April to June
3rd April Considine's (South End)
Cloud 90%: Wind NE, F2: Visibility 20Nm: Ground drying: Tiny stream: The Plan: maintenance. CC had stripped the winch motor apart and found it sound in wind and limb. Carefully scraping the paint from the old capacitor PC exposed the date, Feb/69, and eventually found its rating; 288Mf. CC assemble three capacitors with a combined value of 153Mf; getting the unit to start. The motor has a very heavy, internal flywheel; CC believes this is what requires the large capacitor value. The present assembly needs replacing with appropriate contained, multiples, or a single capacitor. In the meantime, it will work, and allow digging to recommence. PC removed the three capacitors to fit into a container, for the moment. Delighted to resume digging tomorrow.
Hours 5 (3184), Southend (2134) Kibbles 0 (6382), Nets 0 (926), Total lifts 7313
4th April Considine's (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
Cloud 100%, base 500ft: Wind W, F4, gusting F6: Visibility 0.2Nm: Ground damp: The Plan: Dig. CC winching: PMcG digging: PC unloading and barrowing. Fitted the tubular capacitor container; fired up the winch. Minor squeaks and a rattle or two emerged from the winch, but soon settled. This is a temporary fix whilst awaiting other capacitors. PMcG followed the shaft, at the base of “The Gap”, down to the northeast. The going was tough enough in the gradual, reducing passage size. Visible, over the gravel and cobble fill, appears to be the far wall of the rift, visible in “Paul’s Pot”. At -27.2m, a solid floor was exposed, still sloping northeast: the passage assuming a crawl/bedding, similar to that found in the North End at -26.5m. The plan is for two to dig this confined, awkward area, to make life easier, fill and stack kibbles, then raise on the next session. Dependent on what is found, work will resume at the far south end floor, presently at around -25m. Thirty kibbles were raised, of which nine were cobbles. The remainder silty gravels. Generator ½ full: no fuel one site.
Hours 10 (3194), Southend (2144) Kibbles 30 (6412), Nets 0 (926), Total lifts 7343
7th April Poulanionain (Doolin Show Cave)
NG, JB, CC, PC
Cloud 60%: Wind NW, F4: Ground damp: Had been asked by John Brown to solve the issue of lifting a kibble of clay up the entrance shaft. Suggested a counterbalance system. NG prepared the steel channel; securing same to the metal work in the shaft top required three pairs of hands. Set up the hauling rope and installed 25mm pulleys. Lateral metal work that is the frame of the steps, to the base of the shaft, ≈ -25m, occasionally protrudes, so 2 x ringbolts are required to distance the centre of lift ropes further out into the shaft, away from the horizontal RSJ’s; NG will source these in Galway. Photos; Cheg Chester.
Nuts removed ready to attach the steel channel
Pulley's and hauling rope in position (Knot is temporary)
PC, NG & JB Lifting the steel channel into place
Looking up the 80ft entrance shaft. (125 steps)
11th April Considine’s (South End)
Pete and Isha Mulholland, Jim and Roisin Dempster
Cloud 100%, base 1100ft. Wind NW, F3/4: Ground damp: No stream: The Plan: tourist visit. Most to -26m. PM, a geologist, provided insight to cave’s development. Requested could he supply a brief synopsis of his observations. Later conversation realized Roisin was Sheila Lunny’s, sister, a good pal, sister to Donal Lunny, (Planxty); it’s a small world.
Geological observations of the Dig
A large solution feature cutting down through carboniferous limestone that has been choked with glacial morraine. The rock can be described as an argillaceous wackestone with both bracciopod fossils (you're oyster) and cherty nodules. Silicious sponge remains. Of note were black discs the core's of which had calcite and pyrite mineralisation. The technical term for these nodules is geodes These have formed around a void in the sponge rich mud. The silica from the sponge has formed a chalcedony wall around a core that infilled through slow fluid flow with calcite crystals and pyrite crystals. It's the iron sulphide in the pyrite that makes the geode heavy. When the limestone was initially laid down it would have been in a backreef tropical lagoon. Not so far from a coastline that provided a source of clay fraction that makes this limestone grey in colour. Imagine modern great barrier reef inside the outer barriers.
The size of the fissure suggests it should connect with a stream passage at depth.
The fissure predates the glacial fill, so it is likely the cave first formed during one of the 5 interglacial periods the region has gone through. Photos: Cheg Chester.
A typical Clare 'Bullion Stone' or Geode (£1 coin for size)
Geode broken open to show the mineralised core
14th April Poulanionain
NG, JB, PC
Cloud 100%: Wind W, F2/3: Ground damp: The Plan: further develop the counter balance system. Fitted the bolts, which extended the centre point of the pulley suspension into the shaft by some 80mm. Kibbles were connected then hauled to assess the clearance from the metalwork. The additional distance of 80mm is not enough. Scrutinized belay structure locating the centre of the pulleys. Checked adjacent area; as further adjustment from here would require an individual hanging out into the -25m shaft; unacceptable for future maintenance. Brainstorming, relocated the entire suspension location to mount on top an adjacent box section RSJ, while doing so redesigned the pulley support structure, as a “T” frame. With the long section of the “T” resting along the RSJ, secured by brackets. Facilitating adjustment of the centre line of the pulleys into the shaft around a maximum of some 300mm, and able to be installed or serviced from within the “Safe” area. Later message from NG; the new support is prepared; will likely fit next Thursday. Celebrations are planned for the 70th anniversary of Poulanionain’s discovery, likely attended by Brian Varley (90); held this coming Spring Bank Holiday.
18th April Considine’s (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
Cloud 60%. Wind NW, F2: Chill: Ground wet: Visibility 30Nm: Tiny stream: The Plan: Dig. CC surface: PMcG and PC digging. Before the Team arrived, PC got the water system working again, blowing out sediment. Also noting a pallet requires replacement. The floor, between “The Gap” and the vertical wall of “Paul’s Pot”, descends, becoming a sloping passage, gradually assuming the horizontal, to head off southeast; (“The Scoop”). Doing so, inhibits hauling kibbles from this point of excavation, which creeps beneath the eastern wall of the shaft. PMcG previously noted further digging would become increasingly difficult. Suggesting two work this development; one dig, one drag and stack kibbles for later hauling. A floor of bedrock was swiftly proven, extending into the minor rift; along this tiny area, reducing the height of this passage to around 300mm: a voice connection was made through here, with PMcG positioned at “The Crevice” beyond “Paul’s Pot”. A little disappointed, attention returned to the far South End; two more 8mm holes for ring bolts were drilled to relocate the Travel Line belay at a lower level. Looking south, down into the South Rift, a depth of some three metres is visible. Two further 14mm holes were drilled to accept the Signal Box. PC ascended, leaving PMcG to lower the floor from -25m; the spoil consisting of silty gravel and cobbles. Normal service swiftly resumed; CC winching: PMcG digging: PC unloading and barrowing. The session finished with raising twenty kibbles. PMcG created a working face, following the east wall down to about -26m. Generator close to empty: no fuel on site.
Hours 9 (3203), Southend (2153) Kibbles 20 (6432), Nets 0 (926), Total lifts 7363
21st April Poulanionain
G, JB, PC, CC
Cloud 80%: Wind NE, F3: Visibility 30Nm: Ground damp. The Plan: install the pulley support bracket. Further to the previous brainstorming, NG fabricated the channel steel support. As planned, it fitted snugly between roof lintels and metal frame, without having to reach out into the shaft to secure it. The irregularity of the RSJs, within the framework, can cause a swinging kibble to catch, so the final task should be to install a travel line for each counter balanced kibble follow away from the side of the metal framework. Secured to ringbolts drilled in the concrete rings at the base of the shaft, suspended, independently from the pulley support bracket. Prior to departure visited the original entrance, now choked by rockfall from the cliff. Photos: Cheg Chester.
NG & PC Lifting the new bracket into position
Pulley's and hauling rope in position
The new bracket clamped in position
Looking Down The Shaft from the hauling position
28th April Brookmans Quarry (Stone Mine), Tormarton, Gloucestershire
Nigel Burns & Jim Smart
Brookman’s Quarry is an underground freestone quarry that worked from around 1850 until 1916, although it was later reworked, possibly around the 1930s, when an underground shaft was sunk to test the stone quality at depth, several holes in the floor from core drilling can also be seen. The workings were entered through a now broken down doorway that leads to pillar and stall type workings with cart-rutted roadways, many of the pillars have been robbed and large areas are backfilled with deads, total passage length we estimate at around 1,200 ft. There is also an airshaft down which a large number of old tyres have been dumped.
The entrance to Brookmans Quarry.
Photo: Nigel Burns, 2022
Pillar and stall workings with Jim Smart for scale.
Photo: Nigel Burns, 2022
I originally visited the site in 1991 along with Pat Cronin and surprisingly little has changed although some artefacts have disappeared including parts of a collapsed crane and a seven foot long lever bar. The main purpose of the recent visits was to try to get some decent digital photographs (so much easier with 35mm!), some of which are shown. As can be seen the mine is in a very clean state with very little modern graffiti although it obviously gets regular ‘visitors’ as evidenced by broken beer bottles and cans.
The seven foot long lever bar has since been located at the bottom of the underground test shaft.
Pat Cronin admiring the severn foot lever bar.
Photo: Nigel Burns, 1991
The safe resting place for the lever bar.
Photo: Nigel Burns, 2022
To see a good selection of Brookmans Quarry photos taken by Nigel Burns Click Here
29th April Considine's (South End)
Maintenance. One of the pallets on the west side of the platform had succumbed to rot. It being on the route a fully laden barrow takes, it was essential it be changed before resuming digging. The old pallet was cut up in situ to enable easy removal and the new one slid into place whilst using a hydraulic jack to slightly raise the structure above. A few 100mm screw to hold it in place completed the job. Generator topped up to just over half, Fuel CC, no fuel on site! Oil needs checking! Photos: Cheg Chester.
Hours 2 (3205), Southend (2155) Kibbles 0 (6432), Nets 0 (926), Total lifts 7363
16th May Pegasus Mini Reunion
Al Steans, Trevor Roberts, Malc Debage & Dave Epton
As a result of a random conversation with John Addison on facebook, in which he asked about Mr Roberts, I decided to search out Trev on FB. Although nobody had seen him for 20 years,and he had long since lost his flowing locks, his profile was instantly recognisable. I messaged Trev and he phoned me back within minutes. We arranged a meeting in a local pub, where Malc D and Dave E also attended. A pleasant couple of hours drinking ensued. Trev was keen to renew old acquaintances and said he'd be sure to be at this years reunion, now set for the 15th of October at the usual venue, the Plough, Radford, Nottingham.
Meanwhile another mini reunion was underway in the Derby Inn, Dalton in Furness with Dave Gough, Ruth King, Barbara & Terry Wright.
23rd May Considine’s (South End)
CC, PMcG, M (Gonzo) L, PC
Cloud 85%: Showers: Wind NW, F2/3: Visibility 30Nm: Ground wet: Medium stream. The Plan: Dig. CC winching: PMcG digging: PC unloading and barrowing: ML supervising. PMcG resumed digging the south end, where the shaft meets the south rift. The west side of the shaft appears to be passing beneath the west side of the south rift. Much stiff, dry clay removed, along with plenty of boulders. The area at this point approaches -26m. At one-point issues arose with the winch; CC diagnosed a brake issue, minor adjust solved this, however it requires closer assessment; likely Friday. Thirty Kibbles raised, of which half were clays. Some were of a blue grey hue, seemingly similar to that of the large, dreadful grey clay deposits previously encountered. Generator half full: fuel on site.
Hours 10 (3215), Southend (2165) Kibbles 30 (6462), Nets 0 (926), Total lifts 7393
24th May Sliabh Eilbh Project
M L & PC
Cloud 90%: Wind NW, F2: Visibility 25Nm: Ground wet: The Plan: search for reported cave entrance. Parked at Poulnagollum, walked along the drovers track to the area of E2. Excavator activity in the area has exposed three small but impressive sinks, two of which were previously noted. Unfortunately, these appear located on land recently purchased by an individual whose attitude may be unfriendly to cavers. Crossed onto MF’s land to begin search. MF had previously related how he would likely need guide PC to this unrecorded entrance. Adding he located a second cave entrance. The reported “hole” was not found in the location, given as “It’s beyond the Crush”. However, the field beyond an insubstantial, ruinous wall, possibly Bronze Age origin, was observed to extend southward, previously, within this area was noted an unrecorded, seemingly conically shaped depression, with associated partially obscuring foliage. Noted some years ago whilst searching for Caherbullog souterrain. During an exhaustive search, ML found three small solutional openings, none large enough to enter. After coffee, magic’d from ML’s person, walked to over to Pollantobar: Happy Heather Hole remains open following the recent dog rescue. Returning to the Hilux, noted several other interesting locations, within the forestry, each well worth a look; so similar to previous entrances locations found adjacent Pollbinn. A cracking day.
25th May Souterrains CL008-130002, CL008-001005 and 001004 and one unregistered
NG & PC
18:00. Cloud 70%: Wind WSW, F4: Visibility 20Nm: Showers: Ground; karst surface. The Plan: show NG one area of the souterrain study. Between the heavy showers managed to visit the Court tomb, (circa 4000BCE), and adjacent souterrains, (circa 400CE – 1200CE); the only potential connection between these two monuments; the later farmers who used the souterrains claimed ownership of the land, claiming the adjacent, prominent tomb was the repository of their ancestors. A land of lush pastures, well worth fighting for to run cattle upon, even today. The unregistered souterrain appears on Robinson’s Burren Map, but not listed within the National archaeological monument database.
27th May Considines (South End)
Cloud 10%: Wind WNW, F2/3: Visibility 35Nm: Ground dry-ish: Stream, small. The Plan; maintenance. During an earlier callout in Liscannor, an opportunity arose to scrounge a 2.5m length of 1.2m diameter corrugated black plastic drain pipe; swiftly returned with trailer, wrestled it home. Considine’s, 13:00, attended to the winch motor issue. Initial inspection focused on the operating mechanism actuated by the winchman’s foot. It would appear that during its five years of operating the winch may have moved, slightly. The very end of the lever found, just impinging the timber pallet wall of the winch shed. Secondly, the maillon link on the foot lever required replacement, and adjacent return spring, relocating, to re-introduce its ability to lift the foot lever to a position where the motor stops. The clutch appears fine, as does the braking adjustment. Operated, the linkage, which makes up the operating system works well. Generator a little under half full: Fuel on site.
Hours 10 (3225), Southend (2175) Kibbles 0 (6462), Nets 0 (926), Total lifts 7393
28th May Considines (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
Cloud 10%: Wind WNW, F2: Visibility 35Nm: Ground drying: Stream, small. The Plan, Dig. 17:30. PC arrived early to set up shop and prepare the 2:1 system to lift the large, obstructing boulder from the south rift. CC winching: PMcG digging: PC unloading and barrowing. Raising the, (non-limestone), boulder took some five minutes to surface; weighing in, at least seventy-five kilos: well rounded, obviously well stream washed. PMcG further exposed the east side, which continues to slope broadly southwards at around 45˚, mirroring the undercutting roof. Rocks raised show a return to the once common, flat-ish form; handy for the walling. Further lowering of the floor, against the west wall, by some 0.6m, exposed the sharp undercut of a bedding, rock removed exposed this to be an open area, appearing to extend south-westerly, two, to three metres, with possible development to the northwest. All delighted with the progress. Of the thirty kibbles raised, half contained a sticky clay matrix, with small cobbles. The others were boulders of various sizes, along with two nets. A cracking session. Thoughts considered digging this area as it deepens, as the narrow area created by the “The Gulley” will impede direct hauling, even with the travel line. Potentially, a staging may be required, in concert with an offset hauling system, similar to that used digging “Paul’s Pot”, to temporarily stack kibbles, prior to sending direct to surface; a system taking up two sessions to raise the normal thirty kibbles. Generator about ¼ full: fuel on site. To McDermott’s for drink, talk of caverns measureless to man and watch the sun set.
Hours 10 (3235), Southend (2185) Kibbles 30 (6492), Nets 0 (926), Total lifts 7423
9th June Beagh River Sink
Max depth: 16M
Bottom Time: 56min
Configuration: Sidewinder rebreather and 2 x 7l EAN32
The first dive since 2017. The plan: to replace the line in the entrance and locate the old line further in the system.
Carrying to the dive base involves getting down to the river level down a steep slope so a 50m rope was installed to help negotiating this. Once all the equipment and the diver where in the water the dive could begin.
The old dive line was still in place on the primary tie off but immediately below the surface the line enters an impenetrable mess of flood debris.
A new line was tied in and I started routing a way through the dense stack of branches and tree trunks. It took quite some time to find ongoing passage due to navigation being confusing in the entrance area.
After what seemed ages, I decided to turn the dive and reel the line back in.
13th June Considine’s, (South End)
18:00. Cloud 100%: Wind W, F2: Visibility 30Nm: Ground drying: Tiny stream. The Plan: assess bedding exposed by PMcG. CC lifelining. Descended swiftly to -25m. The hole opened by PMcG is close to where the south rift narrows off the main shaft. The opening is not so much a bedding, rather the apex of a rift. Two metres, beyond the breakthrough, each wall of the 0.3m high by 0.9m wide bedding, gently arcs together to form a 0.15m wide open rift; this is the apex of the passage. Below this 0.15m rift the width clearly increases. This significant development, heads west, estimated at -26.5m; the right sort of direction; long desired. A view down the south rift also suggests a slowly increasing width. Recent, disappointing, immature developments show no signs of similarity with that of this development. Formed at right angles off the shaft, in the west wall. At the base of “The Tongue”, (with its near vertical south side). Adjacent the south rift and close to the 45˚ slope of the external wall surrounding “Paul’s Pot”, all appear conspire to the potential of a cross rift, promising further shaft depth. It strongly appears the main shaft will continue downward. Assessing the area, utilization of the Travel Line will remain practicable, though a proportion of the fill in “The Gulley”, will require removal to create a slope, facilitating kibbles to pass along the arc, to land at the digger’s location. Ascending, took advantage of an aerial view from the staging at -14.5m; the walls at, and above, the new opening were bone dry, whilst all other walls were quite wet. Generator, all but empty: fuel on site. Travel line belays need be relocated in holes already drilled. One of the three bulbs of the lower digging light remains functional.
Hours 1 (3236), Southend (2186), Kibbles 0 (6492), Nets 0 (926), Total lifts 7423
14th June Beagh River Sink
Max depth: 22M
Bottom Time: 82min
Configuration: Sidewinder rebreather and 2 x 7l EAN32
This time being more prepared for what to expect in terms of navigating the underwater forest of doom.
A check of the old survey data confirmed the entrance passage trends North / North west for at least 100m.Following the compass blindly I managed to quickly empty the first reel with about 100m of line.
During the dive I had trouble reading my rebreather display, I put this down to the new near eye display I recently installed on the rebreather.
With the second line reel I proceeded further north following the left hand wall. At +/- 150m in I encountered my old dive line from 2017, it seemed in an OK state and the belays where solid. Nevertheless I opted continuing with laying new line along the old stuff, for peace of mind.
Around the 250m mark I hit the ledge that I remembered from previous dives. This area was where the way on was never found in 2017.
The gap between the end of the line and the devils punch bowl is +/-70m, so the passage should ascend to the surface soon.
I followed the line to the right at the drop off, this continued for another 30m where I found a sharp u turn in a dead end passage. Going back up the passage after the u turn I found my exploration reel that was left from the last dive in 2017.
I had had enough at this stage and picked up the old reel and wound it back to the start of the u turn and cut the line there.
The return dive was uneventful. At least I am back where I left the exploration back in 2017.
16th June Beagh River Sink
Max depth: 21M
Configuration: Back mount Megalodon rebreather and 2 x 7l EAN32
After Adam Seweryn cancelled a planned dive elsewhere I decided I'd do a dive in Beagh River again instead.
The end of the line was reached in 20min. I proceeded up the slope past the u turn again while probing the right hand wall. As I ascended I managed to find some low arches leading up a bolder slope indicating the beginning of a debris cone under the sinkhole of the Devils Punch Bowl.
When I reached -12m I didn’t dear to squeeze up the next restriction as the boulders looked like they were barely held in place. If these boulders would have dropped the passage below me could be blocked off.
While ascending through these restrictions I noted leaves and branches deposited everywhere, chances are these came from above but who knows, as the whole cave is littered with flood debris even 15m from the entrance.
The line was tied off around 15m and the dive was turned.
Using a different display this dive, I still had trouble reading the digits. I came to the realisation I need reading glasses; the joys of getting old.
Beagh River Sink remains to be connected to the Devils Punch Bowl but I’m confident I’m quite close. The size of the passage feels small compared to other passages in the further downstream parts of the south western Gort caves.
There is a big doline just west of the sink, indicating a collapse. In my opinion the original course of the underground river got diverted when this doilne collapsed and the water then took a more northern direction to bypass this collapse.
Due to low visibility we will never be able to really see what is going on down there.
6" map of the general area with the Devils Punch Bowl at centre
The Beagh River System. Blue indicates the river at surface,
Red indicates submerged cave.
The route taken on the dive covered by these logs is shown
here in yellow with the entrance at far right.
27th June Considine’s, (South End).
CC, PMcG, PC
18:00. Cloud 100%, 700ft: Wind W, F2: Steady rain: Visibility 2Nm: Ground awash: Medium stream. The Plan: Dig. CC winching: PMcG digging: PC unloading and barrowing. PMcG began to lower the floor area at the junction of the South Rift and West Passage, exposing a rib formed on one side of “The Gulley”, itself formed from the north/south fault. Thirty kibbles were swiftly raised, ten of boulders the remainder of clay and gravels. In preparation for following the south rift/west passage area down, PMcG cleared the southern part of “The Gulley”, which will be an obstacle to raising and lowering kibbles. Have no clear idea what the floor is going to do next. Generator ½ full: no fuel on site. Swallow nest has appeared in the winch shed. Potential session next Friday, 18:00.
Hours 8 (3244), Southend (2194), Kibbles 30 (6522), Nets 0 (926), Total lifts 7453