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LADS trip to Clare - Easter ‘86

The LADS were back in Co. Clare again for 2 weeks this Easter.  Most of our time was spent digging at sites observed in previous years but there was plenty of time for some good, sporting caving too.  Doolin River Cave was visited on several occasions (the most enjoyable being a trip upstream from Fisherstreet Pot on a Mountain bike!) Poulnagollum-Poulelva, Fergus River Cave, Coolagh River Cave (well, someone had to show Wessex the way through!) and Pollapooka were all good, enjoyable trips.  We had a look at a dig in Moonmilk Cave in Oughtdarra, observed a draughting bedding and two unmarked risings in the Castletown area and went diving around the Green Holes off Doolin.

We noted, however, that the good will between landowners and cavers is being stretched to the limits by a minority of "Silly Buggers".  The walls near popular caves frequently have stones missing and people are regularly stomping over the farmer's land without even having the courtesy to ask permission – the landowner for Pol-an-lonain has bricked up the entrance of the cave because he is annoyed at the situation.   We found on our arrival at our Poulnagarsuin digging site that the wall we had built around the main shaft to safeguard the landowner's (Gus Curtin) livestock had been partially demolished by so called 'cavers' throwing rocks down to hear how deep it was.  This resulted in Gus, a man in his seventies, having to cap the shaft himself and a less understanding man may well have curtailed future digging efforts (as it was, we were granted permission and even shown around other likely digging sites!).

On requesting permission to dig at the site of the main swallet by B8d (Caves of County Clare), a site which we looked at in 1985, we were made most welcome to check out any cave on the farmer's land but permission to dig was not granted - frustrating since the site looks as though it should go to a usable canyon a with a minimum of effort.


On our last day we observed a large shallow depression 50m northeast of the circular fortification (caker) towards the northern end of the Balinny depression, just east of the green road.  This contains at least 5 sinkholes, none of which seem to have been looked at.  We will dig the most southerly of these on our next trip to Clare.


We returned to our dig at Poulnagarsuin (400m south along the shale margin of W. Knockauns Mountain from Polomega) and concentrated our efforts on the boulder choked entrance, P2, 20ft south west of our original site.  After a day's intensive digging we had managed to descend vertically about 25ft into the tight upper section of a canyon at least 40ft high at the bottom of which a large stream could be heard.  Our way down was thwarted by the steep, loose boulder slope alongside and above us.  Sections of this had already collapsed into the confines of the digging face and we considered it a safer option to approach the canyon through our original entrance (PI), the bottom of which we estimated to be 15-20ft above the canyon floor and about 25-30ft away.

The P1 shaft was taking a Swildons sized stream which we diverted around the depression into P2. Two days later we had completely excavated the 3ft by 6ft shaft down to a depth of 45ft where it headed along a strongly draughting rift through which the stream could be heard.  A further day was spent digging about 12ft along the rift but it became too tight to push, only feet away from the elusive canyon.

We left the site with PI capped and P2 completely filled in to safeguard livestock.  Next year will hopefully see us through by less orthodox methods.

Mark Lumley.

The rest of the account of the BEC Easter trip to Ireland including photos of Mark caving on his Mountain bike (unfortunately recently stolen in Bristol) and also Pete Glanville’s exploits will be published in the next BB.