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Tales from County Cork

I arrived in Cork in October of last year.  My only other visit to Ireland had been a week caving in Fermanagh with Neil and Paul from the RRCPC.  This time was slightly different from that visit as I expect to be spending the next three years over here.  First things first, get in touch with the local cavers.  The only information I had on caves and cavers in the area was Tony Oldhams' Caves of Co. Cork.  I tried ringing one of the people mentioned in the guide, Cian O'Se, after practising pronouncing his name on various people.  He was very helpful and put me in touch with the active members of the Cork Speleology Group (CSG).

One week later and I had a trip arranged down Pollskeheenarinky.  This cave lies east of Mitchelstown, just within the borders of Co. Tipperary.  The situation of this cave is typical of many caves found in the east Munster area, it is in a ridge which runs along a limestone valley with hills of Old Red Sandstone on either side.  One of the other caves found in this ridge is the Mitchelstown show cave, the wild part of which is supposedly well worth a visit if access can be obtained from the owner (he prefers small groups).  This trip as mentioned was my first outing with members of the CSG, a very elusive lot, who when eventually contacted turned out to be a real friendly bunch.  I had arranged to meet them at 11 pm on the Sunday morning.  Most cavers who have visited Ireland have probably noticed the laid back attitude to time, well in this respect these people are the epitomy of Irishness. They turned up at 12 noon and told me this was early!.  Any rate we set off and after getting lost outside of Mitchelstown eventually ended up asking a local farmer for directions.  The man put us right but also added that he had large depressions on his land and asked us if we would take a look and see if there was any cave potential.  He said if there was he would use his JCB to dig the holes out (IRĀ£ signs and show caves could be seen floating in front of his eyes).

The cave entrance to Pollskeheenarinky turned out to be a real classic.  It consisted of an old Wolsey!!.  To go into the cave you opened the back-door, clambered over the front seat and plopped out of the drivers door.  It was put there to stop cows falling down the entrance pitch.  This cave is a real entertaining trip, it is very similar to Mendip caves as throughout the cave the bedding plane slopes away steeply.  A small pitch, lots of scrambling, bridging, crawling and pretty bits, well worth a visit.

Back at work there were a few people showing interest in going caving so we decided to have a short caving trip locally.  Beaumont quarry cave was ideally situated in that it is within the bounds of Cork city.  The trip turned out to be good fun but realistically the cave is a short, smelly, well trodden hole.  This description contrasts completely with Tony Oldhams description in Caves of Co. Cork as small but interesting.  The only small but interesting bit in my opinion was a small pool at the end of the cave which might have potential.  The length of the cave is 400 feet.  When subsequently chatting to some members of CSG they informed me that this pool was just a mud pit that occasionally fills at times of high rainfall.

My next Co. Cork caving trip was down Carricrump quarry caves, these are near Cloyne, south-east of Cork. These eight caves run parallel with the quarry face and it seems that a lot of the system has been quarried away. Just into the entrance of the most easterly cave is quite a deep lake which I think has been dived by some British CDG members quite recently.  The caves are quite entertaining and much more fun in a wetsuit.  There are a few pretty bits, lots of traversing (if you want to stay dry) and some amusing climbs (most of the caves are water floored). My next jaunt with CSG was to Carrigtwohill Quarry Caves approximately 5 miles east of Cork city.  This is where CSG had their most recent breakthrough (last year).  The new cave Carriagtoughil A Do was found in the adjacent quarry to the old Carrigtwohill cave when some brambles were cleared away.  This clearing up revealed a man size entrance leading to a classic Cork caving trip.  The cave hasn't been fully explored yet!  Lots of crawling, scrambling and mud and quite a few formations to gawp at on the way.  The old Carrigtwohill quarry cave is well worth a visit and has numerous attractive bits. The CSG has a fair number of digs in these quarries and I think with some scouting around there is quite a lot to be found.  Another classic Cork caving trip which I haven't been able to do yet, is Cloyne cave.  This is the longest known cave in Cork and from the old survey (a 1990 survey is in the process of being published) is a maze of passages.  Most of the caves that have been found in Cork seem to be in quarries, there is quite a bit of potential about the place as the density of cavers is fairly thin on the ground (there are about five active CSG members).  A CSG member invited me up to north Co. Cork the other day to look at a potential cave site on a farmers land.  The farmer had told him that there was a stream disappearing into a hole and reappearing two miles away, would he go out and have a look?  We were planning to go up on Sunday but due to a job callout we couldn't go.  Hopefully next weekend.


Anyway. if any cavers fancy a look around the area maybe on the way to County Clare or whatever I could provide some information and Cork contacts (not forgetting Irish fiddly music and a good pint of Guinness) and would be interested in any trips planned. I can be contacted at either.

University College Cork, Zoology Dept. Postgraduate laboratory, or by writing

Jane Evans, Cork, EIRE