2021

January to March

1st January     Slieve Elva Mountain

   

PC

First trip of the year: Cloud 75%: Wind NW, F2: Cold: Visibility >35Nm: Ground sodden. The Plan: Reconcile actual location of Faunarooska to MQ6. Suspecting difficult walking conditions, took no rucksack, just the staff, (curtain pole). Began walk from the first gate on the green road. Ground conditions awful; slow progress across knee deep heather and bog. Encountered many small depressions filled with limestone boulders; continued to the shale boundary. Identified Faunarooska by a bit of caver’s rope attached to the barb wire closing the fence near its entrance. Worked north encountering lots of minor boggy depressions along the shale – limestone boundary; some three hundred metres north located another hole, (MQ7). The opening is some two metres deep with the sound of a small stream; little rain recently. This site requires a rope to accurately check its true potential: creeping toward the tantalizing opening, across the soft floored surface, the heart raced a little when a foot disappeared through the grass onto nothing solid below. Reed stems are surprizingly strong; retrieved foot: cautiously retreated. Much of this area, beyond an electric fence line is un-grazed. This means the heather, grasses and sphagnum moss have become a rich, regular, knee deep pile carpet. Pressed on and located MQ6, some hundred metres further on. Returned to MQ7, orientated self and headed downhill, to check a small hazel filled depression; no opening but could repay digging. Another depression was found further west, all aligned on a bearing of 080° / 260° magnetic, over a distance of perhaps, three hundred metres. Found yet another depression some two hundred metres west-ish of Faunarooska; fifteen metres diameter and seven metres deep: possible opening in the base of its east side: will return with GPSR to record these sites and Pollballiny. On the way in could not locate Hawthorn Swallet, perhaps filled in?

Pat Cronin

3rd January     Slieve Elva Mountain

 

PC

14:00. Cloud 5%: Wind N, F2: Temp -1°C: Ground frozen: The plan: accurately GPS sinks feeding Faunarooska, to confirm recently recorded sites as being “unconnected”.

Used the Garmin Oregon 300, calibrated it and took a reading of the first stile along the green road to check accuracy against the digital imagery of Archaeology.ie; established as reading two metres less eastward. Headed back to Faunarooska, GPS’d the entrance then worked north; during the process discovered another possible hole, found and accurately recorded MQ7, previously, without a GPS, (2nd Jan), needed to guesstimate its position; human error was eight metres east and five metres north. Returned to the Hilux by way of Poulballyelly; recording a different position some seven metres further east and three metres south, placing it correctly in the narrow, dry gully and not on the adjacent ridge. Took the coast road to avoid ice issues up the mountain road from Kilmoon; big mistake. Sheltered sections of the road, particularly between the coast and Ballynalacken castle were a death trap; stopped bus at Ballynalacken to warn of road conditions. Stopped, and asked to recover a bent car from a ditch and convey the four passengers to Lisdoonvarna; each miffed when informed the only seats available in this Covid climate was the tailgate.

Pat Cronin

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4th January     One year since we lost Simon Halliday

Today a memorial walk was completed on one of his favourite runs around Pendle Hill, finishing wilh a celebratory bottle of beer on the fell. Given Covid and local restrictions, the team was small consisting of Paula and Adam Milligan, Mick Lee and Ceily Sudell.

Barry Sudell

6th January     Slieve Elva Mountain

CC & PC

Cold: Wind O. Sea, a mirror: Ground frozen: -5°C last night: Sections of road remain icy: The Plan: continue checking the newly recorded sites. The un-numbered hole, adjacent MQ4 was checked first; it’s a partly filled rift which appears to be on the same joint as MQ4. It is slowly opening by subsidence of the loose humic material fill. South of MQ4 delightedly experienced a phenomenon never before witnessed in Ireland, or the UK; a column of condensation rising three metres vertically from an undescended rift among dense foliage. Realized the condensation was only visible when viewed with the sun behind the column. Swiftly deployed a ladder secured to a fence post of unknown heritage; held on with one hand whilst thrashing through the undergrowth with the other. The rift is some three metres deep, three long and three quarters of a metre wide. No obvious evidence of a significant stream sinking. Broke off the branches of a dead tree to complete descent; the floor is a mixture of degrading shale, a greasy, sticky grey clay. Several pieces of sandstone are present. A gap to the west side of the floor was dug out; exposing a 225mm wide rift heading west-ish, after almost two metres it assumes two metres of depth and turns left. The right hand, (north), wall is solid, with a shallow sculpted stream gully. The south wall consists, from the top down, of a large boulder, seemingly entirely detached, sitting upon bedrock formed with deep vertical fluting. From here, assessed the rift width increases at -2m. It would be awkward, but possible, to remove the protruding bits on the left wall to reach the vertical section, and see what around the left hand bend. Heading back to the trucks checked the depression west of Faunarooska. A small conical collapse was found in the base, on the east side, with several items of domestic debris. A cracking day; delighted: if only the bar was open.

Pat Cronin

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The column of condensation rising from the rift south of MQ4 is shown refracting the sunlight onto the foliage in the forground.

8th January     Ballyhagline, Doolin

 

PC

After departing the Rescue Station scampered along the coast to check the status of the survey baseline installed by PC some years ago, from which to establish the positions of any Mesolithic finds. Surprized at the extent of  storm damage; ten metres of the foreshore is swept clean along to the River Aille, which still flows through the huge storm debris ridge. It is possible to walk from the car park to the river on solid rock. Much of the limestone terrace close to the shore is broken apart and appears to have contributed to the huge amount of storm debris mounted up against the sand dunes, running parallel to the ocean. The only survey disc found was an intermediate datum, secured to the large rectangular, ten tonne limestone boulder, near the base of the ten metre sand dunes. The base line appears decimated. Some seventy metres east of the huge boulder is a small exposure of clay; this clay deposit is what the Mesolithic remains were found within. Michael Lynch informed of this new clay exposure.

Pat Cronin

9th January     Souterrain CL004-016040

 

PC

13:00.   Bitterly cold: Wind SW, F4: Visibility >30Nm: Ground thawing.  The Plan: establish depth of ground above the souterrain roof lintels to complete the profile - section survey. Significant areas remain frozen in the lee of Sliabh Eilbh. Excruciating wind chill encouraged speed of project. Replicated the souterrain passage route over the surface using fifty metre tape measure and compass; the single change in direction of the passage from 155° to 183°; indicated with a peg. The surface profile and underground survey based from the datum in the garth entrance. Erected the new toy; a Leica L2P5G laser level, securing the receiver to the survey staff. With this new equipment the ground profile was delightfully swift and accurate; very welcome in such desperate conditions. The breach or collapsed area of the souterrain is clearly surrounded by a feature, which abuts the Cashel rampart wall. It is likely to be a hut dwelling, however only excavation will answer the jumble of stones. It does appear possible that the souterrain passage once extended northward, beneath this walled feature, below and beyond the perimeter wall.

Pat Cronin

10th January     Halliday's Hole, MQ4

 

CC and PC

Cloud base 200m: Visibility 300m: Wind SW, F3: Light showers: The plan: push MQ4. Laden with Hilti drill, ladder and a pile of kit the team walked in from Faunarooska Cross. While PC laddered, and descended the five/six metre pot to prepare the offending boulder, CC assembled his equipment. After the application of Dr. Chester’s, Wonder Boulder Eraser, entry was gained into the visible, confined area. Immediately beyond a sharp right hand bend turns south, through a gap of 250mm. Some three metres on, a nicely sculpted chamber is entered, with a bright Iron stained flowstone deposit; Nice.  Four metres diameter – perhaps five high, its broken roof appears to be, oh so close to the surface. Another rift heads north for about three metres to a 1.5m step, beyond the rift tapers, horizontally to nothing over five - six metres; the stream sinks on, or about the short step. Surveying will allow closer examination of the potential to dig the point where stream sinks.

 

Simon was lost to Lancaster Hole a year ago; PC respectfully names this modest find as Halliday’s Hole.

 

Halliday’s Hole is not the cave from whence the sustained column of condensation was seen erupting, this  site is located to the southwest. Digging WILL commence shortly.

The image indicates that a significant amount of water drains off the north-western flank of Sliabh Eilbh,  indicated by a network of deep channels.

This heads toward the area of MQ6, MQ7 and MQ11.

MQ's 7 and 11 both need checking, as these channels appear to drain straight toward their area.

Pat Cronin

10th Jan 2021.JPG

12th January     Lost Bob Proctor

16th January     Slieve Elva Mountain

PC

Cloud 90%: Wind W/NW F4: Cold: Visibility >25Nm: Ground sodden: The Plan: check sites MQ7 and MQ11. Found MQ6, identified by its circumferential, elderly fence, on an elevated area. The AA cells purchased earlier today were useless when asked to work the GPS; a real pain as the area is without surface features to relate to, so a GPS is needed to “sort” each site among the numerous depressions. Believed found MQ11; after much tentative stepping through deep foliage found a sizable collapse taking a good stream; rained last night, but no passage. Crept gingerly across to the other side of the depression, finding a very small collapse; the stream here noted running toward the first seen collapse. Inching forward found another, hidden under a curtain of reeds; one metre diameter. Possible to see the cavity extended under the obvious perimeter of the opening. Set up the ladder, climbed down into a two metre deep pot taking a good sized stream. Solid limestone has a humic overburden of one metre thick. The base may repay digging, but the sides will require support; it has the appearance of the top of a pot. Believe MQ7 was found next; the stream sank into the obvious collapse; no passage. Moved around the perimeter of the depression to reach a specific area, without success; foliage is chest deep in places, with suspect footing. Will return to this spot; next time approaching from the southeast. After two hours struggling among the awful ground cover had had enough; en-route to the truck encountered Jim Warny, post his Pouldubh trip. Enjoyed a half hour catching up on things; two metres apart.

Pat Cronin

21st January     Slieve Elva Mountain

 

JW, PC

Cold: Wind W, F3: Visibility >25Nm: Showers: Ground sodden. The Plan: reconcile ID’s of recent sites with new GPSR recordings. Met JW at Faunarooska Cross, 10:00; walked to Poul an Phúca. From here took JW through the potential of the project area. Four hours of thrashing about resolved so many conflicting memory issues, and found several other sites. The result of working south from Poul an Phúca, writing up each site; now knowing that there are so many of them. Is the relocation and identification of holes lost amidst the overwhelming volume of data; operator error without doubt: no note book. Checked a shakehole in the area below the 270m cliff edge, to confirm suspicions of a convergence of two drainage routes, (MQLA); the site is of interest, well worth digging; after permissions. NE from this site shake holes confirm an active route of drainage feeding it. Almost every MF referenced site is a hole partly covered with large boulders. Stopped todays southern progress at MQ99; believed to be Faunarooska 6. Delighted to have a fine result from sorting the data chaos; now have three open entrances to explore.

Pat Cronin

23rd January     Considine’s Cave, (South End)

 

PC

Cold: Ground frozen/thawing – sodden. Cloud 100%: Visibility ≤20Nm: Wind NW, F2: Snow on the Mountains of Connemara: Large stream: The Plan: create an alternate route to the fixed ladder. Use of the normal route to the ladder is has ceased; the integrity of the pallet is increasingly suspect. A new route was excavated around, and beneath the east side of the working platform. Digging out the stiff clay, riven with roots warmed the digger; the clay was dug down to the water worn, undulating bedrock. This task may indirectly assist with future installation of a permanent entrance lid, and installation of the proposed scaffold grill, even replacing the dodgy pallet, as room to access the area is now improved. Today produced twelve kibbles of clay, manhandled up into the barrow, and deposited at the far end of the spoil area. Ten of the twenty scaffold clips were left there, all prepared with a coat of Hammerite; the 3.5 metre length of tube will do as the west side support of the frame, the two lengths on site will do the longer central spans. An Taoiseach suggests Covid restrictions remain until the end of February, early March. 

Hours 3 (2692), Southend (1642), Kibbles 12 (5331), Nets 0 (869), Total lifts 6201

Pat Cronin

25th January     Slieve Elva Mountain

 

JW, PC

Cold: Cloud 70%: Wind SE, F4: Snow, 70mm: Ground frozen/thawing: Visibility>25Nm: The Plan; identify the sinks suspected to be F5 and F6. Met at Faunarooska Cross; 13:00. No map reference seems available for the sinks in question. Using data from the UBSS QGIS project combined with Archaeology.ie digital imagery, PC plotted the limits of both passages heading toward either sink; both passages described as impassable beddings. F4 is adjacent a wall corner, this was thought best from where to orientate the survey. However, among the terrain this obvious shake hole, with extant domestic debris, though initially identified as F4, later found to be incorrect. Along the shale margin are far more sinks than those recorded potentially relating to Faunarooska. So the team started at F1 to GPS the main entrance, from which to start the survey. Fissures and shake holes south from F1 illustrate Faunarooska’s initial shallow route. The image shows most of the sites recorded in this section of the project, as of today. The group of sinks MQ42 – 45 may drain to those shake holes indicated on the lower area; the orange icons. Much more work is required, not least entering the open sinks. Clearing snow, PC stood on a dodgy belay as JW laddered down MQ99 into a clean washed, choked rift; has potential. More work required. In plummeting temperatures and darkening skies returned to the trucks.

Pat Cronin

25 Jan 2021.JPG

Project area showing identified sites and further new finds. The groupings MQLA are on the lower area, below the small limestone cliff face. These are sinks and shake holes. Only a small amount of this lower area has been covered. The two blue F4’s are in fact shake holes; F4 being quite large. The two ends of the passages heading towards F5 and F6 are plotted in an attempt to identify their sinks. F6 appears to be some ten, perhaps fifteen metres above the shale boundary; a group of bushes suggest a sink present. The red icon “F??” is in fact F4.

27th January     Considine’s Cave, (South End)

 

PC

Cloud base 80m: Visibility 300m: Wind SW, F1: Ground Sodden: Large stream: The Plan: erect the grill over the North End shaft, (-25.5m deep). Eventually managed to manoeuvre - thread the 3.5m galvanized scaffold beneath the working platform. With this western horizontal support in place the two previously delivered two metre scaffold lengths were inserted into prepared holes, in the eastern overburden. Both rest securely upon bedrock they were secured to the western tube. To complete this “grill” will require another twelve, perhaps fifteen metres of heavy duty tubing. Back at the truck bumped into CC arriving to check correct operation of generator and winch. Discussing the extant travel restrictions; PC suggesting that during this period of “Down” time several major maintenance task could be accomplished, reducing future loss of digging time. 

Pat Cronin

Equipment check. Generator started 2nd pull but the RCD (residual circuit breaker) would not stay on. Unplugged the external bulkhead lamp and the underground lamp and all was OK. Ran the winch for about ten minutes then plugged in the external bulkhead lamp, still OK. I assume the fault is with the UG lamp but did not plug it in. I am surprised that anything worked at all given that everything is just wringing with condensation.

Cheg Chester

Hours 2 (2694), Southend (1644), Kibbles 0 (5331), Nets 0 (869), Total lifts 6201

3rd February     The funeral of Bob Proctor

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Proctor 5.JPG
Proctor 4.JPG

5th February     Slieve Elva Mountain

 

PC

Cloud 60%: Wind W, F3/4: Visibility >25Nm: Ground awash. The Plan: resume search for Poul an Phúca II, and perhaps A1e. Programmed GPS with ITM’s from Cave of Mid-West Ireland. Navigated to area previously prospected: no sink or site present. Checked the area north of the wall to the shallow valley where Poulballyelly is located; no luck. Moved south, beyond the wall; conducted a parallel search using the wall as reference. Found a small sink in a wet area; one metre deep, one metre diameter with steep sides. Though potentially Poul an Phúca II, it does not fit the book description. Being 375m southwest of Poul an Phúca III; twice that described. It is not a large depression; it’s a sink on a small level area in the slope. But, it is in alignment with Poulballyelly and A1e. More work required to ascertain identity. Moved on to A1e, using UBSS data located an area, which may have been “landscaped”; difficult to say. Headed south, up slope, from A1e, found an active sink, in rough pasture, under a small bush, fifty metres north of Goat Hole and fifteen metres south of the area of A1e. Preparing list of recorded ITM’s.

Pat Cronin

10th February     Slieve Elva Mountain

 

PC

Bitter cold: Cloud 60%: Wind NE, F4/6: Visibility >35Nm: Ground frozen. The Plan: to explore vertical opening MQ03. Walked in from Faunarooska Cross; ascending the hill opted to return to the truck, prospecting the area west of the site found 5th February, this depression potentially being Poul an Phúca II. At MQ03, attempting to push the nail bar belay into the normally soft ground encountered rock 150mm beneath the surface. Treated nail bar like tent peg, inserting it at a shallow angle pointing toward the hole. Laddered three metres into a clean washed, one metre diameter cavity, with a floor of boulders; a strong draught issued from western bedding. Monitored draught suspending dried grass in the bedding; during ten minutes the draught remained constant. Outside the NE wind maintained F4 gusting F5, this did not appear to affect the draught; no vapour seen. Recovering kit and visited sink MQ05; poor sunlight did not help display the column of vapour photographed 6th January; none visible today. Descending the hillside west of the site, which may turn out to be Poul an Phúca II. Encountered a narrow rift like depression, invisible from ten metres away; no stream. Its floor is of soft organic material. Exposed a small gap, which emitted a possible draught; difficult to be sure as the site faces into todays wind direction. Without a GPS took bearings off the corner of a wall and to the sink, (potentially), Poul an Phúca II. From these bearings developed a map reference, which needs confirming with a GPSR. Admiring the view, delighted to receive a phone call from a pal, previously asked if he knew of pipe suitable for replacing the shaft collar at Considine’s. He’d already checked one place, and was visiting another tomorrow. Pipe size requested, 0.75m/0.9m internal diameter by 1.5 metres long. An Taoiseach suggesting Level 5 restrictions may extend beyond Easter.

Observations on the location of Poul an Phúca II.

 

The location of Poul an Phúca II entrance is described as being within a large depression, 200 metres southwest of Poul an Phúca III. Poul an Phúca III is an obvious reference to use; on high ground, adjacent the western route of the drovers track. It is one of the few easily locatable references in a featureless landscape. The description further relates Poul an Phúca II’s stream is next seen in Poulballyelly, though not where it appears inside the cave; suggesting work has been done to reconcile the hydrology; so these locations were well known at that time. Unfortunately the survey of Poulballyelly does not show where Poul an Phúca II stream enters; entering from either west or east. If it had done so then locating Poul an Phúca II would perhaps be a little easier.

The sink, A1e is fifty metres east of Poulballyelly, and may also contribute to its stream. A1e is fifty metres downstream, (north), of the large depression that is Goat Hole; at an elevation all but level with Poulballyelly entrance. Goat Hole is seventy metres up slope from Poulballyelly. Recent visits found another sink near the published ITM for A1e.

 

The ongoing search for Poul an Phúca II initially involved investigating its published ITM, visited on an elevated area south west of Poulballyelly; no depression or evidence of cave is present. A small active sink was found, (31st January 2021), thirty metres SSE of this incorrect ITM position. A recently found depression, (10th Feb 2021), is seventy metres from the incorrect ITM position.  


The area in which Poul an Phúca II is most likely located is as described in print; the incorrect ITM, simply a slip of the keyboard. Two hundred metres southwest of Poul an Phúca III puts it near the end of a broad, shallow, sodden channel. With the present stunted vegetation there appears to have been some “earth work” taken place. If so, there appears no reason for it; other than perhaps to fill in cave entrances. Virtually all these sites are on land owned by a third party, who has not been known to fill in holes. This is not the same farmer as those to the south, or the northeast.

Pat Cronin
 

14th February     Scailp na Struthar

 

PC

ITM 508533 x 701504

Cool: Wind WSW, F8/9: Visibility <10Nm: Ground wet: The Plan: following the previous six days of rough sea swell, wanted to see the affects on this dig. Decided to check the stone ringfort located some two kilometres south, beyond the huge storm beach. Walked in from Poulsallagh; sea conditions severe; wave height >8 metres. At the dig found that three metres south of the vertical entrance, a cavity has formed. It is possible to look into a narrow gap between the rift wall and a large boulder. It has been washed out by the sea from below. This gap was not there during previous excavations. Though the main rift has had rocks etc. washed into it, both short shafts dug by PC are open below protective caps. Headed on to the Cashel; a curious though substantial construction. Now semi-circular in shape, its missing east half is likely been used as material for the substantial, adjacent boundary wall. PCN need revisit this dig, it may become another Otter Hole; but a little more lethal.

Pat Cronin

17th February     Slieve Elva Project

 

PC

Cloud 70%: Wind S/SW, F3/4: Visibility <25Nm: Ground sodden: The Plan: reconcile ITM of published locations near Faunarooska Cross. Unavoidable delay meant a short trip, so focused on locating Hawthorn Swallet, (the one near Pollballiny). It is shown with two map reference locations. Programmed the GPSR with the ITM from the Caves of Mid-West Ireland; memory advised a hawthorn tree as the signpost among the moorland, not far from a wall. En-route found two sinks, likely draining into Faunarooska; this needs confirming. Both close to the southern wall, the larger has two mature, (15m) trees growing from it. Several other smaller sinks were noted; all filled with limestone boulders; this would need a digger to accomplish: no signs of disturbance from tracked or large wheel machines. Arrived at the programmed ITM; a promising area. A shallow gulley draining to the NW, within several areas exhibited exposures of bare earth and out of character, lumps of limestone scattered about? Could not locate Hawthorn Swallet; again memory hinted it was visible over the wall to the north when walking to Faunarooska. As rain arrived searched northwest along the south side of the wall, from the SE end of the field, a corridor fifty metres wide; no tree, no depression, nothing. Began another search fifty metres to one hundred metres out from the wall, returning southeast; found an elongated depression about a hundred metres NW of the initial Hawthorn map ref; some five metres deep by ten metres long and five metres wide.  No entrance in its sodden base. As rain escaped through the laces holes, headed back to the truck. Must try harder. 

Pat Cronin

17th Feb 21.JPG

18th February     Two Tree Sink, Slieve Elva Project

 

PC

Cold: Cloud 70%: Showers: Visibility <20Nm: Wind S, F3/4: Ground awash: The Plan: double check ITM for Two Tree Sink. Most of the wet ground traversed yesterday now submerged. Arrived at the sink, took ITM and swam back to the truck. Compared the ITM with the UBSS QGIS cave survey software; Two Tree Sink appears to be within five metres, (horizontally), of the Faunarooska streamway.

Pat Cronin

18th Feb 21.JPG

21st February     Ballynahown – A201 – A202

PC
Cloud 10%: Cold: Wind S/SE, F2/3: Ground wet: Visibility <20Nm: The Plan: combine a walk with locating caves A201 and A202. Dropped by Pauline at 10:30, near Poulnagrai; recorded its ITM. Ambled along the Drover’s road approaching Christy O’Brien’s place headed west.  Crossing the field found a collapse; the sodden sloping ground converges at this depression. It warrants installation of a large pipe to save it as a future dig site. En-route to A201 & A202 encountered a cluster of dolines, ranging in diameter from ten to forty metres. Their level, deep soil centres suggest use as Haggards, (small vegetable gardens). A necessary facility, as this elevated area is exposed to bad weather from the East around to the Northwest. Using its published ITM arrived in the general area of A201, soon found same. Began search for A202, en-route, some thirty five metres south of A201, found a partly back filled hole in the same terrace. The area indicated by the ITM for A202 was thoroughly searched without success; thoughts turned to the back filled hole, is this A202? None of the terraces searched in its recorded area has anything remotely suggesting a cave entrance. Scrambled across to get opposite the cliff to see if A202 was actually in the cliff face; nothing visible. Descended the steep drover track to locate a known resurgence; found same, significant flow issuing. Wandered beneath the foliage canopy, an enchanting dappled area; half expected a Hobbit to suddenly appear. Followed the sound of water; locating six other resurgences, each emerging from beneath the huge debris field which extends beyond the base of the cliffs. After amalgamating the streams chatter along the surface for only a short distance then disappear into a sink. Headed out onto the pastureland, (recorded a sink), previously investigated with Cheg the 2nd November 2011; during which recorded seven sites in this area, including the now abandoned dig. Believe it was the Clare Caving Club, who was digging it, little enough spoil is visible. Reached the Promontory Fort at 13:25; previously visited with Roger Day, 5th June 2019. Set up the Kelly Kettle in the lee of an Erratic; drank the tea reflecting on all those dolines: picked up by Pauline from Poulsallagh Bay.

Pat Cronin

21st Feb 21-1.JPG
21st Feb 21-2.JPG

22nd February     We lost Frank Williams

24th February     Souterrain CL004-016040, Caherbullog

PC

Cool: Cloud 100%: Wind S/SE, F4: Heavy showers: Ground sodden: Visibility<15Nm: The Plan: resurvey the entrance passage. Parked up at Faunarooska Cross; took an hour to walk in. The passage from the centre of the ringfort to the souterrain chamber had been previously surveyed. Yet, when drawn, the arrangement of the limestone roof lintels did not work, they could not be reconciled with the length of the passage nor the point where the entrance passage enters the chamber; something very wrong, most likely the operator. Set up a datum in the entrance, secured a tape as centre line, fixing the other end central of the large lintel at the opening onto the chamber. The constricted nature of the passage likely contributes to the incorrect measurements. To improve accuracy on this visit, made a 400mm sided right angle triangle from a plastic election poster; applying this along the centre line, and a plumb line suspected from each roof lintel joint, precisely recorded each lintel’s joint position directly to its distance from the datum on the centre line. This immediately illustrated the lintel angle in relation to irregular line of the entrance passage. Application of this triangle found the first lintel projecting forward of the datum by 200mm; this had not been previously noted as the authors head was confined in the small gap between roof and floor, the measuring conducted at arms length. This 200mm error does not to continue throughout the length of the entrance passage, though the width of each roof lintel is not as uniform as first assessed. Continued to survey each lintel in turn; left and right of the centre line. The triangle needs  minor additions to improve ease of its deployment in such confined conditions; a sequence of parallel lines on each of its sides would allow  ease of its alignment up against the fixed centre line. Though time consuming, this survey feels more representative: delighted. Outside to a watery sun; rain fell as the tea brewed: forty five minutes back to the truck. Initial sketches  show the triangle works well. Hooray!

Pat Cronin

26th February     Considine’s Cave, (South End)

CC & PC

Cool: Cloud 10%: Wind W/SW, F2: Visibility <20Nm: Medium stream: Ground sodden: The Plan; maintenance.  Arrived early, carried over one length of scaffold tube, tools and various bits on to replace the two dodgy floor pallets on the west side of the winch shed. With the arrival of CC completed replacement of both pallets. CC then ran the generator and checked the winch; found an issue, which CC resolved with the application of engineers logic, and a lump hammer. Having destroyed the dodgy pallets to remove them,  the power line feeding the underground lighting, needed redirecting so lifted a previously laid pallet to accomplish task. Whilst the northern shaft was exposed, took the opportunity to install three more two metre lengths of scaffolding; the grill is looking impressive, and more to the point increasingly safe for the farmer. Generator 1/3rd full: Totals includes CC’s maintenance hour of the 27th Jan.

Hours 7 (2704), Southend (1654), Kibbles 0 (5331), Nets 0 (869), Total lifts 6201

Pat Cronin

1st March     Considine’s Cave, (South End)

 

CC & PC

Cloud 5%: Wind ESE F2: Small stream: Visibility >25Nm: The Plan: Maintenance. The stable weather allowed a new cover of heavy gauge plastic to be fitted over the existing, deteriorating weather canopy; the winch area will now be much drier. Noted the weather canopy around the tripod is also deteriorating, this will need replacement sometime soon.  There is an allusion by An Taoiseach that travel restrictions within the county may be eased to beyond the present 5k limit, subject to decreasing Covid-19 numbers. This may mean a return to actual digging; meanwhile will press on the maintenance. Generator 1/3rd full. March 4th will be the first anniversary of the first recorded death in the Republic.

Hours 6 (2710), Southend (1664), Kibbles 0 (5331), Nets 0 (869), Total lifts 6201

Pat Cronin

3rd March     CL004-016040 Souterrain, Caherbullog

 

PC

Cold: Cloud base 120m, (400ft): Wind NE, F1: Ground drying: Visibility twenty metres.

The Plan: to continue surveying the souterrain roof lintels. Left the Hilux at Poul an Phúca III; the wide bit so driven cattle, and tractors could pass. Managed to find the field gate as the drovers track turns south. Followed the track to the lower field, marked by the western boundary wall of Caherbullog townland; turned north. Visibility laughable; after forty minutes walking encountered a townland wall not normally reached. Believed too far north by maybe five hundred metres. Checked the GPSR to program “Go To”, realized the souterrains ITM was recorded in the other GPSR; bugger.  Turned on the telephone to access Google maps; no cover. Visibility remained twenty metres. From the northern townland wall zigzagged southward; stumbled over the ringfort after a further hours search: delight. Set up the GPSR suspended on the staff in the Ringfort entrance, left it for the duration. Took two hours to precisely record the locations of the roof lintels back to the base line tape; surveying this particular souterrain is becoming an endurance test. After two hours the roof lintel survey was finally completed, for the second time. The reproduction of the data as a drawing should now work. Exited into fog; made tea, huddled in the depression of the souterrains collapse; reached for sandwich, tea cup on the flat topped boulder fell over; disgusted. Packed up kit; headed back, no sun, no Tea.

Pat Cronin

6th March     CL004-016040 Souterrain, Caherbullog

 

PC

Cloud 30%: Wind SE, F4: Ground drying: Visibility 20Nm: The Plan: resurvey passage dimensions. Left Hilux at the junction of the drover’s road; walk took less than thirty minutes. Set up the laser level to project some 90mm below the lowest lintel to the entrance, establishing equal height datums from the entrance, via the junction of the passages to the edge of the collapse; installed a tape between each datum. Had decided to measure the passage cross section at each roof lintel joint, (left, right, up, down); took the opportunity to record the curious triangular recess on the east side at the passage junction. The west side has well chosen boulders purposefully positioned to support the low lintel. This will require a specific set up to correctly record this feature. The next visit intends record the entrance, the area where the entrance passage meets the chamber, mid way along the chamber and the edge of the collapse; these specific points will offer the best illustration of the significant corbelling built to accommodate the then, available roof lintel lengths. Also decided when conducting profiles of the site surface, will include both the entrance and collapse area of the souterrain, which will be on a bearing, something close too 175°Mg, the other profile set perpendicular to this bearing say 085°. When surveying the entire ringfort the erection of a plane table will need be set on the limestone terrace, some three metres SE of the house, where it will be able to see / record the entire ringfort interior features. Managed to push head into hole in slope of the collapsed boulders, observed the end of the east wall stonework set against bedrock; suspicions the souterrain extended beyond the ringfort rampart may be unfounded. A cracking day; didn’t spill any tea. Intend to invite others to assist with the site survey.

Pat Cronin

14th March     CL004-016040 Souterrain, Caherbullog

 

PC

Cold: Showers: Cloud 100%: Cloud base ≈700ft: Wind N/NE F3: Visibility thirty metres: Ground sodden. The Plan: check a measurement. Left the Hilux near Poul an Phúca III; the late start encountering poor visibility, did not use a GPSR, exercised memory, minor delay locating the ringfort in dense fog. Re-measured distance between base of the first lintel and entrance floor datum; measurement in fact correct: need write neater in field book! Near the unregistered, substantial enclosure thoughts turned to the cave entrance enthusiastically mentioned by landowner; need ask MF of exact location. Emerged from cloud base at drover’s track junction; 800ft. Am much happier with souterrain survey.

Pat Cronin

17 March 2021.JPG
CL004-016040.JPG

15th March     Considine’s Cave, (South End)

 

PC

Cloud Base ≈300ft: Rain: Visibility 80m: Wind SW, F1: Ground awash: Medium stream: The Plan: continue building the scaffold grill. The winch shed was delightfully dry; recent protracted, heavy rainfall being an excellent test. Ran the generator and the winch whilst dangling in the shaft; fitted the four metre length on the east side; it is, for the moment at an angle. This tube extends to the north edge of the shaft collar, similar to the tube on the west side. When the shaft collar is dismantled to replace the dodgy pallet it will be possible to extend the lateral scaffold tube beneath the replacement pallets, improving overall support. Nine of the ten scaffold clips left on site used, leaving a total stock of eleven; originating in the UK, posted to Popeye, then kindly delivered by Matt Randall. UK prices around £2.50 a piece, Ireland around 25 euro each. Fairly soaked, turned attention to the winch, having it ran for an hour; capstan would not function, muddy and wet left stripping the winch for the moment. Generator ¼ full: five litres of fuel on site.

Hours 2 (2712), Southend (1662), Kibbles 0 (5331), Nets 0 (869), Total lifts 6201

Pat Cronin

Scaffold.JPG

The scaffold grill under the winch shed and directly over the North shaft

17th March     CL004-016040 Souterrain, Caherbullog

 

Solo

Cold: Wind N, F2: Cloud 100%, thin layer: Watery sun: Ground wet: The Plan: record passage cross sections. Sciatica playing up: parked east of the Blessed well to reduce walk in distance, even so the kilometre took forty minutes to traverse. Chose to record section midway along the chamber and where the entrance passage meets the chamber. Hung tape measure from roof lintels; using a tripod mounted red laser for vertical precision. This area of the chamber is where the original floor surface may be exposed, among the scatter of stones, so may have the original chamber height. Intended to record ringfort entrance section and mid point in the entrance passage; discomfort decided otherwise. Departing, made NW to avoid crossing the rough area of clints and grykes. Thirty metres North encountered a curious pile of large rocks; similar to roof lintels, first impressions are the feature is a building. Painfully slow return to the truck; gate resembled that of a ruptured duck: reached the truck in Fog: Happy St. Patrick’s Day. 

Pat Cronin

18th March     Considine’s Cave, (South End)

 

CC & PC

Cool: Cloud 100%: Wind N, F2: Visibility 5Nm: Ground wet: Small stream: The Plan: maintenance. The winch motor’s ability to engage and release the drive to the capstan required attention; enforced Covid absence from digging has likely cause corrosion to form on the drive shaft surface. An awkward, steady process of stripping the drive was temporarily halted for want of an imperial Allen Key to enable removal of the motor end housing. Task should be completed the next visit.  Generator ¾ full: no fuel on site.

Hours 4 (2716), Southend (1666), Kibbles 0 (5331), Nets 0 (869), Total lifts 6201

Pat Cronin

 

     

19th March     Considine’s Cave, (South End)

CC & PC

Mild: Cloud 90%: Wind N, F2: Visibility >30Nm: Small stream: The Plan: Strip out the winch motor. CC arrived laden with tools. Steady job removing the clutch housing. Care exercised to avoid dropping parts through the gaps down the north shaft. Scrutinized in daylight, the team mused over the practicalities of its further disassembly; a task for CC’s workshop. Generator ¾ full: no fuel on site: took photo of scaffold grill. Assessed impending dodgy pallet replacement procedure: PC has two pallets. For ease of removal will dismantle the entire section surrounding the suspect pallet. Intend to mount the replacement pallet upon scaffold tubes in addition to existing timber.

Hours 4 (2720), Southend (1670), Kibbles 0 (5331), Nets 0 (869), Total lifts 6201

Pat Cronin

The winch is driven by a half horsepower electric motor. In the idle position the the drive pulley is locked against the back of the clutch plate by means of a spring on the operating lever pressing it against the brake block. When the lever is lifted, the clutch plate moves away from the brake block, freeing the drive pulley and presses against the motor flywheel transmitting power to the pulley.

Clutch 2.JPG

The clutch mechanism with the brake block at the top ( clutch plate removed )

clutch 1.JPG

The clutch plate which engages with the fly wheel on the motor

25th March     Considine’s Cave, (South End)

 

CC, PC

10:00. Cloud 60%: Wind N, F4: Visibility <20Nm: Ground wet: Small stream. The Plan: reassemble the winch. PC obtained two pallets, delivering same to the dig. The serviced clutch mechanism was swiftly reattached to the motor and ancillary linkages; testing, the system performed well; ready to winch. Reviewed procedure of stripping apart platform, shaft collar and crawl way through to the fixed ladder, to remove the dodgy pallet. Have settled on lifting two pallets from the platform to access the assemblage below; this way CC can lower kit directly onto a suspended PC. Generator ¾ full: no fuel on site.

Hours 3 (2723), Southend (1673), Kibbles 0 (5331), Nets 0 (869), Total lifts 6201

Pat Cronin

 

     

28th March       Ringfort, (Cashels) CL004-016021 & CL004-016022

 

PC

Heavy rain: Cloud base 300ft: Visibility 30 metres: Wind SSW, F8/9: Ground sodden. The Plan: check above cashels for evidence of souterrains. These two cashels are square in form. Such cashels are suggested as potential medieval administrative centres, where tithes were collected - disputes settled. An exposed landscape, open to weather from all points of the compass: elevation ≈970ft, (295m).  Delayed with assisting Christy O’Brien round up wayward cattle, just as rain arrived, further reducing already poor visibility. Water poured off the land and down the ruts of the Drovers Road. Scampered off to find these cashels before Noah arrived, rain increasing torrential: abandoned search after, visibility reduced to five metres and water level in boots overflowed through lace holes; totally and utterly drenched. Turned west, through fog, locating the Drovers road, turned SW; sheltered from driving rain behind wall, near stile. Visibility lifted to one hundred metres. Noted a very interesting depression beyond the western wall; closer inspection is required. This area is a little further north from that prospected with Mark Lumley, some twenty years back. Encountered Christy again; enquired ownership of the depression, delighted to hear the owner is a friend of PC. Walked back to the Hilux at Faunarooska; thoughts turned to RA and Steve Milner busy sunning themselves in Australia, bugger.

29th March is the anniversary of departing Panamá as the Pox descended upon the world. 

Pat Cronin

29th March     Site in Ballyelly townland

 

PC

ITM 514873 x 705715

Elevation ≈ 260 metres, (850ft)

Cloud 100%: Wind S, F6: Light drizzle: Visibility <20Nm: Ground wet. The Plan: visit the depression. Assessing the site from an elevated position sparked a distant memory of previously being here with Mark Lumley. An enclosed depression; estimated an acre in area: seventy odd metres diameter. Virtually circular, it’s flat base is a conservative ten metres below the surrounding karst pavement and adjacent an OS spot height. A ten metre wide channel flows north; its invert some three metres above the “apparent” floor level of the depression. This floor is bog; soft, deep and yielding; experienced difficulty approaching the sinks. Of which there are at least three, all equally promising; further work required. Before becoming too excited need double check ownership and obtain permission. A year ago today the remaining Panamá Project Team left Panamá, as the nation closed for the duration; never realizing we would not see Marilyn, ever, again.

Pat Cronin

30th March     Considine’s Cave, (South End)

 

PC

Failed to scrounge pallets from the Creamery; a neighbour, overhearing the plea offered to deliver several he had. Unfortunately they are 1000mm x 800mm, though heavy duty; will do to close off the sides beneath the platform. Slowly crept the Hilux toward the bend in the downhill track, stopped; deciding conditions too poor to proceed. Experienced a slow motion slide, all wheels locked; slid sedately around the sharp bend finishing at the bottom of the slope; dropped off pallets. Managed to turn the truck in the shite; engaged low ratio, only managing some five metres up the 10° slope. Engaged diff locks, sat back and waited while the truck crept imperceptibly up the 30° slope. Twenty minutes reached the uphill side of the bend, but no further, no traction. Pete Williams and his tractor arrived to assist recovery; a very nice bloke.

Pat Cronin

Or