July to September
3rd July Cat’s hole, Cong
Jim Warny diving, Jay Conroy, Adam Seweryn and Tomek, Sherpa’s
Max Depth: 37m
Configuration: Sidewinder, 2 x 7l Ean32
Thanks to the help of Jay the gear was carried in 2 trips and deposited at the start of the sump. Adam arrived just in time to see me off and snap a few pictures.
Travel through the sumps was swift and after 45min I was ready to start in sump 8. The previous limit of exploration was at a restriction where gravel was sloping in from the far side. After tying in a line reel, I proceeded to pass the restriction; this required digging through the gravel. Once past the restriction I entered a large tunnel. I immediately noticed a rise in temperature (from 10degrees to 16degrees) and the visibility improved to 5m.
The passage ascended 20m and changed in nature (looking very similar to pigeon hole). I suspect I hit a junction beyond the restriction where the main flow from the lake seems to join the water coming from Ballymaclancy. The flow gradually increased as I progressed further in to the new passage. After reeling out +/- 200m and hitting a depth of 35m I tied off the reel and headed out (time 40min). 12 minutes decompression was needed before exiting sump 8. The return journey was fast and thankfully Jay joined me for the carry out.
Sump 8 is approximately 450m long now, making the gap between Cats and Pigeon roughly 250m. A return is planned asap.
Cat's Hole photos taken by Adam
Jim at the Entrance
Jay and Jim at the dive site
Setting off into sump one
Kitted up and ready to go
3rd July Considine’s Cave, (South End)
Cloud 10%: Midges: Warm, (17°C ish): Midges: Wind W, F1: Midges: Visibility <30Nm: Midges: Ground dry: Midges: Tiny stream; a beautiful evening and Midges. The Plan: Digging & Maintenance. CC descended to view progress and assess work required to install the next section of 2.3m fixed ladder. A small amount needs removing from present floor level to accommodate the length. Installing this ladder may impede ease of clearing the passage into the North Shaft, ("The Link"?). Preparations to secure the fish plates to the existing ladder need be made soon, before a lower floor surface puts this out of reach, working off the three metre builder’s ladder. Surfacing, into a cloud of Midges, CC commented, “there are holes in the floor, everywhere”. Decided to send up the filled six kibbles and one net, during hauling CC washed and cleaned out the adhered clays from all kibbles, increasing their holding capacity; ready for Monday, 18:00. Generator ½ full: CC fuel: Fuel on site.
Hours 3 (2863), Southend (1813), Kibbles 6 (5638), Nets 1 (896), Total lifts 6542
5th July Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
Cloud 40%: Wind W, F2: Visibility<25Nm: Small stream: Ground drying: Midges: The Plan: Dig. CC winching: PMcG digging: PC unloading and barrowing, wall building. PMcG developed the working face he’d created at the south end, progressing toward the hauling way; some one metre deep and a little over one metre in front of the south rift. Further exposing the significant undercutting; origins of this formation are under discussion. The formation of “The Ribs” appears to reduce the floor area; yet the Main Shaft's square shape remains some nine square metres. The fill is of increasing loose compaction, moving easily under foot. The position, depth and shape of the present working face will, temporarily, require hauling to operate at an angle. This passes close to the RSJ supporting the three tonne “Guillotine”: though well secured, disturbance is not recommended. Thirty kibbles were produced and one net; the clays particularly sticky. A new section of drystone wall, behind the winch shed, is taking shape, the area behind filling with cobbles and boulders; clays and gravels are deposited in as level a surface as possible to allow future ease of barrowing. PMcG joined the team 29th April, as of this session producing 296 kibbles and 26 nets in twelve sessions; conservatively 12.8 tonnes.
Generator almost ½ full: Fuel on site. Foliage needs trimming to fully tip the barrow.
Hours 8 (2871), Southend (1821), Kibbles 30 (5668), Nets 1 (897), Total lifts 6573
10th July Chrissies Cave, Loughrea
Cloud 90%: Humid, 17°C: Wind SE, F2: Visibility >20Nm: Ground soft. The Plan: Dig. On arrival expressed concern over young bullocks in the field, fearing the inquisitive may be at risk from the unfenced pot entrance. Michael Keating arrived kindly delivering a short builders ladder for the entrance. Mentioning concern over the bullocks, MK sorted out electric fence ribbon; later intending re-erect/position the existing fence posts around the hole. CC, JW & PC had previously assessed the potential location of passage entered in the 1970s; since when part of an adjacent earth wall has slumped obscuring any evidence where once it was. The survey, kindly supplied by Jeremy Boyle, original explorer, is immensely useful as to what was entered by his team.
CC cut away part of a buried roll of fence wire allowing PC to stack more spoil. Started trench five feet back from the possible passage location, in order to create enough room to dig all the easier as the tunnel progresses. Two hours of steady work moved about a tonne and a quarter, exposing a significant undercut descending toward the north. At one point, two metres of distance was visible down the inclined air gap between clay and roof. In the soft earth found what appeared to be a sorry pair of Long Johns.......? Also found, in an air space, an elderly Lilt bottle; this item suggests the route taken by the occasional flood water. Clearing up, CC suggested a pallet to close of the small opening into the steep undercut leading to the dig, at the base of the open pot; to prevent a young bullock from falling/entering this confined area. Eighty minute journey; superb session.
12th July Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
18:00. Cloud 70%: Wind W, F2/3: Visibility <25Nm: Ground dry: Small stream: Midges. The Plan: Dig. PC trundled across one of four previously scrounged heavy duty pallets. CC winching: PMcG digging: PC unloading, barrowing. PMcG continued excavating the west wall northward toward the “The Ribs”. In this northwestern area of the main shaft, PMcG exposed a downward sloping section of wall, protruding 0.6m into the shaft. Adjacent boulders obscured an accurate assessment, but it’s believed the forward edge of the “tongue” resumes the vertical. The spoil removed here glutinous. Of the thirty kibbles raised just twelve were boulders: the two nets holding large boulders. Issues arose during barrowing; urgency required to create a sound barrow way at the rear of the winch shed and up into the western spoil area. Each decrease in available capacity as the approach slopes increase; the sessions effort produced a shagged out team. Generator ½ full: no fuel on site. Foliage in spoil areas need trimming to allow the barrow to be fully tipped. The next net raised will be the 900th, a conservative total weight of fifty four tonnes.
Hours 8 (2879), Southend (1829), Kibbles 30 (5698), Nets 2 (899), Total lifts 6605
16th July Oughtdarra
Fog: Sunny spells: Visibility 100m to >20Nm: Temp 25˚C. The Plan: record ITM for Lackinaska resurgences. Walked in from Poulsallagh, joined a little later by PMcG; took about an hour: delighting in the remoteness. Recorded the four resurgences, west to east and the adjacent sink. The elongated mound, from whence they appear, seems glacial in origin, To the north, up to the upper cliff face the uneven landscape is peppered with shallow gulleys, sinks and risings; today most being dry-ish. All seem to have a common source. Among talus from the upper cliff, a medium sized stream is visible beneath a large boulder, (circa 2.4m x 1.5m x 1m; adjacent us a small pile if capped spoil. To the left, west, of the spoil a narrow crevice accesses a cavity where digging has taken place; evidenced by capping and other unsuccessful, violent means. The passage ends at a small pool, through which a possible continuation may exist. To the left a small passage may also continue. PC and chest managed to join PMcG in the cavity, a return for PMcG to press on through the pool is in train. The immediate surface area was examined, but the presence of midges, horseflies etc. did not encourage close scrutiny. The volume of capped spoil suggests, if three men were present, a day’s work. Allowing for the fact Tratman used the average 2˚dip of the limestone beds when surveying, there is a vague possibility this resurgence may, at least partly, originate from Poulnagrai, or close to.
Meandering back to the truck encountered a shaft sectioned remnant, some three metres high by over one metre diameter. Near the promontory fort.
17th July Chrissies Cave
Cloud 5%: Temperature >22˚C: Visibility 25Nm: Ground dry. Walking to the dig stopped by the land renter, a delightful, interested man; Brian Barratt. A cousin of his Father had been in the cave; plan to meet and debrief him, next week. The Plan: dig. Continued to lower the floor. Soon encountered clothing, refuse and plastic bags. Broken glass a nuisance; dropped the floor around 0.3m. Frustrated at the effort required digging through the crap began to reach beneath the undercut, hoping to follow the roof down rather than dig through glass and tough plastic sheet. Two hours of work produced a fraction of the spoil moved last week. MK and BB dropped by to see progress, described difficulties digging through crap. Some form of conveyance is required to move the spoil. MK gave permission to wander his farm and use what was required. By midday the temp was in the mid-20s; saw the bar, An Crush Nua, was open. Enjoyed the first pint since James Cobbett Junior’s microbrewery beer, consumed, 28th March 2019. Will attempt another digging session, if situation is untenable, will seek permission to open the Roadside Sink.
17th July Pigeon hole
Arek Puc & Jim Warny
Max Depth: -32m
Configuration: 2x7l EAN32, Al40 EAN50, Al40 O2 and Sidewinder rebreather
The plan was to investigate the ascending part of the cave and see where the flow was lost on previous explorations.
We both used scooters to pass the deep point. With Jim in front taking advantage of Arek's strong scooter lights behind him he started checking the walls for leads. No leads were found until we hit the shadows on the far end where we staged the scooters and swam on.
Before reaching the Michal's lake Jim noted and marked some potential leads on the line. After surfacing in the lake Jim de kitted and explored the dry chamber past the unpassed restriction, this chamber ends in a dead end with the stream trickling out of a low bedding.
Kitting up in the liquid mud proved challenging and one of the rebreather hoses popped off in the process, luckily the mud did not penetrate into the rebreather. Arek was watching on from the water and hopefully has some nice video footage from the Battle in the mud bath.
Once back in the water the decision was made for Jim to check the marked leads, both leads did not result in to going passage and are oxbows. After this we surfaced in the second air bell and had a chat, agreeing to turn the dive.
On the way back Jim noticed another lead with what seemed to be clear water flowing in the shallows before reaching the scooters. Jim signalled Arek from a distance and tied in the line reel.
Descending in to a narrow stepped restriction required tilting sideways. Once through the restriction the flow was met in bedding passage that soon opened up into a sizable conduit. The passage was heading west straight towards cat's hole. After about 100m of line was laid, Arek caught up with Jim and took over the reel and continued.
Arek's excitement got the better of him as he had his first taste of the explorer’s elixir, but we soon ended up in a dead end. The decision was made to return to base after having laid 150m of line.
The new section has a noticeable flow in it, and it shouldn't be difficult to find the way on next time. The exit was swift with some high-speed kamikaze scootering by Jimbo.
Jim Warny at the entrance to Pigeon Hole
Jim Warny and Arek Puc 'Ready, Willing & Able'
Dive Base, Pigeon Hole
19th July Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
13:45. Cloud 5%: Wind NW, F2: Visibility ≤25: Ground dry: Haze: Temp upper 20s: Tiny stream: Sweltering: The Plan: Dig. PMcG suggested a midday session, as unable to dig tonight. CC winching: PMcG digging: PC unloading and barrowing. PMcG continued to expose the western wall to “The Ribs”; doing so exposing an undercut. The debris is still glutinous, with large boulders, several awaiting a 2:1 lifting session. Thirty kibbles and the 901st net raised, only 99 to go to the 1000th. The barrow way works well: if the canopy is trimmed a little then spoil can be deposited up against the east boundary wall, and adjacent the generator shed. Generator ½ full: no fuel in site. Another pallet rolled to the dig; two on site, two more waiting on the track.
Hours 8 (2890), Southend (1840), Kibbles 30 (5728), Nets 2 (901), Total lifts 6637
19th July Pigeon hole
Jim Warny and John Shmidt as Sherpa
Max Depth: -32m
Configuration: 2x7l EAN32, Al40 EAN50, Al40 O2 and Sidewinder rebreather
The plan was to investigate the end of the line in the section of cave found on the last dive.
The end of the line was reached in about 40min. Multiple attempts ended up fruitless to find ongoing passage.
The flow was not noticeable, maybe a dive in higher water conditions is needed to regain the flow.
24th July Chrissies Cave – Roadside Sink
Cloudless, >25˚: Wind NE, F0/1: Ground dry: Visibility >20Nm: Haze: The Plan: Dig.
En-route rang Brian requesting a mobile number for John McCardle; an explorer of the cave. Among the chat explained as attending solo today, would it be possible to begin opening the sink adjacent the road as the choke in Chrissie’s cave was problematic; told “no problem, work away”. Encountered Michael Keating on site who had delivered the ladder, wandered over toward the rising; MK explaining the area has many flagstones set about, which were used to step on to draw water. MK also confirmed the questioned presence of an old mill, some 400 metres west, driven by a large stream, which is still thereabouts. Like Chrissies cave refuse was deposited to close off the road side sink to children. During the first visit CC removed several rusted sections of 45-gallon oil drums. Commenced digging; managed to dig around, and remove remaining metal sections. Decided to dig as close to the tree as possible, through what appeared to be “original” soil deposition. Looking at the area, around a metre above the sink, an open hole is present, it takes the overflow; also adjacent the tree is a horizontal section of bedrock; decided to cleave downward and square edges and face of the excavation. A few pieces of refuse found, though nothing as soul destroying as that in Chrissie’s. Cutting the face downward exposed several conduits within the soil. A little deeper, exposed two chunks of limestone either side of the hole; north and south, some metre apart, at right angles to each other. The proximity of all these features and the bedrock suggests this may well be an easier route into the cave; need take along a camera: delighted.
29th July Considine’s Cave, (South End)
18:00. Cooler, ≈17˚C: Cloud 70%: Wind NW, F2: Visibility >30Nm: Ground damp: Small stream: The Plan: Dig. Trundled the final pallet to the dig; four on site. CC descended to view progress; removing a few small stones to inspect the boulder adjacent the “Tongue” exposed by PMcG. The emerging undercut appears ragged and sharp. Previously filled kibbles were sent to surface; eighteen in total. Next to the tree the summit of the boulder pile has been reached, ≈3m. This height should not draw too much attention or comment from the neighbours: growth of boundary foliage should assist. Discussed hauling route needed to pass “The Ribs” to land and lift loads from the main shaft; offset being 0.6m – 1.m: this needs sorting soon. Two bolts already fitted to suspend the control lines, yet as shaft depth increases this simple system may become unworkable. Discussed some form of chute situated just above “The Ribs”, with the ability to smoothly guide a full kibble or angular shaped net safely past this offset. Generator almost ½ full: no fuel on site. More trimming of foliage required; the temporarily light weight pallet needs replacement. Forgot to lift signal box above potential flood level.
Hours 5 (2895), Southend (1845), Kibbles 18 (5746), Nets 0 (901), Total lifts 6655
31st July Roadside Sink, Tinageeragh, Loughrea
10:30. Cloud 70%: ≈18˚C: Wind NW, F2: Visibility >20Nm: Ground dry: Tiny stream: The Plan: Continue opening Roadside Sink. PC deepened the hole started last week, dumping spoil onto the stream pipe being installed by CC; reducing spoil handling to just the once. Had notified MK and BB, were digging today; both appeared, offering support. Talk turned to local based John McCardle; who explored Chrissies Cave in the mid/late 1970s. BB departed, swiftly returning with JM who spoke with clarity of his solo exploration. Of import is his description of the entrance area of Chrissies cave; a far less steep approach to the beginning of the crawling passage. Added to this, BB described how he rebuilt the adjacent wall owing to subsidence, this explains the present steep slope of the entrance. This soft, virtually stone free soil ultimately flowed down to cover the deposited refuse, recently exposed. It was reasoned the bags of refuse, exposed at the deepest point, may not require too many removed to uncover the entrance to the crawl…… well, that’s the theory. The Team felt JM’s description of his 1970s trip can be trusted; he had been a miner in Canada, used to maintaining his wits of surroundings underground. He also added that the adjacent road was pushed through in the 1930s, using hardcore from adjacent mounds, at this time a significant stream conduit was installed.
After two and a half hours digging, Roadside Sink was 0.8m by 1.2m and -1.5m, exposing several rounded boulders, and converging bedrock faces. The boulders appear on the same horizon, which may once have been the stream bed. Fortunately, the steady trickle of water soaked away, until the diggers position needed alter, choking the outlet. The pool level slowly rose to welly depth, remaining stable. BB and MK both described recent heavy rainfall in this area and its affect at this depression. Scrutiny of the sink, below the overflow and between the newly exposed limestone faces strongly suggest a rift entrance. Considering todays tiny stream, the Team intend remove the soil between the limestone faces starting at the overflow. Doing so will follow an obvious drainage route, reducing wet digging. The next visit will return to Chrissies Cave to remove more refuse bags; MK intends assist the Team with this. From An Crush Nua, which overlooks the dig, MK saw the Team changing; ringing the mobile MK insisted they visit the bar so he could buy them drink!
1st August Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC, Des McNally, Lenny Smith, PC
18:00: Cloud 60%: Wind NW, F2: Visibility >30Nm: Ground drying: Small stream: The Plan: Initially, assess hauling deviation installation. At PMcG’s birthday, last night, PC was approached by LS enquiring if he and DM could visit the dig; both accorded invite. On arrival at the bottom PC was surprized at the change in the shaft’s characteristics; the place requires photography to record these significant features, starting at around -24m. The undercut, exposed by PMcG, runs around the shaft circumference interrupted by “The Tongue”, “The Ribs”, the Southeast rift and the Southern rift. This horizontal undercut edge is a ragged, water worn affair, stepping back under the shaft wall between 0m to 0.5m. “The Gap” width between “The Ribs” reducing to 0.15m. Delightful of all is the Southern rift; the one metre of depth, recently removed, exposed a wider rift section, close to the shaft, if not for the 50˚ slope of collapsed debris, descent would be possible, even for normal chest sized people. The length of this wider section extends south some two metres; at the far base of the slope the floor appears silt; to be expected considering the oft flooding of this shaft when the underground Coolagh River backs up following protracted rainfall. Discussed with CC the installation of a temporary hauling deviation, that is until the floor is lowered a further one or so metres. Immediate benefits, reducing the effort expended by the digger, later, a better understanding of the shape of the shaft, contributing to a more appropriate, robust design. Looking down both rifts suggest a minimum, attainable depth of around -27/28m; this is around 5/6m short of Poul Eilbh pitch, which DM informs is thirty three metres. PC ascended leaving LS, to be joined by DM, both offering dig. However, only four kibbles were sent up, as PC was under time constraint this evening.
Hours 4 (2899), Southend (1849), Kibbles 4 (5750), Nets 0 (901), Total lifts 6659
Lenny Smith and Des McNally after adding 100kg to the spoil Heap
Awaiting your next log please. "Remember, if it's not written down it never happened"