and I am glad to say that the others had almost as much difficulty in picking up the road once they were out of 5d than we had going the other way.

Others went to see the stal in Pol an Ionian, whilst I baby-sat, but that pretty well sums up the active side of our Ireland visit.  Thanks to 'Wig' for his information and helpful hints beforehand!


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