The Ireland Expedition

Tuesday: Pol an lonain

Group:      Chas, Fran, Mal, Jude, Dave, Steve, John, Ashling and Ema.

 Due to very high winds, rough seas and Steve having bought a copy of Charlie Self’s excellent caving guide the whole group decided to have a bash at the cave on the front cover.

Pol an Ionain consists of some two hundred metres of small but easy entrance series and ends in two large chambers the second of which has a sump which has been dye traced to the coast. Pcl an lonain’s main claim to fame is the “Soggy dishrag” a seven metre long stal formation hanging in the middle of the large avens. It is reported in the guidebook as being the largest free-hanging formation in the world (we wondered if this is now not quite true). A good trip and the “Soggy dishrag” was really worth a visit. Unfortunately it seems that plans are now afoot to make a showcave of’ this system so we may soon lose it!

Thursday: Coolagh River Cave                Group: Chas and Steve

Entered the system through the Polldonough sink and followed a fair sized passage down the Coolagh River Passage, mostly walking or stooping. The size of the cave diminished and we soon entered Gour passage, (the gours are no more) this emerges at Balcombes Pot where a large streamway is met, this water is obviously entering from Upper Bedding Cave, Flooded Bedding Cave and Polldonough South.

The Lower Main Drain is followed and the passage size reaches impressive proportions with some sporting climbs and cascades. Finally the terminal passage is met as a fault causes a soaring vadose trench. The stream follows a low bedding on the right and soon sumps. Just back from the sump on the left an aven was noticed, we climbed up for fifteen metres before it got too scary. The aven has been climbed for forty metres. At the other end of’ Terminal Passage the Mud Branch passage leads off, we followed this to its dismal termination near Pollclabber.
We then backtracked up the Lower Main Drain and entered Cascade Branch Inlet, this was followed for about one kilometre in a passage of’ gradually diminishing proportions. We were not convinced that there was a way out but a howling draught drew us on. Eventually after a hard climb and squeeze spirits were flagging but just round the corner fresh air was smelt and we glimpsed daylight. After a short crawl through red, peaty mud we emerged in a shallow depression in a field.
Our exit was through Polldonough North which is situated north west of Polldonough over a small hill.

A really excellent sporting trip of nearly four kilometres but good weather is essential for the Coolagh River System.

Chas Frankland.

Saturday: St Catheriries and Fisherstreet.

Team: Chas, Fran, Steve, John and two Irish friends.

After the previous nights trip down Arran View it was with some trepidation that this trip started but it was ill founded. A fairly sound start and some minor route finding problems but it soon opens up into a big impressive cave. This system takes a lot of water in wet weather so there are few formations at stream level but there is a decorated chamber above the main passage. About two-thirds of the way down the main stream the Aille River enters as a relative torrent. The main point of note here is its temperature, it was very warm! Apparently this is due to its proximity to the surface, in fact the whole cave is warm and seems to breed flies readily.
The situation is aggravated by the next inlet.

The Arran View inlet where sewage in the river joined the main flow, by now it was fairly well diluted but still obnoxious. St. Catherines - Fisherstreet Pot seems now the only viable through trip as the Doolin Road sink is reported blocked (but not checked out) and Arran View is totally repulsive, it was however a very enjoyable day out and consisted of’ three kilometres of excellent caving.

Steve Round.


Tuesday:            Team: Chas and Fran

Fisherstreet upstream to the confluence of’ inlets to try it out for size and see if it was big enough for the rest of’ us. (see Saturday)

Friday: Arran View Swilled to Fisherstreet (evening trip)

Team: Steve and John

Starts as a rubbish dump with a sewer running through it. It is fairly good caving in canyon streamway, not over large but the main problem was sewage! It was with us all the way through the cave until we found ourselves traveling upstream again.
A half hours thirty—one up another inlet passage convinced us that there was no obvious links with the main downstream cave again so as it was now 11pm and we were in serious danger of missing last orders we turned for home.
We noted the way we had “missed” on the way back. It was a two and a half foot high passage with a foot of’ sewage running through it, it had been passed on purpose on the way in as being unworthy of attention. Until the sewage problem has been sorted this is definitely a trip not to be recommended.

Steve Round.

Wednesday:                 Team: Chas and Steve going walkies

Walked round Sleive Elve from the north east end up to the sink level.  We found some unbelievably beautiful vegetation but no caves until we
arrived on the western side of’ the bench. We found Faunarosska and then a
“new” (maybe) entrance into Hawthorn Cave. We now had a rare treat because the farmer had fenced all the sinks on this side which made it childs play
to fill all of’ the Polldubh system.

We then traversed round Knockauns mountain only to discover that this
was not so nice as he had filled all the sinks and tributaries for Pollnagree. The main entrance, being on the opposite side of’ the track, however remains untouched. Next on our excursion we found the entrances to Poulomeea and Poll Ballynahown and then faced a hot five mile walk back to the pub in Doolin.

It is a beautiful area and walking it was th only way to see all of the caves, even if’ we did not have time to do them all.

Steve Round.

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