April to June
22nd April Considine’s Cave (South End)
12:30: Cool: Wind NE, F2: Ground drying: Visibility >25Nm: Cloud 90%: No visible stream: The Plan; to check on the site. Generator started at first pull; run same for ten minutes; tank ½ full; closed tank valve, ran until carburetor was empty. All lights checked and found operational. All the pallets, erected as barriers for cattle, by CC, were in situ; a further barrier erected adjacent the generator. Recovered the Petzl Rig; used for lifelining, to lubricate and service. Looking down the open shaft arose the longing to dig. Looking down the shaft realized its present depth is similar to the main chamber pitch in Lamb Leer, Mendip.
28th April Cliff Cave, Fanore
Team: Jim Warny & Arek Pucol
Configuration: 2 X 7L and sidewinder re-breather (JW)
The plan was to scooter to the end of the cave and see how we get on scootering with two divers in terms of visibility being stirred up by the propeller wash. Getting to the cave was enjoyable on the scooter as opposed to a long surface swim.
Once in the cave we alternated leading with the second diver ending up with bad visibility.
We reached the junction at the side passage where Pucol continued in the side passage and Jim scooted on in the main passage to the dry section.
After surfacing Jim turned and joined Pucol at the junction where we swam into the side passage without the scooters. 40m into the side passage Jim spotted a hole in the roof, we deployed a reel and had a look in the hole. We found a room behind the hole and went in.
Sadly, the room had no continuing passage leading from it and silted out very quickly. So we returned to the scooters and made for the exit.
29th April Considine’s Cave (South End)
15:00. Cool: Wind NE, F4: Ground drying: Visibility >30Nm: Cloud 30%: very small stream. The Plan: to check on the winch. Stripped the cover off the winch, checked drive pulleys all moved well, started generator, and commenced running the winch for fifteen minutes. Pottered about, placing more barriers to impede cattle, and generally tidying. On the 5th May Covid-19 regulations ease for some, increasing travel to five kilometres; it appears, if the public adhere to the reg’s, that restrictions might finish before September.
6th May Paul (Torchy) Foster Dies
9th May Doline, Crumlin Townland
11:00. Wind NE, F2, cool: Sunny: 19°C. From Drunken Horse Hole prospected the area south, toward Cliff Cave, (Poul Aillte). Crumlin Townland has evidence of an ancient field system and several enclosures; a cursory look observe 0.8m thick walls. which does not suggest them medieval; site CL004-025---- at ITM 510114 x 703277 is recorded as a Cashel, most likely during the ordnance survey of the 19th century. With only a couple of hours available conducted a systematic search from the high ground at +130m along the ridge between the valley at the base of the cliffs and the descending ground to the south-south-west. This exposed area is karst, heavily broken by glaciation and weathering, irregularly interspersed with small fields for grazing. Found a doline at ITM 509868 x 703075; some forty five metres long fifteen metres wide and four metres deep, (below averaged, adjacent karst surface). When viewed in the digital imagery of the Archaeology.ie website it would appear this doline is indeed on, or very close to the route of Cliff Cave, (Poul Aillte), which appears as the fault line seen in the imagery. Landownership would appear the same as Drunken Horse Hole; the site is a long term dig, and likely compacted with melting glacial debris.
24th May Pollatoomary (Pollflanagan), Bellaburke, County Mayo
Team: Jim Warny ,Adam Swerin & Arek Pucol
Max Depth: 72m
Configuration: 1 X AL40 100% O2
1 X Al 40 50% EAN
1 X 12l Air
1 X 12l Trimix 18/43
Jim relined the shaft to -50m and swam on to -72m.
Adam and Arek had a short dive down to -20m.
24th May Poulsallagh to Poulcraveen
Wind SW, F6; Sunny; Low Water springs, 12:48. The Plan; arranged with Pauline for a lift to Poulsallagh and pick up at McGann’s; (Closed, Covid-19). Walked to Poulsallagh Cave; the shaft entrance has a large boulder deposited by the sea in the passage heading toward the cliff, but remains passable. Low water conditions allowed the depth, and nature of its unroofed canyon passage to be appreciated; at some 0.5m wide and three metres deep. As the unroofed section enters the limestone terrace a boulder is jammed at the edge of daylight; unable to assess access. Continued to S4, a choked rift dug to -3m; by PCN; prevailing storms assail the adjacent bay, some four hundred metres distant allowing turbulent seas to pick up and deposit debris often far beyond S4 position. Near S4, a Productus bed, (terrace), is crossed; the next terrace above this also contains Productus; each bed is some 0.8m thick. Headed inland, to avoid the unstable storm beach, onto the elevated pasture terraces; located the sea cave visited previously with Barry Sudell, took photos and recorded its position, (ITM 508162 x 700488), some one hundred metres beyond is a Cliff Edge Fort, (CL008-124001), potentially Iron Age, or perhaps Early Medieval. Erosion has created an extensive cavity beyond the surface opening of the Sea Cave, beneath the south side. At ITM 507740 x 700170, a significant channel enters the sea having meandered some three hundred metres; it appears to be an unroofed cave passage; warrants further work. Stopped to brew up a kilometre south of Fraggle Rock; noted just the two Gentians among the other blooms; Violets, Pink and Pyramid Orchids were well represented, though many of the Orchids had all but finished. Continued on to just north of Poulcraveen; crossed inland to Killilagh Church, met up with Pauline for Tea and Medals. Doolin and environs devoid of people.
Top Left. S4, View north.
S4, View East, the dig, a pot, covered by debris, the result of storms assailing the bay some four hundred metres to the southwest; the sea often reaches to and beyond here.
Above. View south, Sea Cave; (ITM 508162 x 700488).
25th May Cat’s hole (Pollnagot), Gorteenroe, County Mayo
Team: Jim Warny & Konrad Novak
Configuration: 2 X 7L Ean32 + Sidewinder rebreather
A swift carry saw Jim in the water first.
He set off and progressed fast through to the 7th sump where Martyn’s reel was picked up. The way on was up an obvious 45 degree slope to the surface approximately 40m away. Upon surfacing the line was secured and the reel abandoned.
The way on is a stream dropping from the sump pool and curving off to the right. The floor and walls have very sharp outcrops formed by the flow. After a short walk on these with the dry suit boots, Jim decided it would be wiser to come back with boots another day.
Entrance to Cats Hole
29th May Poulcraveen
HW neaps 10:48: Hot: Sunny: Sea State, smooth: The Plan; walk up the coast line from Ballyhagline to Roadford. Pauline provided transport, whilst the Hilux is being fixed, dropping PC at the Coast Guard Station. Even though the 5km travel restriction is still in force some visitors are present for the Bank Holiday weekend. Absence of ferries and people has allowed the sea to return to stunning clarity. Tide level meant hopping and scrambling around the collapse area of cliff face at Poulcraveen. Much of the remaining cave passage is filled with storm debris and rotting seaweed, creating a fearful stench. What hasn’t been appreciated by PC is the northern end of the cave exposure, here is a surviving section of original cave passage; the floor covered with storm deposited gravel and cobbles, it does however offer a superb glimpse of the original passage size much now eroded away; width almost three metres, height almost six, well defined scallops and other fresh water eroded features present; nice. Temperature in the mid twenties; brewed up north of the cave; cut across the fields to Roadford to complete the circuit.
29th May Cat’s hole (Pollnagot), Gorteenroe, County Mayo
Team: Jim Warny
Configuration: 2 X 7L Ean32
Todays plan was to push beyond the bend in the streamway beyond sump 7, with appropriate footwear (canyoning boots over the dry suit socks).
The carry in was quite fast (2 trips with 3 bags of gear).
While setting up the rebreather at dive base I realised my counter lung was still hanging in the garage at home. Luckily, all was not lost as the sidewinder re-breather just clips on the harness, so it was decided to ditch the re-breather and go open circuit.
Progress through the sumps was fast and sump 7 was reached with 150bar left in each cylinder. The dive to pass sump 7 was over just as thirds where hit on both cylinders.
There the cylinders and dive gear were stored and I set off in the unknown passage beyond the bend I saw last time. The streamway falls at a consistent 30 degree angle. After a bend to the right and one to the left a junction is met which oxbows for 20ish meters where both passages drop into a sump pool (Sump8).
A low passage can be seen to be heading off in a NE direction.
The streamway is beautifully decorated with flow-stone formations on the walls and floor, proving quite lethal and sharp bits of rock where a fall has taken place. The explored streamway was paced on the way out and measures +/- 90m and a solid trend in the NE direction towards Pigeons hole.
Sketch plan of the newly discovered passage between sumps 7 & 8
Jim Warny Before & After the Dive in Cat's Hole
1st June Cat’s hole (Pollnagot), Gorteenroe, County Mayo
Team: Jim Warny, Arek Pucol and Sherpa Adam Swerin
Configuration: 2 X 7L Ean32 and Sidewinder re-breather
Todays plan was to push sump 8.
Adam and Arek helped with the carry in and checked the cave to see if they would dive as well. Arek decided to go for a dive and see what it is like.
I set off on my own while filming through the sumps until the end of sump 6. Surfacing at the end of sump 7 I took off my fins and side mount cylinders and carried them to sump 8 while still wearing the rebreather. I found a nice belay at the edge of the water and tied off Martyn’s reel that I had recovered earlier.
I set off into the sump 8. The slope was falling away steeply and soon I was at -6m some 40m in to the sump where I could see a passage going off to the right but I decided to go to the left as this seemed bigger and was descending. After about 60m I ran out of line and tied in a fresh reel with 120m on it .
The sump continued to drop at a consistent pace and by the end of my reel I was at -27m. I tied off on a rock and stowed the reel. The temperature in the end of the sump seemed colder than the previous parts. I could see the passage going off in the distance at sizable dimensions (6m wide by 3m high).
The return was uneventful and I checked my bearings, the trend seems to be N/E. Next dive I will survey what I can.
On the way back I met Arek in sump 6 and followed him back from where I had come to the end of sump 6. After a brief chat we set off back to the entrance.
On the way home we popped by Pigeonhole and helped Arek do a dive in the upstream section as Konrad had reported that the entrance was collapsed. Arek found the entrance restriction closed off by boulders and gravel, he managed to clear most of it and reckons after one more dive it should be passable again.
Arek Pucol, Jim Warny & Adam Swerin at the entrance to Cat's Hole
2nd June Cat’s hole (Pollnagot), Gorteenroe, County Mayo
Team: Jim Warny
Duration: 172min cumulated dive time
Configuration: 2 X 7L Ean32 and Sidewinder re-breather
Todays plan was to push further in sump 8 and survey what I could. Carry and setup went swiftly as the cylinders where left in the cave after yesterday’s dive.
I set off through the sumps in quick succession until sump 7 where I started surveying the extension from Martyn’s end of line, this amounted to 168m from there to the surface of the far end of sump 7. From there on I ditched the survey gear and carried my gear to sump 8.
I set off in the sump and quickly reached my previous limit. I tied in a new reel and started off, the passage trended N/NE and took the shape of low bedding with a variation of silty and clean washed floor. After having explored 100m I hit -37m of depth and was in front of a low restriction with clean washed gravel sloping in from the far end. I carefully scooped at the gravel; it came down but not at an alarming rate. I could see the passage might open beyond the restriction but did not feel brave enough to push through it today. I reckon the bulk of the flow comes through the restriction and washes the gravel that is trapped there due to the steep slope behind the narrowing.
Decompression was racking up, so I decided to head back. While decompressing at -6m I tied in the second reel I brought and set off in the side passage I noted yesterday. The passage also trended N /NE at 3m by 3m dimensions and further in lowering to 70cm. This passage is a lot siltier than the deep one. I stopped at a depth of -11m and 65m.
3rd June Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC, JW & PC
13:00. Sunny: Wind NW, F6: Visibility >25Nm: Cloud 60%: No visible stream: Ground very dry; hard. The Plan: maintenance, and photos. JW descended taking photos from various positions. PC started the generator and ran the winch; all good, generator is ½ full. Touched on options of potential change to the digging regime, circumstances now require three for it to progress. Asked Jonathon permission to have deliveries of lintels to the house; granted.
Hours 3 (2540), Southend (1490), Kibbles 0 (4955), Nets 0 (828), Total 5763.
6th June Pigeonhole, Clogher, County Galway
Team: Jim Warny and Arek Pucol
Duration: 145min cumulated dive time
Configuration: 2 X 7L Ean32 and Sidewinder re-breather
Todays plan was to go and see the far side of the upstream sump and see if it would be possible to exit the water and find the next sump.
Arek had cleared the blocked entrance restriction during the week, with the aid of a rake and a lump hammer. The entrance restriction was passed with ease. A moment was spent by both divers settling in with the gear as we both where testing some new additions.
The trip in was nice and slow while carefully checking the lines and numerous junctions on the way in. The line state was quite good considering the high flows during the winter in this cave. Arek in the lead guided us to the surface on the far side of the sump, the dive took 58 minutes of leisurely paced swimming.
At the surface, Jim took off his side mount cylinders and fins and climbed out of the water. This proved rather difficult with the deep muddy slope leading up. When Jim turned the corner, he met a restriction that he couldn’t pass with his rebreather on. Beyond the restriction the passage can be seen getting bigger and continuing. There is a small stream flowing through the restriction. A return without the rebreather and a sturdier dry suit is planned soon.
Jim returned to the water and Arek and Jim had a bit of a chat and decided to check some side passages noted close to the end of the sump. We found another passage leading to the surface with a steep slope leading off, this would be a committing climb as the slope is quite steep and with the deep water below. Another side passage was found and at the end Jim pushed to a restriction leading to a room where another squeeze could be seen, this was left for next time as the visibility caught up with Jim.
The return was uneventful.
The return leg of the dive was 87 minutes due to the poking around the side passages.
15th June Cliff Cave, Fanore
Team: Jim Warny
Configuration: 2 X 12L , AL80 and Sidewinder re-breather
The plan was to scooter to the junction at 850m and leave the stage cylinder and scooter there and then to swim to the end of the line in the side passage trending SE about 1700m in and try and see if there was a way on from where I stopped 4 years ago.
The scooter to the cave took 10min and after another 25min I was at the junction where I dropped the scooter and stage cylinder.
The swim to the end of the side passage was pleasant and occasionally stopping to install more silt screws to secure the line a bit better. Once past the deep point-19m I was close to the end of the line, another 200m saw me at -6m in the chamber where I turned last time. I could see the passage continuing in a low squeeze at the bottom of the chamber. I ducked into the squeeze and found my reel from last time; it was well and truly tangled.
By that time, the visibility had turned to zero. I quickly tied on a fresh reel and pressed forward to where I could see open passage, just before the visibility went zero again. I continued blind for another 2m and planted a silt screw and left my reel. On the way out of the squeeze I cut of the old reel and brought it back with me.
The way back was uneventful.
10min - Cave Entrance. 35min - Junction 850m. 100min - End of the line. 145min - Junction 850m. 170min - Cave entrance. 180min – Water exit .
Jim Warny reunited with his line real after four years
The line real is re-usable except for the crab. (Offers Al ?)
15th June Considine’s Cave, (South End)
Cheg Chester, Jim Warny, Cathal Mullane & Pat Cronin
Sunny: Wind W, F2: Ground hard, bone dry: Visibility >35Nm: Large thunder head forming in the bay; torrential downpour visible to its NNW: No stream or water issuing from the supply pipe: Midges: JW and PC arrived early to prepare the surface kit for digging; the first actual digging session since 13th February, other February sessions had focused on installing the fixed ladder to the very bottom of the pot. PC took a while to remember where everything was to ensure safe working practice, all soon sorted; JW descended to continue levelling the floor at -21m. CM and CC soon arrived. CC winching, PC unloading, CM barrowing and JW digging. Though a relatively short session thirty kibbles were raised and four nets; that’s manpower for you. However, the session ended due to dense clouds of midges forcing the Team to run for it. Generator almost ½ full: dodgy shaft light needs replacing: comm’s cables released and ready to lift to surface. No Roadside, No pints; misery.
Hours 9 (2549), Southend (1499), Kibbles 30 (4985), Nets 4 (832), Total 5817.
19th June Cliff Cave, Fanore
Team: Jim Warny
Configuration: 2 X 12L , AL80 and Sidewinder re-breather
The plan was to go and see if I could push further in the passage I spotted leading on from where I turned the dive on Monday (15/06/2020). An early start was made as the forecast predicted a slightly higher sea state for the afternoon.
Progress was slow once the scooter was staged at 850m, due to a dropping tide the flow was quite strong. Just before the end of the line I spotted an easier route through the restriction, so I tied of the line and proceeded in the right-hand side of the restriction. After 5m I passed the low restriction and got into a slightly roomier passage. For about 50m the passage zigzagged between big rooms and low restrictions. Just before the end I hit a split in the passage, I took the right-hand side. After a couple of meters this ended in a dead end. I turned the dive there.
The return through the new passage was in absolute 0 visibility, and most of the way back in the side passage was with very limited visibility.
A few minutes after turning the dive I decided to bail out on open circuit as I could feel a build-up of co2 in the breathing loop. I switched back to the re-breather a few times but didn’t feel comfortable so stayed open circuit. Exiting the water was uneventful and the sea state was actually better than upon entry.
The full compliment of equipment for todays dive. If anyone is willing to help me sherpa gear in the future I would not say No
Cliff Cave survey superimposed onto Google Earth. This only shows the sumps, the dry section at the end of the Main Passage is yet to be surveyed
21st June Ringforts – Potential digs
NG & PC
Sunny: Cloud 50%: Wind SW, F6 gusting 8: Returned to Caherdoon ringfort to review the exposed souterrain, which has had its roof lintels removed. Intend to return with reduced volume of surveying equipment to record both it and the ringfort. After tea and munchies headed for Caherduff ringfort; enroute encountered a dig site; ITM 517762 x 703271; previously shown by Quentin Cowper to Tony Boycott and PC after a digging session at Poulcaherdoon. This large, obvious pothole entrance is choked with assorted sized boulders; it is a cracking site, though the possible owner may not be too accommodating for digging to take place: it’s a lofty, remote location among very rough ground. Around Caherduff, dolines and gulleys display an extensive, ancient surface drainage. Caherduff, (ITM 511300 x 703745), is situated seven hundred metres northeast of Caherdoon on a north facing terrace, well sheltered from the prevailing southwesterlies; it appears ruinous, the rampart wall, now, for the most part, is only one stone thick, and that is a recent construct; much of the rampart appears removed from site. Visible foundations illustrate an original wall thickness of some 2.5 metres. Within the garth dense hazel bushes obscure the ground surface. Fifty metres to the ENE a deep hollow within the face of the cliff has the appearance of an ancient resurgence; this site needs attention. Returning to the motors stumbled across Poulcaherdoon; ITM 510615 x 703537. This dig was once thought it could access Poulnagrai beyond its sumps; now long abandoned. Assisting the then diggers it seemed the uneven, kilometre walk to the dig was not liked by many involved, particularly during the darker months: a cracking walk in good company.
22nd June Considine’s Cave, (South End)
Mild: Low cloud, (100m): Heavy drizzle: Visibility ≤5Nm: Wind F4 gusting 6: Minor flow in stream. The plan: address practicalities to protect farmstock from the northern shaft. One consideration has been to install a number of concrete lintels across the rift. Dangling in the rift, examination of the northwestern point noted that where a useful two inch high bedding had developed, which was intended to be enlarged to insert the series of parallel lintels, is in fact three separate sections of bedrock, which appear separated from the main bedrock face by a thin vertical, calcite joint, and from each other by bedding joints; the areas integrity is therefore suspect. Further down the rift other horizontal joints have developed but only by a few millimetres; a significant amount of cutting would be required to insert said lintels, not least the erection of a platform to conduct this work from.
The overburden the working platform frame rests upon is up to 1.2m thick; adjacent the rift edge it’s something like 0.8m. This covers a reasonably level limestone surface beneath, as exposed when preparing to cover the southern rift opening. All things considered, the solution presented is that the overburden be dug away from the west and east sides of the rift to a width of say 0.4m, enough to kneel on during digging. The width of the rift at its widest point would be something like three and a half metres, too great a span for the originally proposed concrete lintels. The only practicable cover when all things are considered becomes a prefabricated arrangement of five galvanized 100mm x 100mm angle steels, between 2.5m - 3.5m long, set at something like 0.6m centres, fixed at their ends with equal sized lateral steel, inside which is inserted gantry mesh, an acknowledged, secure walking surface. This covering could be assembled by degrees beneath the existing infrastructure without any disturbance by two men. Design considerations yet continue, accurate measurements may only be made after excavating the overburden perimeter. No Roadside; bugger.
Hours 1 (2550), Southend (1500), Kibbles 0 (4985), Nets 0 (832), Total 5817.
25th June Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC & PC
13:00. Cloud 80%: Midges: Warm: Midges: Humid: Midges: Visibility >20Nm: Midges: Small stream: The Plan; measure / survey the pothole entrance for its proposed cover. Whilst PC swung about below the platform CC trimmed back the seriously encroaching undergrowth. More poking was conducted to precisely identify the boundary between overburden and limestone. The area of questionable integrity appears stable. However, have no intention whatsoever of trusting it with any form of weight, or disturbance installing the framework; the lower of the three questionable lumps estimated at 120Kgs. The bars are likely to open soon; drinking will resume after waiting an appropriate amount of time enough for the beer in the pipes to be replaced with their latest delivery.
Hours 2 (2552), Southend (1502), Kibbles 0 (4985), Nets 0 (832), Total 5817.
29th June Considine’s Cave, (South End)
Light rain: Cloud base <100m: Visibility <500m: Wind W, F6 gusting 7 decreasing: Tiny stream: The Plan; prepare ground for the proposed shaft grill cover. Set up an SRT rope off the tripod via a 50mm pulley deviation suspended from the vertical scaffold pole; rope threaded down through a pallet slot into the shaft below. Spragged across the shaft to excavate several holes at about 250mm centres, along the margin of the overburden and limestone. Difficulties experienced manoeuvring with the rope through the pallet slot; needs sorting. Locating a continuous limestone level initially proved illusive, the area adjacent the fixed ladder being a hollow eroded by water, now filled with compacted clay. Using a nail bar four holes 150mm deep were easily dug out, virtually level with the proposed bedding on the west side. The shape at the end of the rift opening will likely require two longitudinal scaffold poles secured across the lateral ones protruding into said gap to support the heavy mesh intended to close off this gap; this will also add to the integrity of the grill. Next task requires the installation of the horizontal scaffold pole on the opposite, west side from which to secure those spanning the rift.
Hours 2 (2554), Southend (1504), Kibbles 0 (4985), Nets 0 (832), Total 5817.