AND NOW THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY:-

POLNAGOLLUM OF THE BOATS.   Co. Fermanagh, N. Ireland.

On the first day of the RRCPC & YSS, Ireland Caving Meet, Carl Atkinson, Charlie Spurr & myself fancied a trip. Carl suggested that we visit Polnagollum, as it was, he said, superb introduction to caving in Co. Fermanagh. .

The rain had begin to fall, quite heavily as we were chauffeured to the entrance. (Great these Irish caves, right next to the road. Just where caves should be.)
A rapid change into caving attire followed, in the even heavier rain. Polnagollum’s entrance is in a giant boulder choke at the bottom of a large surface collapse. A winding route was followed down through the boulder choke & onto the main stream passage, where we were confronted by an even larger river passage, approximately 40 feet high by 20 feet with, with a very ominous - looking lake extending upstream. This had a rope tied across for people who have difficulty swimming.

After getting Tom’s Fisma going there were quite a few “Wow’s” & “Look at the size of this place” The trio edged their way into the water “Ooh, it’s colds” said Carl.” and “I have to swim.” He was calmly? followed by Charlie & Tom, whose Fisma was by now threatening to set fire to everybody & making a good searchlight. The first swim crossed, a landing was made on a sandy beach with the roof disappearing steeply away beyond a group of large stalactites. The beach was crossed onto the floor of a huge chamber, at least 100 feet high by 40 feet wide A 100 feet plus long with a large mound to one side. Ascending this mound, a uperb view of the chamber was obtained. .“Good, Eh” said Carl, “Brilliant.” replied Charlie. “Excellent.” said Tom.

Descending the far side of the mount the river passage remained at least 50 feet high & 30 feet wide for several hundred feet before approaching a choice of a dark, black lake or a route through a boulder choke. The route through the boulders was taken, to appear at the far side of the lake. Unfortunately we came out about 15 ‘feet above the water on an airy traverse with the river rumbling away below us.

Further on down the passage, we again had two choices, another boulder choke or a duck under a flake, which was suspect due to high water. We decided on the boulder choke & scrambled through to the far side of the duck and into a further large section of streamway which unfortunately closes down to a semi-keyhole shaped passage. Here water was booming out, but in normal conditions the tube can be followed through. canal-swim to the final chamber A boulder choke. We turned round here to begin our outward journey, after having a good look at the superb, giant flowstone cascades & large stalactites occupying large sections of the walls. On the way back, Tom disappeared into the dark lake underneath the boulder choke, whilst Charlie & Carl went the dry way.

An ascent was again made into the main chamber’, where several minutes. were spent looking at avens in the. roof & the excellent views around the chamber Then running out of excuses for. staying any longer, Tom dropped down to the 1st lake followed by Charlie & Carl.

The lake was crossed quite easily by Tom, due to the strong current. Charlie followed closely, but was about 20 feet from the side when he spluttered out, “I’m bloody sinking, me oversuit’s full of water!”

The rope pulled taut across the lake as Charlie hauled himself onto the shore, looking like an overweight blubber whale. On the bank, Tom who was full of sympathy, rolled about laughing and roared, “You’ll be reet”, you wimp, you’re only drowning!”
Carl followed Charlie across without event & had a quick laugh at the “whale” who was still spluttering.

A rapid ascent was made through the boulder choke & out into the rain. “Superb trip, Carl,” commented Charlie & Tom, “What an introduction to caving in Fermanagh!.”
The cave is a terrific sporting trip and is well worth a visit.

Tom Abram.

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