1st October Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC, KLD, PC
Cool: Cloud 40%: Wind SW, F4: Visibility >20Nm: Medium stream: Ground sodden: The Plan: Dig. CC winching: KLD digging: PC unloading and barrowing. Another pallet trundled across; this leaves four on the track. KLD continued CM’s progress into the hauling zone. Conducted by ceasing all hauling, and closing off the shaft as the area was dug, and multiple kibbles filled. Only then were these lifted when the digger was clear of the danger zone; this safe procedure was repeated several times. Twenty two lifts were raised; two of which were heavy nets. Conservatively some 1.5 tonnes: with last nights effort their combined weight some 3.5 tonnes. Generator ½ full: five litres on site.
Hours 6 (2634), Southend (1584), Kibbles 20 (5187), Nets 2 (857), Total 6044
3rd October Lisnanroum
Nick Geh, PC
10:00. Superb sunny day: Wind NW, F2: Visibility, infinite: The Plan: continue survey project. NG was splendid as support and data recorder. Whilst PC set up the kit to survey the narrow, short section of passage, NG cut away the briars exposing the entrance area, which assumes an almost precise southwesterly bearing. Unfortunately the walls along this section of unroofed passage have experienced disturbance, and some collapse. The absence of roof lintels here, like part of the other, adjacent souterrain, strongly suggests them robbed for building materials. Minor issues were experienced where the sunlight affected visibility of the red laser; physical contortions sorted this. The landowner, Mary Davoren, paid a surprize visit; the first time MD and PC had ever met: a pleasant talk ensued, MD demonstrating a genuine interest in heritage and the landscape. PC mentioned he’d forgotten the tea bags; MD offered to drop some up by lunchtime: nice. After tea, and medals, the pair began to reconcile the locations of the recognizable features within both enclosures; the volume of resultant data quite significant. Parting, NG described a souterrain on land owned by acquaintances of his; plans afoot to visit, as soon as permission is obtained.
4th October Poulnagrai
Storm Alex: Rain: Wind F8, gusting 10: Medium stream. The Plan: birthday treat, and exercise the limbs. Changing was challenging, the open area at the road junction windswept: pursued an errant helmet for twenty metres until caught against the wall; no damage to lamp. No knee pads meant the crawls were a little painful, and a bit damp. Stared along the Traverse; decided to visit sump I. At surface, showers were torrential; returned home along the green road back, to enjoy the march of approaching storm clouds.
5th October Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC, NG & PC
Cloud cover 100%, at ≈1000ft: Visibility <10Nm: Wind NW, F4: Small stream: Ground wet: The Plan: maintenance. Another pallet trundled across; this leaves three at the track. CC lubricated the wheels on the receiver, (rolling shaft cover), and topped the oil in the generator. Meanwhile PC replaced the final three pallets on the barrow run, which fell apart when lifted. NG cut back briars and foliage: a very useful session. Generator ½ full: five litres on site. National Covid sanctions to be updated later today.
Hours 6 (2640), Southend (1590), Kibbles 0 (5187), Nets 0 (857), Total 6044
8th October Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC, KLD, PC
Cool: Cloud 30%: Wind W, F3: Visibility >30Nm: Small stream: Ground wet: The Plan: Dig. CC winching: KLD digging: PC unloading and barrowing. Trundled another pallet across to the dig; two remain at the track, and two spare on site. KLD continued removing the floor directly beneath the hauling way; to increase digger safety the shaft remained closed off, whilst KLD filled all the kibbles, which were then lifted whilst KLD retired to a safe place; this procedure was repeated thrice. Of the twenty five lifts, three were heavy nets, and twenty two kibbles of rock, gravels and clays. The floor is approaching level, some 1.5 metres below the fixed ladder, a depth reading should be made. The signal box fixing needs lowering. A rope was installed to raise the lamp within lifting it by its cable. Generator just below ½ full: five litres on site.
Hours 6 (2646), Southend (1596), Kibbles 22 (5209), Nets 3 (860), Total 6069
10th October Considine’s Cave, (South End)
Chill: Cloud 80%: Showers: Wind NW, F4/6: Visibility <20Nm: Medium stream: Ground sodden. The Plan: replace two pallets beneath the east winch shed wall; over the 25m pitch. Trundled another pallet across; one left on the track. Fitted two car jacks beneath a 4x2 horizontal timber, threaded through the vertical pallets forming the wall: method designed to lift the whole wall an inch to replace dodgy pallets with new ones: estimated some three years old. Task not as straightforward as first imagined, operating over the exposed, gaping Maw. In the circumstances decided to replace a third: the one in front the winch. Task completed, secured planks forming the small barrow ramp; all pallets along the barrow route have been replaced. Cleaned and cleared area of accumulated detritus. Delighted with the progress, the Team checked the ladderway. Upon descent, a slat in the lower pallet, directly above the 20+ metre shaft, snapped, for a brief moment the world stood still, as PC peered through the hole: Discussing its ease of replacement, a plan swiftly formed. More pallets needed. Generator just below ½ full: five litres on site: a productive session.
Hours 6 (2652), Southend (1602), Kibbles 0 (5209), Nets 0 (860), Total 6069
East side of the winch house jacked up to allow the removal of the ageing pallets it rest upon
First of the three pallets in position to the rear with the direct 25m North shaft exposed in front of the winch
14th October Souterrain, CL006-048001
NG & PC
Cold: Wind N, F2: Visibility >40Nm.
Discussing archaeological sites, in the northeast of the Burren, NG described one souterrain’s remote, lofty location. After a while, PC realized this was one of the one hundred and fifty in Clare listed for potential inclusion in the project. Fortunately NG knows the landowner, who is amenable toward such research. Today was to assess the souterrain, and any adjacent features. The souterrain is a kilometre north of the small mountain road, between Eagle Rock, Slievecarran, and the village of Carron. Met NG at this gate; parked up the motors. Walked the rough, drivable track for ½ km; here the track ends; bumped into Luke Davoren of Kilcorney. Walked west for two hundred metres, from the water cisterns, encountering a faint hollow in the steep face, (60°), close to the wall; ascending this, a gulley develops. As the steep slope begins to ease, a ruinous wall feature is encountered, beyond which is a small hut circle; a little further are several, anonymous stone features. The gulley deepens, continuing north; the souterrain is located 300m to the northwest from this hut. Ascending the west wall of the gulley, hidden beyond the ridge, is an obvious area of settlement. A ruinous cashel sits on the brow of the steep hillside; behind it are at least two huts. Further uphill are three lines of stone walls, they appear constructed to create, and retain prepared, flattened areas, (cultivation of crops?). At the summit of gulley is a final terrace, in which is the small, souterrain entrance. Three metres away, a natural cavity in the cliff face mark the end of the souterrain passage; this cavity was utilized as the souterrains terminal chamber. The souterrain is at +270m elevation.
The passage is 3.1m long, from entrance to cliff face. The natural cavity is two metres long; partly filled with a significant amount of stone debris. The souterrain interior illustrates the problem obtaining roofing lintels of the correct length: thus far, this system of support unseen; the two lintels adjacent the cliff face cavity rest directly upon four slim vertical flags, (columns), accommodating these too “short” lintels. A swift assessment immediately suggests the area is not one in which to linger long; the slim columns appearing unstable and fragile: though they have been there a thousand years.
Coursed stone walls, the length of the passage have been so placed to reduce the width of the trench to facilitate use of the available lintels of a length barely of sufficient to span the open excavation. Location of the entrance appears to have been a deliberate choice; the small opening set within the possible cultivated area, its cover a boulder, rolled into position? As the three metres of passage approaches the cavity a large, natural step in the limestone bed raises up to the natural cavity floor surface level; the entire souterrain was relatively small; perhaps enough to secret a dozen non-combatants. The opening of the natural cavity in the cliff face was very likely to have been built up with stone work and further camouflaged with vegetation applied to match the adjacent, limestone cliff. The plan to survey the site, and its features need recognize the forthcoming winterage; when cattle ascend the Burren Mountains to feed throughout the winter and calve; likely will arrange to start next spring.
18th October Wookey hole
Jim Warny, Chris Jewell, George Lianne and Max Fisher
Max Depth: -24m
Configuration: 1x 7L 1x10L 1x3L
Taking up Chris Jewel’s invitation to come and dive Wookey hole while working on a documentary project in London was a no brainer. It would beat sitting in a travel lodge for the weekend. On the Friday evening I took a chance to stop near Bristol to visit Matt Randal who moved back to the UK from Ireland several years ago, we spent the day touristing the local area.
On Saturday evening I set of to Chris Jewels place in Cheddar village to spend the night there and have curry and a few sensible pints.
In the morning we threw together our gear in Chris’s garage and set off. In the show cave’s carpark, we filled out the usual form and met up with the rest of the divers, George and Max.
The plan would be to dive to chamber 24 and then for Chris to do a quick dive in chamber 25 to retrieve the collapsible habitat left behind after a push dive earlier in the year. We decided to dive in at the resurgence so I could see as much passage as possible. The carry was swift and scenic through the dinosaur garden and other tourist attractions.
We would be diving in wetsuits, luckily enough Chris lent me a hooded vest to wear over my 6mm wetsuit.
Myself and Chris set off as a pair behind Max and George followed a short while later. With Chris leading we made swift progress trough to chamber 22. The visibility was certainly better than Ireland for me (+/-2m) but below average according to the local divers. In Chamber 22 we met Max, he had some trouble with his sinuses and decided to turn back.
By the time we had carried our first load over the dry section to the next dive base, George caught up with us. The following 2 sumps where shallow and muddy and were passed swiftly.
In 24 me and George helped Chris carry his gear to the dive base and had a poke around the camp that is a permanent setup for longer dives. Chris returned with the habitat and a stage cylinder after about 30min.
All of us were getting quite cold at this point so we didn’t hang about and started heading out. On the way out we carried the retrieved stage cylinder. We decided to exit the water at chamber 9 and walk out of the cave, to shorten the diving and stay warm.
It was great to have finally dived the infamous Wookey hole, after hearing so much about the place throughout the years.
Jim Warny at the entrance to Wookey Hole
18th October Cullaun 1
17:30. Cold: Wind NW, F4. With much of the forestry cut down, finding the entrance is very easy. Used a handline on the five metre entrance pitch: scampered off downstream, reached the pot, about turned; uneventful exit.
19th October Lockdown Ireland (again)
An Taoiseach announces a six week lockdown from midnight 21st Oct. until 1st December.
21st October Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC, KLD, PC
Cold: Wind N, F2/3: Cloud 50%: Visibility <20Nm: Ground sodden: Medium stream. The Plan: Dig. CC winching: KLD digging: PC unloading and barrowing. PC trundled the remaining pallet across the field. KLD continued lowering the base of the hauling shaft, swiftly achieving below -22m depth, among well washed boulders and loose gravels; several large boulders were exposed which require removal by net. “The Pinch”, in the north shaft is at -22m: the shape of the shaft, this side of the separating rib is much wider in section. Again, the procedure of securing the shaft closed whilst digging took place was conducted, to avoid any mishap. KLD then turned attention to the south side of the “narrows” removing a heavier clay/gravel matrix. Of the twenty six lifts, one was a very heavy net; kibbles consisted of fourteen cobbles and eleven gravels.
The boulder pile along the northern boundary averages some three and a half metres deep, two and a half high and nine metres long, and continues to grow, westward. Some nine more tonnes may be accommodated within its present retaining wall. The gravel, and clay spoil area grows, ever smaller, tipping now requires negotiating a narrow uphill route, so as to tip into the area within/beneath Jonathan’s copse. The spoil area, to the north of the path, adjacent the stile increases in height, unfortunately it’s small; washed gravels are being utilized to create a ramp up which to run the barrow to tip along the boundary with Jonathan’s field. Whilst the lockdown continues it would pay to prepare a spoil area behind the winch shed; this will need two of the original pallets to be replaced to take the increased, heavy traffic; both are beneath, and support the west wall of the winch shed. Generator ½ full: no fuel on site. Lifeline descender removed for servicing.
At midnight, tonight, a national, Level Five curfew is being introduced, predominantly to reduce Covid-19 hospital admissions, fearing available hospital beds will not cope with the normal seasonal intake of winter flu admissions.
Hours 6 (2664), Southend (1614), Kibbles 25 (5252), Nets 1 (863), Total 6115
25th October Possible souterrain: Teergonean Td. Doolin, ITM 506952 x 698550
15:30. Torrential showers of rain and hail. Wind W, F6/7. Previously this site appeared to be a potential souterrain, abandoned during its construction. With the foliage much reduced, a clearer view noted that a geological fault along 020/200°True visibly extends for 600 metres. A narrow limestone vertical band formed along the fault has permitted quarrying of this narrow weak band to a depth of one metre, and then removal of the adjacent Clints. Reduction of vegetative cover allowed the edges of the wide gryke closer scrutiny. The conclusion is this artificially widened gryke is not an intended souterrain, rather the source of building materials for the five adjacent stone ringforts, (Cashels), and six enclosures. It does however demonstrate the same process required to create such a trench in a limestone landscape, and then covered with lintels.
29th October Road Sign Hole
Pauline told PC of a “Sink Hole” appearing earlier in the day, near a previous collapse, Fitz’s Cross Pot, 14th May 2008. At that time, 2008, several small collapses occurred across the large graveled car park, terminating at the largest hole, six metres deep. In poor, unstable ground, PC then recommended the owners install concrete pipes to reduce the potential of future collapse and associated legal claims by anyone losing vehicles down such an ‘ole. This would support the ground admirably, and also enable long term monitoring of ground conditions; surreptitiously enabling digging into Doolin River Cave.
ITM 507666 x 696961
Elevation 24 m
08:30. 29th October; further to watching a road sign sink slowly into the ground, a concerned driver swiftly called the Gardai, who swiftly advised him to call the Council, who swiftly advised him to call the Coast Guard, who swiftly advised him to stay away from it, and by the way, did he have a ladder PC could use? On arrival council employees were crowded about the hole; using John Doherty’s ladder PC descended as the end of the ladder sank into the fine broken shale. Looking up from the bottom PC enquired of the plan to stabilize this collapse? Those present told of the imminent arrival of a 20 tonne lorry laden with big Limestone rocks. A swift assessment recorded the hole as two metres diameter tapering slightly to the surface; four metres deep, the walls consist of a shale and clay matrix: Poking about the open hole in its base, the foreman threw down a spanner and asked, as the sign pole, and its concrete foundation was now irretrievable, as PC was down there could he remove the 80/50km signs, please. The ladder required attaching to the digger bucket to lift it out the shale it had sunk into. Exited to the rumble of the lorry; ten minutes later the hole was filled with rocks and levelled off. Last night some two inches of rain fell with all the rivers very swollen; another three predicted tonight.
5th November Lost Jim Rieuwerts
5th November Cullaun II
16:00. Cloud 80%: Chill: Wind NW, F2: Small stream. Needed to exercise the back; so chose the round trip. Took the high level passage; down the climb, back up the main passage. From just inside the entrance, to the cascades, the invert of the streamway was covered with a fine, beige/light grey deposit; on the return journey submerged footprints were still visible, unaffected by the current. The place really has cracking formations, a useful trip: the back much improved.
6th November Souterrain CL004-016040
Cloud 40%, increasing: Wind SE, F3: Cold. The Plan: to survey the ringfort surrounding this souterrain. Parked on the boreen east of Pollantobar, (Tober an athar chalbhaigh), took a slow, ½ hour walk across awful ground; many, many grykes hidden by grass. Arriving at the ringfort; wintering cattle were noted a kilometre to the northwest. Set up survey kit, in excellent sunlight began taking photos of souterrain entrance; surprized by stealth cattle, and their young, sneaking into the ringfort. Survey thwarted packed kit. By good fortune took the green road above Fanore; encountered another cattle herd, and its owner; Michael Queally. Enquiring, he knew the owner of the land this souterrain is on, Michael Fitz, and supplied his phone number; a very approachable man, hooray. MQ’s pal, Pat McNamara, related potential sites that all need checking; an hour of great chat, invited to visit MQ’s place to view his ringfort, MQ also told PC of the new landowner of Pollapooka; who very likely, also owns Poulballyelly; he’s bought a lot of land.
11th November Considine’s Cave, (South End)
Cloud 100%: Wind W, F3: Rain: Ground awash. The Plan: see if shaft flooded. Steady rainfall, occasional heavy downpours throughout the night and all today. En-route, back to Doolin the landscape from Killinaboy was saturated, roads flooded in places; decided to check if the dig was flooded. Field awash; the stream near the stile was audible from twenty metres away. Opened upper and lower shaft covers, dropped stone into darkness, no splash. Illuminating the shaft, witnessed water streaming down the walls; a large cascade tumbling down the southern end. Thunderous noises from streams racing through the four inch pipework, which vibrated under the flow rate; puddles at the base of the shaft.
Hours 0 (2664), Southend (1614), Kibbles 0 (5252), Nets 0 (863), Total 6115
11th November Lost Bob Dakin
Bob joined the Pegasus in the early years of the 1960's and was a member of the 1962 and 1964 expeditions to The Gouffre Berger. He was 82. Bob played a great part in recording the early history of The Pegasus Club when he bought an 8mm cine camera, the results are present in many of the articles on this website. Thank you Bob and farewell my good friend.
The following was added to an email from Ian Curphey to myself, "I'm sure you are as sad as I am to hear that "Submarine Sam" has climbed his last electron ladder. We Berger men of old are getting thinner on the ground. We lived in fine times, we Pegasus folk."
22nd November Ringfort / Cashel CL008-020---
Cloud 60%: Wind w, F4/6. The plan was to inspect this ringfort for a souterrain; the weather had other plans. The ringfort is set within a significant field system. Managed to reach the edge of the concave cliff face, adjacent the site, as the rain arrived; took shelter from the torrent. Successive showers and high wind inhibited the search; need return.
27th November Caherbullog Townland
Contacted Michael Fitzpatrick, Senior, (MFS); enquiring as to who owned Caherbullog townland; explaining the aims of the souterrain project. MFS replied he was unable to grant permission as the land was in the process of being transferred to ownership of his son Michael, (MFY). PC left drawings of the souterrain and enclosure of Lisnanroum to illustrate the project’s aims. MFY rang PC at 16:00: a lengthy discussion took place. MFY voiced his avid interest of archaeological features contained throughout the land; further explained the finding of Pollantobar, (Tober an athar chalbhaigh). The land they now own amounts to most northern end of Slieve Elba down into to the Caher Valley. Both agreed to meet Saturday; 17:00 MFY called to delay met to 11:00 Sunday.
29th November Souterrain CL004-016040, and area
Michael Fitzpatrick, (Younger), Ivor?
14:00. Wind W, F2: Ground wet: Mild: Dense fog above 100metres: Visibility thirty metres. The first actual meet with MFY after the phones calls and texts: very cordial. Taken on a circuitous route around numerous archaeological features; asked to identify same. Some were obvious, most admitted a guess. Among them a substantial wall, some 1.1 – 1.2m m thick; defensive in appearance and location. Semi-circular, of a long radius; in parts seeming almost straight; perhaps some one hundred and fifty metres long, by a hundred in depth: measurements guestimated owing to fog. The visited the souterrain; MFY was unaware of the small entrance opening inside sub-square ringfort enclosure. Explained what is known of souterrains; talk turned to caves, and caving. Learnt it was the previous landowner who arranged the boulder to block the entrance of Poulaphuca owing to loss of cattle. Worth noting, many of the small sinks near the northern area of Poulnagollum, toward Tober an athar chalbhaigh have been filled with stone to prevent further loose of cattle; two beasts are lost annually, (total value ≈4000 euro). Back at the trucks, exchanged goodbyes; MFY granted permission to PC to wander whenever and wherever the fancy took him. Talk of caves and fencing them off, MFY related of a hole east of the track. Now dark he offered show PC another time; also offering to help carry the surveying kit and assist generally. He is a good soul, eager to learn. MFY then asked of Poulaphuca, its dimensions etc. PC waxed lyrical of its potential. MFY is without doubt a very nice person, an amenable individual eager to know what exists in and beneath the landscape, just what the thousands of lumps and bumps are, or indeed indicate. Spoke of the dig at Considines, work conducted and depth achieved, he was fascinated; interested. Will ask if he fancies a caving trip, and, perhaps come digging.
30th November Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC, JW and PC
Fog, base at 120m: Wind SW, F0/1: Visibility 100m: Ground wet: Medium stream: The Plan: Dig. JW working in Doolin; took advantage of the situation, within lockdown constraints. CC winching: JW unloading and barrowing: PC digging. Descending PC was impressed at the depth achieved by KLD, from which a rib of rock has emerged from the east side. This rib creates a shaft some one metre diameter, separating the ladder route from the main shaft; access between the two is through the “Door”, a gap 0.4m wide: the centre of the “Door” is all but the centre of the hauling. Started to clear spoil from around the “Door” into the main area; continued across the floor between hauling to the south rift opening. Sent up a 90kg boulder previously exposed by KLD adjacent the ladder way. The spoil in the southern rift now has a vertical face, about a metre high. Removed a large egg shaped boulder at the entrance of the developing eastern rift; exposing its north side, which appears to mimic other joint developments on this side of the shaft, by gently curving under toward the north; so appears to be widening. The walls adjacent and opposite the east rift were bone dry: no draught felt at the time. The mild weather and damp seem to affect the winch mechanism, it struggling with some of the heavier kibbles, which were well packed, and filled. Generator ½ full: no fuel on site. Lifelining conducted using an Italian Hitch, as PC forgot to bring along the appropriate descender.
Errata, Stats one item short, not added correctly on the 21st Oct. The Covid-19, Level 5, restrictions alter 1st December; travel permitted throughout the county.
Hours 7 (2671), Southend (1621), Kibbles 18 (5270), Nets 5 (868), Total 6138
3rd December Considine’s Cave, (South End)
Kate Lavender-Duncan, Cheg Chester
18:00. Frost forming: Visibility >35Nm: Cloud 10%: Wind NW, F2: Ground sodden: Medium stream: The Plan: Dig. CC winching: KLD digging: PC unloading/barrowing. Removed the cover from the winch to identify the source of the curious intermittent knocking noise noted on the 30th Nov. KLD descended and began sending up previously filled kibbles, whilst continuing to clear spoil from the south rift and levelling the base of the shaft. An enthusiastic net of boulders caused the generator to cough as it supplied power to the winch, when the load was only four metres from the top. Rather than send it back down for partial emptying it was helped to surface by PC assisting the hauling line. Of the twenty five lifts, one was the net ≈130kgs; the kibbles, a mixture of boulders, cobbles and awful clays. Generator ¼ full: no fuel on site. Water supply to cisterns requires attention. Total weight removed from the south end is a very conservative 246.5 tonnes.
NB. The rib of rock emerging from the east wall raises concerns regarding the future use of the present hauling route. Perhaps one solution is to erect an “A” frame extension to the tripod of scaffold tube, positioned above the southern end of the rift; the hauling way then aligned between the RSJ at -12m and the southern wall. If this were deployed issues of replacing the suspect pallet, which requires the dismantling of the entire shaft collar would not be quite such a time consuming undertaking. The present hauling way/shaft collar could have the intended entrance frame installed, which for the remaining life of the dig could act as the route to the fixed ladder. Tomorrow the gastro-pubs and restaurants open; awaiting the third wave of the Lurgi to arrive.
Hours 7 (2678), Southend (1628), Kibbles 24 (5294), Nets 1 (869), Total lifts 6163
9th December Considine’s Cave, (South End)
Another very wet day on the west coast. During the last digging session the winch was producing a range of clicking noises especially when tension was applied to the hauling rope as it comes off the capstan drum. On inspection it was found the V belt that connects directly with the Radicon Drive was slack and this caused the slight backlash in the drive to set up an oscillation. This belt was adjusted causing the belt from the motor to slacken. This was adjusted by repositioning the motor which then means the foot control needs adjusting. All this because of 3mm of slack! Generator topped up with 5 litres. Oil needs checking!
Hours 2 (2680), Southend (1630), Kibbles 0 (5294), Nets 0 (869), Total 6163
10th December Considine’s Cave, (South End)
KLD, CC, PC
Cloud base 150m: Wind W, F2/3: Visibility <20Nm: Ground water logged: Large stream: The Plan: Dig. KLD digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. KLD continued to lower the south end toward and into the southern rift; this floor level below that in the ladderway. Many boulders are large requiring the net, these are piled ready for removal; some will definitely need the 2:1 to lift out. Twenty five kibbles were raised; clay, gravels and boulders. Clays tipped, as agreed into Jonathon’s copse, gravels too. The smaller boulders and rocks used to round off the profile of main boulder pile. Water supply from the field tank needs cleaning, the flow reduced to both cisterns: pallets under the west side of winch shed need replacement: canopy weather proofing cover needs replacement. Generator ½ full: CC topped up fuel yesterday whilst servicing the winch, (2 hrs): PC brought a can of fuel tonight; also intend replacing the present lifeline with forty metres of 9mm Beal dynamic; ordered off Tony Seddon 11th Dec. So far this year some seventeen tonnes of kibbles were removed along with some four tonnes of nets; not bad considered the Covid-19 restrictions, reduced visits and available support.
Hours 7 (2687), Southend (1637), Kibbles 25 (5319), Nets 0 (869), Total lifts 6188
16th December Lost Marilyn Cobbett
23rd December Slieve Elva Mountain
Cloud 60%: Wind F6: Temp 4°C: Visibility >30Nm: Ground very wet. The Plan: to prospect the area between Poul an Phúca and Pollantobar. Pollantobar found by Milner, McDonald and Cronin, 17th April 1984. The area is wicked underfoot, obscured grykes abound; confirmed by regularly, inadvertently stepping into them; lucky, lucky, lucky. Cobbett’s suggestion of using a staff is proving sensible. Tried to locate Poul an Phúca; memory failing dismally. Wandering the wrong area encountered a small collapse, ITM 514513 x 705188, elevation 270 metres; in level ground, upstream, and south of Poulballyelly. One metre wide, and one and a half long, the fill has slid vertically down a narrow rift, some 0.4m wide. This opening has appeared in the centre of an area regularly grazed by cattle; it warrants covering: need contact MSY. Checked the exposed limestone walls of the dry valley for Poul an Phúca, still without luck; memory states the 25m shaft was entered just off the side of the valley. Did relocate the large, deep depression, (ITM 514575 x 705173), taken at the northeast side; a place that does want digging. Reviewing data found the map ref, in the new UBSS book, has a typing error putting Poul an Tobar 240m south of its actual position. When the sites are plotted it feels more likely the stream flows to the depression, to the WSW rather than Poul an Phuca.
24th December Slieve Elva Mountain
Bright: Cloud 10%; Wind NW F4: Cold: Visibility infinite. Ground wet. The Plan: to locate Poul an Phúca, Pollantobar, and prospect inbetween. Parked at the gate one hundred metres east of the junction on the green road. At the gate remembered that to locate Poul an Phúca was to walk toward the trig point for around hundred metres. Within minutes arrived at the pot. Reports that a huge boulder was used to plug the entrance are incorrect. Several large boulders have been positioned directly in front of the 25m open pitch as a barrier between it and adjacent grazing; entry is unhindered. The digger has also filled in most of the shallow depressions which suggest the stream route from Poul an Tobar: running water is audible. The Poul an Tobar entrance is now lost beneath a levelled, boggy area. The result of filling this depression is that in flood the stream issues forth from the many openings among the thin limestone covering the stream below. Therefore, votive offerings washed along the streamway below, from the Blessed Well are deposited on the surface; returned offerings to their place of pilgrimage.
Reflecting on how Poulnagollum has developed, the presence of Poul an Phúca, the large depression, and the adjacent depressions elevated to the southeast; surely it’s possible that this is the place to find the Master Cave for this side of the mountain? The Poul an Phúca map reference, in the UBSS new book places it some hundred metres to the northwest of its believed location, and some thirty five metres the other, wrong, side of the party wall; will return with GPSR to confirm.
Heading back met with Michael Queally, of Fan Oír, who once again invited PC to visit the ringfort behind his cottage; informed by MQ that Poulballyelly, and therefore the collapse, is on another’s land. Also encountered Christy O’Brien, the gentleman who when asked in the 1980s announced he certainly didn’t mind PC’s digging Poulnagrinn; the diggers later discovered he didn’t mind, because he didn’t own the land. Found much later, one of the gentlemen watching the diggers from the side of the depression was actually the owner, Gus Curtin, (RIP): a real gentleman. Delighted to chance upon Cheg and Aileen, walking the area adjacent Pouldubh.
26th December Slieve Elva Mountain
Storm Bella imminent: Wind SW, F8 gusting F9: Cloud 100%: Visibility >10Nm: Ground sodden. Driven rain like needles. The Plan; reconcile the Poul an Phúca map ref given in the Caves of Midwest Ireland. From the gate aimed for the “Trig Point”, actually a cairn, and counted a distance of 130m to the pot; its map reference is ITM 514718 x 705304. From the pot the valley was followed northeasterly, plotting a series of minor collapses; many filled with boulders: the landowner looses about two cattle a year. The blocked entrance to Poul an Tobar was plotted, as was the Blessed Well. From here the shale boundary was followed southwesterly, numerous minor sinks and sites were recorded. OP03 is a sink covered by the landowner; down through a gap the walking stick, (curtain pole), was inserted. Waving it around a passage at least 0.5m wide and over 1.5m deep was estimated. It may be possible to arrange access with the promise of a secure cover. Adjacent the boundary a narrow rift was found. Of particular significance is the group of sites, (MQ) on adjacent land, these have great promise; will request permission to access them from owner. A swift check in the Caves of Northwest Clare, does indicate most attention was given to the area below the limestone terraces that extend southwest from above Poulballyelly.
This line of sinks mimics those on the northeast side of the mountain; almost everything east of the Blessed Well collectively contributes to the development of Poulnagollum.
28th December Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC & PC
Cloud 40%: Storm Bella passing: Visibility >25Nm: Wind NW, F6: Cold: Small stream: Ground wet. The Plan: Maintenance. PC replaced the existing lifeline with forty metres of new 9mm dynamic; 9mm because of ease operations through the Petzl “Rig”. CC topped the generator oil. PC then descended to inspect beneath the pallets in the ladder approach; the 4x2 timber is fine: pallet really wants replacing. For the next while access to the ladder is via the gap under the east side of the working platform. The 4x2 timber supports rest directly on the bedrock; it may be possible to insert 50mm heavy duty scaffold poles into the gap, for further support. At the bottom of the shaft KLD has been busy, the floor was punctuated with boulders, resembling Dragons Teeth; these were extracted and piled for the next session, which will focus on clearing the pile. The crevice into the northern rift was hosed to wash away potential missile debris. Doing so exposed the calcite joint on which the shaft is formed; at this point, east and west sides have joined, there is no gap to the northern shaft. Depth measured to -21.85m, this matches the “Pinch” in the northern shaft, which begins at -22m. Of interest is northern shaft descends a further three metres, then headed off east down slope, to a turn sharp right, into a 0.1m immature gap, where the stream disappeared. Into the southeast rift three small, round stones were cast, each rattled for some two metres, silence, then a small echo, then another bit of rattling, conservative depth estimated as 5 to 6 metres. This suggests the depth of the shaft could be, at least -29m. The sides of the hauling way were examined, these continue down vertically. The feature forming as protrusions from the east and west sides, creating a small “middle” shaft may present future issues hauling, as the centre line of the haul is within the gap. Up top CC re-checked the area behind the winch shed for spoil deposition; removing a minor branch for wheel barrow access. Much talk on sorting minor issues, such as pallet replacement beneath the winch shed. Generator ½ full: fuel on site.
Hours 4 (2689), Southend (1639), Kibbles 0 (5319), Nets 0 (869), Total lifts 6188
31st December Slieve Elva Mountain
Last trip of the Year: Temp -1°C: Visibility infinite: Cloud 60%: Ground Thawing: Roads very icy: Issues experienced ascending the icy mountain road. The Plan: explore recent finds; MQ1 – MQ6. A check of the recent UBSS book, (p95), indicates no sites in this area. Met at Faunarooska Cross; walked to the area along the green road. Delighted to meet John and Breda Casey, driving cattle from Ballynalacken to the Caher Valley; what the green road was originally used for. Enquired of JC ownership of land adjacent his own and his cousins, located southeast of Poulnagollum, where a souterrain is recorded.
MQ1. The grass and briar foliage was pulled back revealing a drop of a metre onto a gravel/clay floor into which the small stream sank. Here is a low chamber some two metres diameter. Most of the roof is a large slab of limestone with no visible means of support to three of its four sides. The way on is a narrow, immature joint: little potential.
MQ2. Again the grass and briars were dragged back revealing a vertical drop, one and a half metres deep; all solid, and water worn. At the bottom, a 0.15m bedding heads west; a small area of water worn floor appears solid: little potential.
MQ3. Yet again grass parted, dropping another metre and a half, into another immature, active sink: would repay digging.
MQ4. Breached the foliage accessing a short drop and a narrow rift; would repay digging.
Exiting CC presented a wet, frozen PC to a large mug of hot tea and a chunk of drizzle cake; superb.
MQ5. Did not enter the dense foliage filling this depression; to do so would create a corridor along which inquisitive cattle are likely to explore. Intend to return with cutters and descend the hillside from the east.
MQ6. Secured a handline, descended the steep slope to a recent collapse of clay/soil, either side are limestone walls: would repay digging.
Cloud cleared, descended hillside via the large depression, and Poulballyelly entrance. Taking the green road back to the motors; encountered a lost guide and her party. In answer to her enquiry, orientated the page of her walking guide to correct reality: page printed as South Up? Thoughts strayed to an absent Boycott, and other missing pals.