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Caving in Ireland July 1954.

By R.M. (Pongo) Wallis

My summer holiday this year has been spent caving in Ireland. It was my first trip over there and was thoroughly enjoyable.

The party consisted of Johnny Pitts, Joan Light, Donald Thompson and myself. John and I travelled over via Hollyhead - Dun Laoghaire and we were to meet the others at Mitchellstown with the car which we collected at Dublin. Unfortunately, about 10 miles outside Dublin the car rotated about the wrong axis (horizontal instead of vertical). When we got out we found it would still go but was rather the worse for wear. When it had been reported to the Guarda (Police) and to the hirers it was taken back to Dublin and we had time to wonder what to do next. The first thing was to get in touch with the other two, which we eventually managed and it was arranged that I should meet them at Lisdoonvarna in Co. Clare on Monday, where we were due to go on Tuesday in my case.

I duly travelled down to Limerick on Monday, leaving John to, argue about the car, and then out to Lisdoonvarna by bus meeting the other two at Limerick. We arrived at Ballynalacken Castle that evening and were greeted by Mr. & Mrs. O’Callaghan Joan & Don were old friends from previous stays. We found a party of 8 from U.B.S.S. under Prof. Tratman in residence and hard at work on their Cullaun caves as well as anything else in sight.

Our enthusiasm must have been tremendous, as next day we set out for Doolin, about 3 miles away loaded up with 40 feet of ladder, lunch, cameras, &c. Luckily the local priest came by and gave us a lift there and was most interested in the whole proceedings. Doolin, in my opinion, ought never to have been discovered. It starts with a very wet section where we got wet up to the neck, and after another couple of hundred feet or so one is again almost completely immersed. After this it is reputed to get very large and one just walks for 2,000yds. or so, but this we took on trust, as we were by now very cold and completely covered in very wet mud, having rashly explored a flat-out muddy crawl. We also thought that the water was unpleasantly high and as it was raining outside we didn't want to get trapped. When we got back, our suggestion that the place might flood has treated with great scorn, but to our delight when U.B.S.S. went there to continue their survey a day or two later, the entrance was completely sealed. Later that evening John turned up - - no car, alas! – but with J.C. Coleman in his car. Jack was extremely sporting and next day which was very nice and fine, took us all out for a general look round which included almost everything of note from Ballyvaughn in the north to the cliffs of Moher in the south. After tea at Lisdoonvarna in the Irish Arms we began on the stout drinking. This continued till about 1am. and was then continued at Ballynalacken till about 3.

It is not surprising that next day our enthusiasm was rather reduced and our caving was restricted to a little cave just down the valley discovered by C.P.C. This was well worth exploring, although rather hard work as the passages are a bit small, as it has an extremely fine formation in the final chamber. Really good formations and chambers of any size themselves, are not all that common in Co. Clare.

One can hardly go to Lisdoonvarna and not go down Pollnagollum and next day (Friday) Mr. O’Callaghan very kindly drove us over there. We got rather tired of walking down the stream way but reached the end in due course. Arrived back at P.G. Pot we wanted to go back upstream as there was still some time before we were due to be picked up but the water was too high.

Saturday was a bye-day spent looking at sinks, risings &c., and hoping that the water would go down. Sunday was, a rather better day but the streams were still up and the day was spent looking for sea-caves. We found an old remnant of a canyon passage very close to the sea and all solemnly did the complete traverse of it -- possibly as much as 100 feet.

By Monday the water had dropped enough for us to get into Coolagh River Cave. Once again, this involves getting very wet right at the entrance, but thereafter it is of a very respectable size, and one wades along the Main Drain for half a mile or so to the final sump more or less without having to bend one’s head. Cullan II which we visited next day has something in common with this Main Drain Passage (as, I suppose do most of the caves in the district) but it is rather narrower and has rather less water. Prof. Tratman called it a ‘Gentleman’s’ cave and as such it rather suited us. Wednesday was devoted to Faunarooska – at least we think it was. We were rather vague as to its exact whereabouts and so we proceeded to walk along the shale-limestone boundary until we found what looked like a hopeful sink. In point of fact, there were far too many of them – about six in a quarter of a mile. We had to explore them all omitting any which looked too wet or uninviting. The first possible proved rather a bloomer on my part as after quite a good start it turned into a foul little hole involving crawls in a very muddy stream, so we gave it up. John and I then went on to the next in line thinking the others would follow in a minute. Actually, they failed to find the place at all and of course this proved to be the one in question. Not that they missed very much; it is a very narrow canyon passage with the tightest of meanders. We were never more than ten feet apart but saw very little of each other. It just went on and on, always almost exactly the same and after about half an hour we got fed up and turned round and came back.

That was the end of our caving. We had a good excuse not to cave on Thursday as we didn’t want to take wet caving clothes back with us.

Co. Clare is about as different as from Mendip as it would be possible to find, both in its caves and above ground too. There is still any amount of work to be done there and it can be combined with a most enjoyable holiday. Not the least part of the enjoyment was due to the hospitality of Mr. & Mrs. O’Callaghan at Ballynalacken Castle who seem to be able to cook just as well when the kitchen is cluttered up with 12 people’s wet caving things – and seem to enjoy drying them too.

R.M. Wallis.


Don Coase has been persuaded to bring along his projector and colour slides to Club the last Thursday in September. Bob Bagshaw wishes to announce that there will be no extra charge.



Nomination forms for the 1955 Committee will be found in the October issue of the BB. NOW is the time to start thinking up resolutions for the A.G.M. There are only five months to go!


Change of Address.

Johnny (Menace) Morris now resides at: - 5, Glendaragh Road, Teignmouth, Devon.

Committee Reports.

It has been decided that a short resume of each committee meeting shall be put into the BB.

Summary of July Committee Meeting.

Arrangements for the next Annual Dinner were discussed and it is hoped to arrange the details shortly.

Fred Targett is hoping to lay the concrete soon for the new kitchen extension and detailer.

Enough dural tube for the Cuthbert’s Maypole has been authorised, also a new book for the library – Casteret’s ‘Darkness Under the Earth’.

A coach trip to the Devon Caves may be organised if sufficient members are keen.

Summary of August Meeting.

Arrangements for the 1955 Annual Dinner were again discussed and it is hoped that an early announcement of the arrangements will be possible this year

The question of concreting the new Belfry Kitchen was raised. Fred Targett has again been approached.

Summary of September Committee Meeting.

The arrangements for the 1955 Annual. Dinner have now been settled. The dinner will be held at the Star Hotel, Wells on Saturday January 29th. 1955. An extension until 11pm will be arranged and Entertainments provided. The tickets will cost 8/6 each and will include the dinner and entertainments. Transport will be provided from Bristol at an extra charge.

The matter of concrete for the new kitchen was again discussed. Fred Targett has promised to do this as soon as he can.

The following new Members have been elected to the club: -

Donald King – (Full member)
John Leach – (Full member)
Stan Freeman – (Associate member)
Dave Morgan – (Associate member)
Alan Merry – (Junior member)

A charge of 2d will now be made for milk and added to Belfry dues. A standing order for 1 quart will be placed with Mrs. Dors and may be collected by any member on Saturdays.


Membership list No. 3 1954.

Please notify Hon. Sec. of any mistakes or omissions.

G. Fowler No.278 99, Springleaze, Knowle, Bristol.
D. Fowler No.279 9, Brixton Road, Easton, Bristol.
Stan Gee No.268 40, Church? Heaton Norris (?) Stockport.
Dave Gwinnel No.239 78, Days Road, Bristol. 5. (Forces)
Keith Gardner No.251 22, Wesley Hill, Kingswood, Bristol.
Stan Herman and Mo The Swallet, Staunton Lane, Whitchurch.
M. Hannam No.104 14, Vyvyan Terrace, Clifton,, Bristol.
B.W. Hockey No.300 Post Office, Checkerell, Weymouth.
‘Digger’ Harris No.304 14, Market Street, Wells, Somt.
Pat Ifold 75, Peverell Drive, Henbury, Bristol.
John Ifold No.97 Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke.
Roy Ifold N0.102 1, Saville Place, Clifton, Bristol.
U Jones No. 285 Wellman Villa, Hermitage Road, St. Johns, Woking.
K Jones No.225 12, Melton Crescent, Horfield, Bristol. 7.
Tim Kendrick No. 131, Cherry Street, Bingham, Notts.
D Kemp No.289 Scarsdale Villas, London, W.8.
A. Knibbs 13, River Walk, Walton-on-Thames
Lamb No. 260 365, Filton Avenue, Bristol. 7.

We have the World’s Biggest Cave on Mendip!

Eating lunch underground in the Carlsbad Caverns, Mew , where the dining room is said to hold 2,000 people, a woman turned to he neighbour.

“I believe this is the biggest cave in the world?”

“No, we have bigger ones in Texas.”

“Oh, I don’t know that. Where are they?”

“I couldn’t say, Ma’am. We haven’t found them yet!”

From ‘Reader’s Digest’

Can You Read?

Do you like reading? Do you know that almost every worthwhile caving book together with a large selection of climbing and travel books is in the club library? Johnny Ifold is the club Librarian and would be only too pleased to furnish you with any book you might like. Johnny’s address is Leigh house, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Near Bristol. For conditions of borrowing books you are referred to BB 80 of April 1954.


T.H. Stanbury Hon. Ed. 48 Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
R.J. Bagshaw, Hon. Sec. 56, Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol.4.
K.C. Dobbs Hon. Ass. Sec. BB distribution. 55 Broadfield Road, Bristol .4.