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LADS Trip to Clare – Easter ‘85

As a group the LADS have been going to Clare on a regular basis since shortly after St Patrick drove the snakes out.  We have found a reasonable amount of new caves in several areas around the Burren but did not consider it to be of any great interest to cavers back home. Accordingly, apart from writing our trips up in our club journals and letting the UBSS know of any new discoveries for updates of "The Caves of County Clare", we have never bothered to publicise our finds.  It was therefore with some amusement that I saw the heading "Cerberus on the Brink" in the latest Descent followed by an inaccurate and incomplete description of our trip this Easter, written by some nurd who doesn’t know us and clearly wasn’t there.  The following is a slightly more accurate account.

Our arrival in Doolin was greeted with a most welcome whisky, courtesy of Doll in the kitchen behind O’Connor’s Bar.  Then suitably fortified we staggered down Pol an Ionian before retiring to our cottage for an evenings drinking.  The next evening (after an agreeable day down Poulnagollum) saw us firmly ensconced in the bar with that all important Guinness.  It certainly lived up to all expectations, that creamy white head daintily clinging to the upper lip with the right hand quivering excitedly but holding the cool, straight glass in a vertical mode in anticipation of the delectable sensations to come, then suddenly, with a smooth but firm movement the wrist tilted the glass back gracefully.  The taste buds burst into life as the first black waves of the dark; life giving liquid rolled across my tongue and spread an euphoric ecstasy across my palate.  The throat leaped into action to speed this ebony nectar on its way to the rest of my waiting body. My heart exploded in a war dance, a chorus of angels sang in my ears as my brain roared with sensual delight.  The deeply religious experience of my first pint was over.  I sat back contentedly, taking in my surroundings.

“Hmm,” I mused, "shame it makes you fart".

The next couple of days saw a routine trip down Doolin River Cave and the start of our digging on Western Knockaunsmountain, while the evenings saw Steve, Trebor and myself deep in conversation with Pat Cronin at the bar.  We theorised about our dig's potential excitedly, half empty glasses foaming in our hands, half poured pints waiting in line at the bar.  Froth dripped gracefully from Pat's beard into his Bushmills Chaser as he waved his little arms and legs expressively from his high stool, demonstrating his digging technique and gurgling contentedly.

By Friday we had made our way into two shafts at the Poulnagrinn site, but the third depression down which we could throw rocks and hear them crashing below still thwarted our efforts (one for next year). Sitting on the surface, tired but satisfied at finding what was clearly a major site taking a good stream; we passed the bottle around and admired the view.  To our right we could see the foaming Atlantic breaking on the white sandy beach in front of the little, distant brick walled dot that was O’Donohue's Bar. To our left looking past Ballynalacken and over the little hill above McGanns, with its well kept, creamy stout and smooth, peaty malt whisky we could see the Strand, and our hearts, minds and livers went out to O'Connor's and the alcoholic delight that awaited us there.  Oh well….stuff the digging!

Saturday saw us sober enough to find two new entrances to upper Poulnagree along the line of sinks near the TRT Eagnai Mouncat inlet.  Further on towards Polballynahown, my mind concentrating on the possibilities of a Guinness and Pernod cocktail, I slipped and fell down a small hole (now named Polna Garsuin) which led to a stream passage which Steve eventually managed to push past two squeezes to a point about 250ft from the entrance while I was suspended unceremoniously by my wedding tackle at an s-bend some 50ft behind him.

The cave took a strong draught and will certainly be revisited on our next drinking trip to Clare.

As for the Descent heading 'Cerberus on the Brink'- Cobblers!!  There were two B.E.C. members, one Cerberus and one MNRC. Maybe the editor would like a list of all our projects? digs, half finished surveys, new areas etc. so that he can publish them and let some other bugger get in there before we have a chance to go back and finish them.  At the end of the day our Gaelic colleagues are bound to agree that "Tien na Garsuin Naide Faide!!" and Descent can bloody well wait until we've got something really worth printing - next year!

Mark Lumley.