2017

April to June

April 1st     Considine’s Cave

CC and PC
A cool evening, clear skies, since Thursday over an inch of rainfall. A small stream present. The base of the shaft thoroughly washed clean. The plan; to introduce CCs new method of back packing the shoring. With only two people there was a slow start lowering the kit required and stacking it to leave enough room to shore. PC shoring, CC in support. The loose nature of this smaller debris means anything touched falls out, swiftly followed by its neighbours. The area below the shoring was dropped two feet and a piece of pole successfully inserted without any serious dislodgement from beyond. Beneath this two bars were pushed into the debris upon which slats of timber were lain. Upon this stone and chatter were spread to fill the gap and form a level base which, on completion is pressed vertically up under the bottom of the shoring area above. The large gap was mostly filled with stone. With both poles in place and backfilled level to the top the eight foot 4x2 timber was applied beneath as a lever to lift the section of shoring into place, the existing bars were then removed, this gap closed and the shoring finally secured in place; thank F**k. The working area between the shoring and the narrows is only just body size so everything need be handed through the narrows; awkward! The entire affair was a success and enormous relief. To the Roadside for good music and great drink.

Hours 6, 450
Pat Cronin

April 3rd     Considine’s Cave

CC and PC
Rain, and lots of it; stream almost filling the pipe. Walls of rift very wet from trickles of ground surface. CC digging, PC hauling and barrowing. The slope in front the shoring was reduced in preparation for the next shoring session. The area in the northern rift was also dug to expose how much the rift narrowed into the main shaft. With both areas attended to the floor was dug to expose the emerging huge vertically jammed boulder, (3 feet x 2 feet x 7 inches), behind which is the three metre hole, too small to enter. Will likely nudge it, perhaps next Thursday or Saturday. Spoil was removed as far as practicable, ready for shoring. The next digging session should lower the main shaft floor to expose more of this alcove. To the Roadside; drinking interrupted by American asking to video Team talking caving, good grief.

Hours 6, 456
Pat Cronin

April 6th     Considine’s Cave

CC and PC
A warm day, overcast, a small stream present. The plan; to insert as much shoring as possible. Six further sections of shoring were delivered. PC shoring, CC in support. A task that was expected to be a breeze became an endurance, three tough hours to fit two pieces of shoring! The idea was to remove as little as possible from the debris pile, thereby causing minimal disturbance, however this method reduces available space for pole insertion. A catalogue of trivial issues increased the delay. The confined space between the narrows and the shoring is the principle problem, there is no room to turn, once a piece of shoring is received to insert into place the fun really begins. Eventually the two pieces were secured. The large boulder in the floor was drilled ready for nudging. Only various minor injuries were incurred, surprisingly. To finish the day fifteen kibbles were raised to surface. CC took a few photos. Ideally a third man at surface would have helped enormously. An exhausted pair headed for the Roadside.

Hours 9, 465
Pat Cronin

April 10th     Considine's Cave

 

CC and PC
A bright sunny day but with a really cold WNW wind. The plan, to secure the next section of ladder. Freighted drills, chainsaw etc. to site. While CC connected upper part of the next ladder PC chainsawed the poles in preparation for installation. There are now 12×1050mm and 4×1000mm stacked on the surface ready for use. Joined CC to drill 16mm holes for ladder bolts, fortunately managing to drill into the awkward curve of the adjacent wall. Also installed a bolt belay for use with a lifeline, as the rift is narrowing and floor integrity increasingly suspicious. During operations CC slipped on the large greasy boulder sustaining an injury to his shin; a debilitated CC continued preparing for the ladder bottom support and other materials required to complete the ladder installation for the next visit. To the Roadside where, on given drink, told our money was no good…… Happy Days. Conversation involved the website and comparing injuries.

Hours 5, 470

Pat Cronin

April 13th     Considine's Cave

CC and PC

Overcast and cool. A very small trickle present. The plan; to install more shoring and secure the ladder. The scaffold bar cum stemple was inserted and secured successfully, requiring a further coach screw to compete fixing the ladder in place. Total depth of fixed ladder is now a little over ten metres; a further two to the bottom of the shaft. The shoring process resumed using CCs’ method, one aspect requires honing but overall it is the safest approach to attempt control of the loose packed debris. Careful packing behind the poles means less space for debris to move about. What needs more attention is calculating the precise diameter of the two poles and allowing just enough space with the one above to allow backpacking to take place. The base area of the ladder way is almost level with that in the main shaft. Soon digging will recommence. The constricted area between the narrows and the shoring continues to make hard work of manoeuvring the poles into place but the chamfering of the pole ends has reduced effort. The Ali ladder was removed to make more room below. To the Roadside where money could not be spent, again.

Hours 8, 478.

Pat Cronin

April 15th     Considine's Cave

CC and PC
A cold west wind, overcast, sunny spells a small stream present. The plan; to clear the accumulated spoil from the bottom of the shaft and ladder way to prepare for the next shoring session. Together the team installed the final coach screw into the ladder. CC digging PC hauling-barrowing. The shaft base was cleared to some halfway down the, still extant, huge flag like boulder, presently jammed vertically; previously drilled for nudging. The curious development of crevices in the east wall continue to increase in size; a possible, useful area for storing the kit. Upon clearing spoil closer to the shoring movement became commonplace, a fine example of how loose the debris actually is, akin to digging marbles. The raised spoil was deposited along the path to improve conditions underfoot. Next session should see at least two more pieces of shoring in, ideally four. This will mean we can sink the shaft a further metre or so before having to ashore again. The Shepton have arrive en-mass, stopping in the Doolin Hostel for the week. To a busy Roadside for pints. TB to arrive the 20th, unless Vurley goes in which case he’ll be delayed.

Hours 5, 482.

Pat Cronin

April 17th     Considine's Cave

 

CZH, CC and PC.
Warm, sunny spells, small stream present. The plan; to install further shoring to bring it as low or as close as possible to the extant main shaft bottom. PC shoring CC in support Zot at surface. Two pieces of shoring were installed, surprisingly swiftly, even though a problematic stone threatened collapse to part of the face. Once completed the whole installation then jacked into position, and secured. This process, designed by CC, is being honed as emerging practical issues are overcome in their turn. Two pieces of shoring and associated backpacking are the total weight limit able to be jacked up into place. Since adopting this method the loose areas behind the previous three shoring installations appear, (sound), more stable as successive shoring has been installed. CC digging, Zot hauling and barrowing, rotating with PC. The spoil temporarily stacked over the main shaft floor was removed to where virtually the whole of the large upright boulder and it neighbour are exposed, the ladder-way too cleared in preparation. Numerous gaps and spaces are present throughout the fill of the rift causing issues of stability underfoot. The “Narrows” have widened allowing the return to enjoy a safe stance during hauling and lowering procedures. An excellent session, as ever a pleasure to have ZOT around. To the Roadside for pints.

Hours 12, 494

Pat Cronin

April 20th     Considine’s Cave

 

CC, JW, TB, and PC
A glorious sunny evening, Inisheer light clearly visible six plus miles distant, a small stream present. The plan; to nudge the big boulder, (Adolf), and remove same. CC digging JW and PC hauling TB barrowing. The nudge was reasonably successful, the remains, some very large, were brought to surface. JW took over digging to finish the session lowering and levelling the floor of the main shaft to some half metre below the original base of the large boulder. Lowering of the ginging is required in the north rift as is further shoring in the southern. One gap in the floor offers a view of over two metres depth. The curious rift features continue to develop. To the Roadside. NB. In answer to a recent question, actual digging began on the 22nd September 2016. Prior to this sixty six hours were consumed with building the platform and setting up the site. This data does not include sundry work such as constructing the tripod. Happy Birthday Mr. Hitler. Hours 10, 504.

Pat Cronin

April 24th     Considine’s Cave

TB, CC and PC
A cold NE wind, sunny, a very small stream present. The plan; to install more shoring. PC shoring, CC in support, TB surface. The shoring proceeds well, the previous shoring session stabilizing the upper area very securely, far more than ever before, even when a large rock or two needed removing to insert the second timber. So the process continues to improve working. The timber lathes were installed horizontal resting upon the two lengths of rebar pushed into the gaps in the rocks behind and below the shoring, upon which were lain layers of flat stones to spread the weight. Upon jacking the entire arrangement upward into place it was noticed the east side support bar had moved from its inferior support allowing it to remain low in relation to the lifted section, this needs lifting by hydraulic jack prior to installing the next shoring. Longer lengths of rebar are required to avoid this sort of issue arising. PC hauling, TB digging, CC barrowing. Three short pieces of rebar were inserted into drilled 14mm holes as removable steps to ease climbing in the confined lower section of the ladder way, depth below the lowest fixed ladder now approaching two metres. TB dug the main shaft base to expose the narrowing northern rift to begin installing ginging once again, during which he thought he could hear falling water causing an echo? Thursday will be a slow day, ginging needs sorting as does several other issues, so likely little actual digging will take place; perhaps though, a good opportunity for photography. To the Roadside where the Team met the landowner who urged them to dig deeper! what a pleasant man.

Hours 12, 516.

Pat Cronin

April 27th     Considine’s Cave

TB, CC and PC
Overcast, cool, a trickle running. The plan; to sort the ginging before it becomes unreachable by further lowering of the shaft. CC to ginging, TB in support, PC spare so wandered off to sort the catchment pool, installing a nine inch pipe under the wall to channel the stream, back packed the area to use as a footpath. The small dam was rebuilt and the water pipe installed to supply the water barrel on the working platform. CC’s effort resulted in over a metre height of ginging installed from a superbly fitting chock stone wedged perfectly into the rift. Beneath, the exposed rift descends obliquely some six inches wide heading north toward the original choked pot, (this dig hopes to pass below its base). PC to shoring, using a bottle jack the sag of the lathes was lifted, following steel bar collapse, a replacement bar therefore fitted, over one metre in length. Supporting the two free hanging pieces of shoring became a pain in the arse as the loose stone floor continually moved downward beneath the pressure from the jacking materials. The hose pipe was finally fitted beneath the working platform away from the tramway. An exhausting evenings work, but lots achieved; alas TB, (Tea Boy?), omitted to bring his life sustaining tea flask so no delay heading for the Bar. To the Roadside for drink.

Hours 7.5, 523.5

Pat Cronin

April 27th     Water Gate Cave

 

TB, CC and PC
LW 12:22, springs, sea state smooth, wind WSW 9 knots. The plan; to complete the survey. After a protracted wait predicted sea, tide and weather conditions suggested possible access, through Seaside, into the series of low entrance passages of Water Gate, hitherto unsurveyed, and normally taking wave action. The plan was to be at the entrance an hour before LW. To monitor the sea state CC remained outside, with whistle, to notify the Team of the slightest, adverse, change in sea conditions. At 11:37 TB and PC entered making for the base of Oubliette, and began to survey out, in the main passage all compass readings, looking in; in the branch passage readings were looking in. The main passage is stunning so full of life and superb colours, crabs, starfish, anemones, shrimp, etc. etc.… Quite the spectacle. Exited at 12:00. During the twenty minutes the expected tidal fall to 0.10 metres above Chart Datum continued, sea state remained stable throughout; a wavelet of between 0.3m and 0.5m regularly broke along the edge of the minor limestone step to the south of the shelf. To the Roadside, survey completed. It is worth reopening Oubliette for the photographer alone, after all it only four who have ever been inside!

Pat Cronin

April 29th     Considine’s Cave

TB, CC and PC
A cold wind, overcast, a trickle present. The plan; to install two more pieces of shoring. PC shoring, CC in support, TB surface support. The confined shaft bottom meant TB sent down equipment etc. when requested leaving the available space for working. The area excavated for the next section produced four big boulders causing concern as the hollow area quickly increased with associated bits of collapse, and gaps appearing. To the east, through one gap, a corner could be seen turning away to the east; the area beyond the shoring does seem big. Using the one metre length rebar this hollow was not the problem it had previously presented; three lengths were pushed between the loose stones and secured to the first piece of timber shoring. Two lathes were then placed horizontally behind the shoring for flat stones to be set upon spreading the load, and allowing back filling to take place. The second timber was swiftly installed and back packed, the whole arrangement then jacked up into place whilst “thumping” the shoring with the sledge to “shake them up” to close the gaps between the shoring. Once in place, gaps closed, the support cable was lowered and secured to the new shoring. This is the first occasion where, even though issues of stability occurred, the shoring procedure went really well. The main area of subtle evolution being the use of longer lengths of rebar to reach much further into the more “stable” stone area. Some of the spoil removed was used as ginging the remainder, some big sods, were sent to surface. The ladder way floor is only a metre above the shaft, we are catching up. A further fixed ladder will be needed very soon. TB had provided tea and bread pudding, nice one. To the Roadside to enjoy the “Father Ted” weekend festival, lots of Priests, Nuns in stockings and a great many Mrs Doyles’ wandering about the place; Ooo err

Hours 7.75, 531.25.

Pat Cronin

May 1st     Considine’s Cave

CC, TB and PC

A bright warm day, no stream at all, around one inch of rainfall for April. The plan; to install more shoring to reduce the height difference between the ladder-way floor and that in the main shaft. Preparing the area in the narrows CC removed a rock whereupon the floor dropped about a foot, what a surprise. The shoring installation went without issue, three pieces of shoring swiftly fitted. This amounts to around sixty odd pieces set in place. One more temporary step was drilled and fitted. The next fixed ladder is needed ASAP. The depth of the main shaft is now fourteen metres, fixed ladder about eleven metres. Thursday the target is to drop the main shaft floor a metre. To the Roadside for lovely pints; told beer festival the end of the month!!

Hours 10.5, 541.75.

Pat Cronin

May 3rd     Souterrain at Finavarra

S.M.R. CL002-068002.
SMR = Sites and Monuments record, (National reference).

TB and PC; (CF = Carl Fahy)
As the day promised sunny and warm, TB was invited to join in the surveying of the souterrain site on the windswept Finavarra peninsula, located on the south coast of Galway Bay, west of Ballyvaghan. While TB cut away briar's surrounding the souterrain entrance PC set up the base line, plane table and dumpy level to produce both plan and profile of the site. During sun drenched operations a local, CF, introduced himself; interested in history etc. he told of an opening into a cave like space offering to act as guide to the site, available most evenings and Sundays. The plan is to accept his very kind offer as soon as practicable. Though CF also spoke of a possible souterrain on the adjacent Scanlan’s Island, very possibly associated with the Ringfort, (CL002-019---), and a building of indeterminate date, (CL002-019002), no record of a souterrain is within the national database. Having only a caving helmet a brief look was rewarded with a superbly constructed souterrain of large proportions. Lintels up to two tonnes span the 1.6 metre square passage. The walls are battered narrowing toward the roof. A glimpse through a gap of the recently deposited stones near the base of the entrance slope promises more passage. Though the entrance chamber does not quite match the TL Cooke survey, circa 1834; it is possible he miss measured, though the distance quoted from New Quay in his description does match. It is presently unclear if this is the original entrance. As the surface data was all but recorded the next stage is to survey the actual souterrain from the fixed survey station, (Station 0, yellow peg), installed at the top of the entrance slope. The plane table drawing produced a raised, curious shape, no sign of anything resembling a rampart is visible. The fertile top soil is underlain by glacial deposition visible in the two cubby holes either end of the entrance chamber. The depth of this deposit can be clearly observed along the adjacent northern coast. Lintels forming the roof appear to be a half metre, or so, beneath the raised area suggesting its purpose was to cover the souterrain. The pile of stones at the base of the entrance were placed by the owner to create a ramp allowing the young bullock who made a surprize visit to return safely to the surface. Called in to the owner to apprise him of progress.

Pat Cronin

May 4th     Considine’s Cave

TB, JW and PC
A cool bright evening, the smallest of trickles attempting to flow. The plan; to dig. With the departure of his grandson, CC took delivery of a severe cold, therefore absent from the session. The next two metre ladder is on site. TB & JW digging, JW, TB & PC hauling and barrowing. Regular appearance of large stones required the net. A steady pace dropped the floor some one metre below the timber temporarily installed to prevent slippage from the debris cone in the ladderway, this depth is now close to fifteen metres, approaching the bottom of the adjacent 1980s pitch and climb. With further removal of the clay infill, looking into northern rift, (toward the 1980s pitch), the narrow dimensions appear to increase, slightly, this makes sense. The explored, recorded depth was a nine metre ladder pitch from where the stream pipe discharges, then a five metre climb to a mud choke. Measuring from the pipe the reported mud choke is only some three metres belowtonight's session. By contorting himself JW managed to take photos, while TB and PC enjoyed tea in the sunset, ah. To a virtually empty Roadside.

Hours 7.75, 549.5.

Pat Cronin

 


May 6th     Considine’s Cave

TB and PC
Overcast, cold easterly wind, barely a trickle. The plan; to prepare for installation of next two metre ladder. CC still battling the Dreaded Lurgi. Much awkward phaffing holding the ladder, craning body through rungs, holding pencil, marking location for the support bracket and drilling 16mm holes. Its an “effing” narrow place. Temporary rebar steps were in the way, (removed), so had the three metre Ali ladder lowered to work off, (it is only three rungs above the upper ladder). Using the plumb line the location for the bracket holes found to be in a very narrow area, (restricted room for drill), though managed to drill one hole squarely the other is off alignment to it by some 25/30 degrees, (absolute distance between rift faces = 362mm). Disappointed to find the new ladder frame is a ½ inch too wide, (PC used an old former). This needs reducing to fit the existing ladder, no special design required for the vertical metal joiner brackets, straight plate will do. TBs angle cutter will be needed to shorten rebar rings. The vertical ladder line will just about work. If a longer ladder were used, once the floor is dug down, then a better, wider, support bracket location becomes available another two metres or so lower down. Looking through the north rift, exposed by JW, (75mm), an area three metres away, and down by 45 degrees, looks to widen. It also appears to be sloping down toward the main shaft. Another vertical alcove/rift has developed in the east wall this promises a little more room to dig. TB dug a session lowering the floor another foot and exposing the eastern alcove further. The midges arrived in force at 20:00, by 20.45, it was Hell. Did not tarry to drink Tea. Fled for the truck, pursued. Under attack PC found he’d forgot his change of clothes, however PMC had thoughtfully delivered same to the Roadside; the drink superb.

Hours, 5, 554.5

Pat Cronin

May 8th     Considine’s Cave

CC, TB and PC
A fabulous sunny day, potential for 21 degrees, a trickle. The plan; to install shoring. The Dreaded Lurgi has all but left CC, hooray. The session began with a surprizing, subtle change in rift width requiring shorter lengths of shoring, (940mm); bugger; more poles required. So reverted to removing accumulated spoil dug out from the ladderway. CC digging, TB barrowing PC hauling. As the shift drew to a close a large stone was lifted from the eastern rift/alcove exposing a narrow three metre drop to a bedding the width below appearing sufficient to wriggle into, and, perhaps, the lower bit may allow crawling. Both the floor of this, and the northern rift are clean, appearing to slope, and terminate, beneath the present, ever decreasing, available digging area. The depth of the shaft is around fifty feet, (15 metres). The next shoring session will mean the Ali ladder will be several of feet short of the fixed ladder. Tea was enjoyed prior to departure for the Roadside.

Hours 9.5, 564.

Pat Cronin

May 10th     Considine's Cave

PC

Continued fine weather, a bit more of a trickle running, odd no rain. Obtained two more poles from Noel The Pole and cut up same into 14×930/950mm lengths. Conveyed all to working platform. Recovered two metre ladder to correct error of width back at workshop.

Hours 2, 566.

Pat Cronin

May 11th     Water Gate Cave

TB and PC
The Oubliette entrance was opened by the Team to bypass the normally flooded tidal entrance crawl, (Seaside). It gave access to the higher, and dryer, passage beyond the crawl. Following numerous storm events, which wrecked a great deal of the County Clare coastline, boulders were found blocking the rift.
LW 12:15, (0.83m), springs, HW 18:36, (4.86m), range 4 metres. Yet another fine day. The plan; to remove the offending boulder/s jammed in the entrance rift. Armed with ironmongery,drills, ladder, tea etc. the Team clambered down the cliff, (several pieces of which are now missing), to set up shop at 14:25 among the storm boulders at sea level. On arrival the Tide was found level with the top of the entrance rift. Fortunately the main boulder is not too large, others were cleared away using the five foot crow bar leaving the big one, and a little/r one. A nudge introduced a minor crack in the big ‘un, with little else effect. With the tide rising operations were forced to cease at 15:35 as the area submerged. The next plan is to return using plug and feathers to remove the smaller boulder to create a hollow, then take the nose off the larger, winching it forward to topple into the hollow before it; well that’s the plan… Of note is the presence of a huge boulder, (a piece of Cliff face), measuring some five by three by three metres, (Estimated at 118 tonnes), that once rested in the corner of the bay some five metres above sea level, now reposing fifteen metres from the cliff base. To the Roadside.

Pat Cronin

May 13th     Considine's Cave

TB and PC
Cool bright evening; a small increase in stream volume. The plan to attend to the shoring left as too long for insertion. PC shoring TB in support. The floor of the ladder way was lowered to allow insertion of shoring supports beneath the lowest horizontal piece, this gap allows the rebar rods to be pushed in to the debris and somewhere substantial for the end of the lever to rest to jack up the whole affair into place. Among the debris a large area of clay – stone matrix has occurred; this should help stabilize the area. Two lathes were placed behind, and the backpacking began. It only needs the final piece of shoring and the use of CCs tools to complete this section. Clearing the debris two large boulders have appeared these have to be removed for the next shoring, which should bring the ladder way base almost level with the main shaft, now at-15m. To the Roadside.

Hours 5, 571.

Pat Cronin

May 15th     Northern Ireland Road Trip

Donegal, Sligo, Fermanagh and Roscommon.
TB and PC
Several points of interest combined to inspire this trip…………… Poulnapaiste, Donegal, (a cave formed in green and white marble). The Pullauns, Donegal, a meandering, partly collapsed river cave, and a number of archaeological sites. Based in “The Hoo”, a smaller, lesser version of the Axbridge Hut, akin to a quarter sized Pegasus Hut. Aughnahoo AKA “The Hoo” is close by Marble Arch Show Cave, (Fermanagh). Arriving just after a four hour trip, eventually found it and dropped off the kit. Noticed, with some foreboding, elevated stream levels. Looked at the stream at “White Fathers Cave”, appeared high. Drove on to Boho for pints in The Linnet, courtesy of Des.


16th May
After breakfast at Clancys, Glenfarne, Drove to Gweebarra estuary, north of Glenties. Took the small lane to the north of the inlet, just before the bridge, attempting to walk from this higher side of the valley down hill to the site. The very steep, densely foliated valley forced a swift change of mind. Drove back to main road to park on the south side of the bridge. Walked into the forest along the south side of the inlet, being forced down into the waters edge. At the end of the inlet found the large resurgence for Poulnapaiste at the base of an obscured cliff covered with foliage, briar's etc. Negotiating the climb with packs became problematic as the near vertical cliff was covered in moss and rotten remains of hazel, nothing whatsoever to offer a sound hand hold. Twenty metres up the ground levelled. Before the pair a young forest extended, so dense as to defy all attempts of entry. Here a “new” wire fence was crossed, without providing any real progress though only thirty metres from the cave, (if the coordinates are correct). Managed to locate the top of the climb by shear luck, the foliage really is that dense, visibility being only three of four metres. The final retreat to the motor was made using the north side of the inlet, an area used for grazing; a far easier route back to the road. Disappointment. The route back to the Hut passed The Pullauns so were visited in readiness for tomorrow; on meeting the enthusiastic owner, Mrs Radine Hamilton, she directed her estate manager, Eddy Ward, to show us around; a very nice bloke. With the overwhelming welcome it was decided to do the trip there and then, rather than return tomorrow. The Pullauns is a number of large surface collapses into the shallow cave system, some sections are big. In flood the place fills almost to the surface, in places forty foot deep. EW offered further information of swallow holes within the grounds of the estate, and his mobile number, inviting our return, anytime; if possible to call prior to arrival.
NB. The Hamilton family have owned Brown Hall from at least the mid 18th century. During the Great famine, (an Gorta Mór), 1844 -1852, the Hamilton’s of Brown Hall, Ballintra, made available a large amount of their wealth to elevate the needs of the starving population; today they remain a well respected family.

17th May
Knocknarea, Low cloud coming in from the sea threatened finding a smothered peak. This thousand footer, situated to the south of Sligo, has a plateau summit upon which is erected a Neolithic cairn some sixty metres in diameter and ten high; the reputed burial site of Queen Medb, (a mythological individual). Estimated at some 8000 tonnes. The twelve hundred metre walk rises steeply from the car park, taking about an hour. Superb location from which myriad summit burial cairns upon the surrounding mountains are clearly visible. Visited Keash to size up parking etc. fore tomorrows trip En-route to the Linnet, went via Poulnagollum Coolarkan,(H1221×4308), to view its large entrance.


18th May
05:50! Good grief. Decided to leave early for Keash to also enable visiting a souterrain, (SL046-014004), in the circular ecclesiastical settlement in the village of Monasteraden, Roscommon, en-route to picking up the N17 just north of Knock. A good breakfast was enjoyed at the service station at the junction of the N17 and N4, a kilometre south of Collooney. Plenty of signposts direct the traveller to the Caves of Keashcorran, one choice of parking is in Keash village. There are three spaces at the stile a mile or so from the village, arrive early. A ten minute walk up the slope provides access to all cave entrances along a common horizon. TB was particularly interested to visit Plunketts Cave, located at the southern end of the cliff face. This cave was the source of a great deal of archaeology excavated sometime around the early 1900s. Whilst all are obviously water formed several present evidence of mining just inside the entrance, this area appears quarried and left with an unnatural squared off form, in several caves the chert has been chipped at, the age of chipping is any ones guess. This possible mining may have been for the plentiful number of chert bands of varied thicknesses apparent along the cliff face, and within the caves. The caves overlook a vast area extending to Knocknarea to the north, the Ox Mountains to the west and across the plain to the south. This is a Neolithic landscape as evidenced by the numerous burial cairns and court tombs. A chert industry would thrive in this society. It was a short journey to Monasteraden where the souterrain was located almost in the centre of the circular, still used graveyard. Short lengths of railway sleepers cover the entrance secured together with metal strapping. The report, found later, gives measurements of passage and chamber but also records the place was flooded, this would inhibit any close inspection. As rain appeared headed for home. A good trip. Would recommend use of the “Hoo” as a mid week stop, as its size would be an issue for cooking etc. with another party present.

Pat Cronin

May 20th     Considine's Cave

CC, TB and PC
Minor showers, overcast, a small trickle. The plan; to complete the shoring begun on the 13th May. The base of the ladderway continues constricted. The “Narrows” can be seen to be…… narrowing, the next ladder will inhibit movement between either work area. PC shoring, CC & TB in support. The final piece was installed and the whole jacked up five inches into place; the floors are now just less than a metre in height difference. TBs 4” grinder came in handy when a length of support bar fouled the chocking of each side of the shoring; a great tool. The partly obscured lump of limestone is next to come out likewise what appears to be a large neighbour. To the Roadside where MC was enjoying the pints. During the chat MC explained the lower area near the dig is to be drained within the next few weeks. Adding that an old “Sluggagh” may also be used as a drain. This sink, next to a 40/50 metre long wall, disappeared due to surface encroachment. PC suggested that when the digger was on site perhaps the driver could dig the unrecorded sink open? MC pointed out he would be on site to direct the work and, if he could locate the site, he would ensure its opening, Hooray…another project!

Hours 7.5, 578.5

Pat Cronin

May 22nd     Considine's Cave

CC, TB and PC
Clearing from light showers, no stream. The plan; to continue reducing the ladderway floor. On arrival met with DB and PB who are visiting TB. PB climbed down the original pot in Pegasus Pot, only to find S.W.C.C. written in the mud he also accompanied those UBSS who dropped the original pitch here. CC digging PC hauling, joined later by TB. CC began to dig, upon removing a stone from the floor, created a hole below which the drop was estimated at three metres deep, a cautious look assessed the shaft floor is only some half metre or so thick! The attempt to put the stone back caused debris to fall away; the hole slowly increasing. A second lifeline was lowered and attached. Two pieces of timber where then lowered to spread any load across the floor surface, cover the hole and allow the debris pile in the narrows to be removed without it cascading into the depths. The forthcoming disappearance of the floor means the present shoring should come to an end, the area below remains partly obstructed. However, the shoring needs completing to existing floor level, measured at 15 metres. A steady effort filled day. To the Roadside for pints.

Hours 9, 587.5.

Pat Cronin

May 25th     Considine's Cave

CC and PC
Some cloud cover, Inisheer lighthouse very clear, no stream at all. The plan; to insert more shoring. PC shoring, CC in support. The debris being shored had several large lumps of rock projecting beyond the normal vertical alignment, which proved problematic. Careful measurement and insertion meant three poles were swiftly inserted and back packed. Leaving only a gap of a foot between the upper and lower shoring, through which protruded the larger of the offending rocks, the exposed area was back packed with stone and will be finally closed up with vertical pieces of pole secured with metal straps. The width of the “Narrows” can be seen to reduce to 6 inches wide. This limited area in which to work is an issue installing shoring. However, the small width of the “Narrows”, visible below, appears well jammed with debris; this is a huge relief. Therefore the process of shoring the southern rift, as we know it, has come to an end. Having managed to clear the minor east rift, with very little debris falling into the void, work recommenced digging the main shaft. CC did a fine impersonation of a ruptured ballet dancer, contorting his body in such a fashion as to be unsettling to those of a nervous disposition. Only by doubling up was he able to reach beneath the board, on which he was balanced, to remove the debris; what remains of the floor was dropped over a half metre, the resultant rocks used to ginge the area above the narrows. This area of ginging has created a secure platform which will give stable access to the next, offset, ladder. Glimpses down through the choke give an impression of the area being slightly larger……?, and, definitely three metres deep, so the shaft will soon be -18M. The choke is deeper than previously thought, but still only about a metre and a half. Thoroughly shagged out CC then set to installing the final fixed ladder. On completion the climb out up the fixed ladders will be around 14 metres. Beneath a baking sun the Team headed for the Roadside; the beer festival is this weekend!

Hours 6, 593.5

Pat Cronin

May 27th     Considine's Cave

CC and PC
Sunny, cool evening, a very small stream: midge city. The plan; to continue removing the choke. CC digging PC hauling. Slow progress, in the confined, narrow rift CC had to reach around, and below, the 4x2 inch timber on which he balanced, to remove spoil. Eventually removal of the smaller stones and chatter exposed several boulders. PC joined CC and together removed a few more, to then poke the choke; Oo errr. The resultant cascade of debris opened the next three metres of shaft, which continues to narrow, slightly. Thankfully the east rift has opened too, a little, offering a tiny bit more room. Digging here will be slow and awkward, yet there appears to be a bedding joint, an edge, below, to the north…? Though slow, vertical progress will be much swifter, as regular trips to shore have ceased. As a 0.25 kg stone falling from the shaft collar would have an impact load of 44kgs, the plan is to create a shorter more precisely controlled haul from the ginging platform at the bottom of the ladderway; stack kibbles there too. The hauler to then relocate to the surface with the digger taking up post in the ladderway to deploy the kibbles through the narrows out into the shaft. Thoroughly knackered the Team headed to the Roadside, and drink.
Hours 6.5, 600

Pat Cronin

May 29th     Considine's Cave

CC and PC
A warm evening, a small trickle; midges. The plan; to see how digging will proceed in the lower section of the shaft. CC digging PC hauling etc. CC completed securing the last fixed ladder, at -14m, then climbed down to -17m using the aluminium builders ladder; its presence severely restricts digging, once hefted out the way a big boulder was hauled to surface, as were some kibbles, a very large boulder is next. PC descended to drill numerous holes, at 11 inch – ish centres, into either side of the narrow east rift, out the way of the hauling route. Into these holes will be inserted short, (175mm), lengths of reinforced steel bar, (Rebar), which will act as rungs. Those rungs closer to the bottom may be removed to ease the constricted digging space. A single narrow plank needs be fixed from the bottom of the ladderway through the “Narrows” for ease of access into the shaft, and from which to assist intermediate hauling, and also access the new “ladder” down the shaft. Regarding the rumour of an ancient “Sluggagh” MC was true to his word; he has had a digger excavate a drain across the field pretty much along the shale boundary, this drain and stream seem to disappear into a hole in the field mote wall; will inspect later. Overall an awkward session, so swiftly made for the Roadside.

Hours 6, 606.
Pat Cronin

June 3rd     Considine's Cave

CC and PC
Warm and bright, light showers, midges, a trickle present. The plan; to dig. CC digging PC hauling. The spoil that had accumulated at the base of the ladder way was cleared and sent to surface along with the remaining wooden shoring chocks and associated tools. Here in this confined area is where the spoil will be temporarily stacked prior to the main haul as no safe refuge is presently available in the bottom of the shaft during any hauling to the surface eighteen metres above. Some seven kibbles worth of spoil, in total, were removed to surface along with several large-ish boulders. More 200mm lengths of 12mm rebar were fitted as rungs into 14mm holes previously drilled, the aluminium ladder taken to surface. The hauling rope has now been fashioned to be easily, quickly, lengthened between hauling from the ladderway or the surface. A smaller diameter kibble is required to make filling in the shaft easier and to also decant into normal sized kibbles. A large boulder is now in the way and needs immediate removal, this will offer access to another, then the floor of gravel can be cleared. The width of the east rift does appear to be increasing, and, appearing to cut/head under the northeast corner of the rift junction. Between a foot to eighteen inches were sunk tonight therefore more rungs need be fitted next session. To the Roadside.

Hours 5.5, 611,5.

Pat Cronin

June 8th     Considine's Cave

CC and PC
18:00. Cool evening, overcast, small stream running. The plan; to dig. CC descended once PC had set up a safer hauling system which included a 40 year old clogger, (jammer), on the 40 year old hauling rope, in preparation for lifting out the big boulder in the very bottom of the shaft. On getting this rock into the net CC then ascended to the ladderway during hauling. The lift was uneventful, the hauler raising the lump, with some difficulty, but under reasonable control. With the boulder out the floor was gravel floor was exposed. PC descended to the “plank” to haul mostly chatter, (gravels), from below, filling the kibbles stacked in the ladderway from the new smaller “scuttle”; 4 scuttles = 1 full kibble = effing ‘eavy. All later lifted to surface using the jamming device. The shaft base area does appear to be getting bigger. The southern rift requires ginging. The northern rift was seen down through a hole in the floor to be getting wider. The east rift appears to be sweeping toward the north and may provide valuable digging room; a session digging here is exhausting. A tape was used to measure the shaft from the shaft collar; the previous estimate of 18 metres is actually 17.5M. It is 14.2 metres to the “Plank” level, (bottom of the ladderway). Recent heavy rain showers have not wetted the ground. To a packed Roadside, great music.

Hours 5, 621.5

Pat Cronin

June 12th     Considine’s Cave

CC and PC
A cool breeze, wet after heavy showers, a fair stream present. The plan; to ginge the “narrows” below the “Plank” as the loosely compacted fill is unstable and liable to collapse from an overflowing stream. Various bits of kit and drill brought along to do other housekeeping. While CC ginged, PC cut ten inches off the bottom of the fixed ladder, making the journey between Plank and Ladderway free of belting his head, drilled more holes orientated inline and directly below the fixed ladder, installed a hanger to guide the hauling rope during working from the Plank, it only requires a pulley to complete the task. Using stones from the base of the shaft to ginge, CC caused a hole to open allowing the lump hammer to be pushed beneath, and beyond, the adjacent rock face for some nine inches beyond. If this is for real then the place may be widening. Heavy westerly showers promised Wednesday. To the Roadside.

Hours 5, 626.5

Pat Cronin

June 14th     Souterrain CL002-068002

Rine, Finavarra.
Dr Michelle Comber, Dr Noel McCarthy and PC
Further to an invite the trio inspected the site offering several explanations regarding a variety of aspects of its presence and use. Further to letting the owner know of the trip BK had very kindly, moved the cows from the field, turned off the electric fence and cut away the briar's. Hows that for a symbiotic relationship!
The plan is to return and remove the recently placed stones obstructing the way on.

Pat Cronin

June 15th     Considine’s Cave

JW, CC and PC
Overcast, mild, midges, a good sized stream. The plan; dig. CC digging, JW on the Plank, PC hauling from surface. Communications were excellent, hauling being swift and safe from shaft bottom to “Plank”. Stones, boulders and chatter removed. The half metre sunk this evening exposed more water worn wall features which still hinders our clear understanding what exactly is happening. Though the digging area is slightly larger, the northern rift appears to be widening. More ginging is required in the south rift. Gaps continue to appear among the fill so working on a safety lanyard has resumed. Two sessions of hauling were completed hence achieving the half metre or so of depth. Within the confined narrow rift this productive session means the lower rung is level with CC’s chest so at least three more rungs need fitting for CC to get out. To the Roadside, where an invite for free beer was extended to the Team at 16:00 on the 24th June…… Yippee!

Hours 7.5, 634

Pat Cronin

June 17th     Considine's Cave

CC and PC
Bright, sunny, warm, midges and a small stream. The plan; fit more rungs and dig. PC drilled four more rungs to access the bottom digging area then sorted out a deviation opposite the “Plank” to arrange hauling from the confines of the shaft bottom more centrally up the shaft. CC set to digging and ginging the southern rift, which is widening. The eastern rift has become a scoop returned to the edge of the main rift with an uneven edge. Searching for ginging stone CC excavated an area down, and into, the north rift; below, a distance of some two feet, the east wall appears to cut under. Among the spoil were two large boulders. The exposed wall formation still offers no clear indication of what to expect except it is not narrowing. All stacked spoil lifted to surface. Depth measured with tape as 18.4 metres from shaft collar. To the Roadside for pints and good music.

Hours 5, 639.

Pat Cronin

June 18th     Pouldubh

Joe, Chris, Canada, Jamie and PC.
In through middle entrance, downstream to old terminal limit and out through South entrance. First time underground for all, 3 x male + 1 female, (students from the Caherconnell dig).

Pat Cronin

June 21st     Pouldubh

Emily, Elly, Erin Ashley and PC
A first ever caving experience for three of the women from Caherconnell dig. In through middle entrance and out Pouldubh south via a trip downstream; a grand time.

Pat Cronin

June 22nd     Considine's Cave

CC and PC
Humid, a warm breeze, small trickle present, midges. The plan; to dig. CC digging PC hauling up to the Plank. The lower hauling system is evolving; the new length of tape repositioning the haul from CC on a slightly better route and away from dragging against the wall. The east rift has all but healed up leaving an irregular edge in the main rift, beneath this the area does seem to continue to widen, slightly. Down through yet another hole clean washed stone can be seen, their location appearing to indicate an undercut. Some ginging in the south rift took place, but digging produced some four kibbles and a stack of rocks, all left awaiting hauling to the surface owing to a shagged out team. To the Roadside for pints.

Hours 5, 644.

Pat Cronin

June 24th     Considine’s Cave

CC and PC
Overcast, lowering cloud followed rain showers, small stream present. The plan; to dig. The spoil stacked on the 22nd, at the Plank, was swiftly raised and evenly deposited along the path through the copse. CC descended to the bottom while PC set up shop at the Plank. Minor adjustment to the hauling position reduced the scuttle and kibbles dragging against the wall; more adjustment required. Boulders and chatter soon filled the Plank area causing congestion. Using his body as measurement CC estimated the latest depth at almost nineteen metres. Approaching the end of shift an ‘ole was uncovered down which fell small stones. Several larger stones were then rolled into the gap to confirm the incredulous sound. A one second period of rolling down a slope was followed by a half second of silence, then a thud. This vertical feature is estimated at some five metres suggesting an overall depth potential of at least 24 metres. The northern end at the bottom of the shaft continues to widen descending at an angle of some 60/70 degrees. The bottom of the confined lower shaft is now some five metres below the Plank. Increasing suspicion requires a better method of lifelining the digger, this heavier line will incorporate a full body harness the length of the lifeline being fully adjustable from the Plank position. TB returns soon, and will be thrilled with the progress. JW and CM were busy tonight preparing for their push in Fergus. A superb session. To the Roadside for drink.

Hours 5, 649.

Pat Cronin

June 24th     Considine’s Cave

CC and PC
Overcast, lowering cloud followed rain showers, small stream present. The plan; to dig. The spoil stacked on the 22nd, at the Plank, was swiftly raised and evenly deposited along the path through the copse. CC descended to the bottom while PC set up shop at the Plank. Minor adjustment to the hauling position reduced the scuttle and kibbles dragging against the wall; more adjustment required. Boulders and chatter soon filled the Plank area causing congestion. Using his body as measurement CC estimated the latest depth at almost nineteen metres. Approaching the end of shift an ‘ole was uncovered down which fell small stones. Several larger stones were then rolled into the gap to confirm the incredulous sound. A one second period of rolling down a slope was followed by a half second of silence, then a thud. This vertical feature is estimated at some five metres suggesting an overall depth potential of at least 24 metres. The northern end at the bottom of the shaft continues to widen descending at an angle of some 60/70 degrees. The bottom of the confined lower shaft is now some five metres below the Plank. Increasing suspicion requires a better method of lifelining the digger, this heavier line will incorporate a full body harness the length of the lifeline being fully adjustable from the Plank position. TB returns soon, and will be thrilled with the progress. JW and CM were busy tonight preparing for their push in Fergus. A superb session. To the Roadside for drink.

Hours 5, 649.

Pat Cronin

June 26th     Considine's Cave

CC and PC
A dirty enough day, dark skies and heavy rainfall all afternoon, midges, a large stream running. The plan; to haul out the stacked spoil and install several hangers for the new lifeline system below the Plank and arrange a hauling deviation. Parked up at the house as wet, flooded ground surfaces were clearly visible, therefore drilling was abandoned. Expected to see evidence of flooding none was present, or had occurred. The team set to hauling out the stacked spoil enduring the weather conditions. CC descended to the dig gingerly removing a few boulders to spy out below. Though still somewhat obscured there appears to be a wide, (150mm), gap to the east, however, large stones were falling away to the north the roof of this rift appears to continue steeply downward at some 70/80 degrees. Another east rift is developing and seeming to curve toward the north as previous eastern ones have done so. Perhaps this may head toward the lower area of the 1980s pitch? The bottom of the ladderway was very muddy which migrates onto the hauling rope causing difficulties holding onto, and controlling, the heavy hauls from CC who is permanently exposed to any falling object. So, the confined working area, of about seven square feet, was covered with timber pieces to create an easy to clean floor surface using the hose pipe which was lowered into position. Next session will drop the floor in the south rift and ginge to control any collapse, then drop the northern end. Depth was measured at -19.1m, ( using a tape). As rain stopped the midges attacked, in force. To the Roadside for a dry out and pints.

Hours, 5, 654.

Pat Cronin

June 29th     Considine’s Cave

CC and PC
Mild, overcast, wind force six gusting eight, no midges, a small stream. The plan; dig. Replaced the lower hauling rope with new and set up associated ironmongery as CC descended the shaft. As stones were lifted a hole appeared, then another, and so on. Thoughts swiftly turned to the massive collapse experienced near the Hydraulic shaft in Smallclough. So leaving CC suspended above the dodgy floor a further lifeline was arranged controlled via a self lifelining device so PC could have hands free to provide assistance. The working area is some 0.65 metre wide and 1.4 metres long. Varied inverted acrobatics, and much prodding with the “come hither” meant CC conveyed loose chatter down through said holes and increasing gaps. Among the many falling rocks two in particular drew attention, both created a curious noise suggesting a cavity a little larger than normal shaft dimensions. Bit by bit CC exposed a sandstone boulder, the present Keystone. At some 0.8 metres long, 0.45 metres wide and 0.225 metres thick estimated as between 170/200 kilos. Further work cleared the surrounding spoil which also meant the loose fill in the southern rift disappeared downward too; this needs ginging urgently, as there’s over a metre of assorted sized exposed unsupported overhanging debris. Should a flood occur it will likely wash away this entire deposit. After much more effort the keystone finally fell….hooray…… one metre, bugger. One end catching on a small projection in the northern rift, the other now sitting on compacted crap in the south; bugger, bugger. Eventually a shagged out Cheg climbed from the keystone jammed at just over twenty metres. The next session, 18:00 Saturday, will move the keystone, one way or another, and drop below. The hauling system was left in situ. A rather fine session. To the Roadside for well earned pints over which Plan A, Plan B and a Plan C were conceived to rid the dig of this “turbulent rock”.

Hours 5, 659.
Pat Cronin

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