July to September
7th July Beagh River Sink
Max depth: 20M
Configuration: Sidewinder rebreather and 2 x 7l EAN32
The plan was to look at the terminal section.
I appropriately named it “ Vecna’s choke” as the place has a very intimidating/terrifying feel to it.
Once on my way from dive base I noticed the flow was stronger than the previous dives (we had substantial rain since).
I tied in a reel at the last belay of the last dive. First I proceeded back up the left hand side hoping that with the smaller rebreather id be able to squeeze up the restriction I looked up in. This proved to be too tight and dangerous to attempt so I backed out. The flow in is very noticeable in this section indicating this is definitely the way on.
I reeled back to the starting point and tried up the right hand slope. The flow was even more noticeable here but again to tight to go further. I turned the dive and removed any line I laid.
The dive out was uneventful. It looks like Vecna’s Choke is the end for this cave.
14th July Considine’s, (South End).
CC, PMcG, PC, Des McNally (DMcN)
18:00. Cloud 20%: Wind W, F1: Visibility 30Nm: Ground dry: No stream. The Plan: Dig. CC winching: DM and PMcG digging: PC unloading and barrowing. A further rock formation/development between the south rift and the west passage was exposed. A steady session, producing thirty kibbles; a little over a tonne. Water directed into the hole, at the present apex of the west passage, appears to fall away……Clays and mud removed, along with well rounded cobbles. Generator ½ full: CC fuel; on site. Swallow nest found unoccupied. Completion of seasonal employment, with NUI Galway Caherconnell field school, means return to normal digging life as of Monday 13:00.
Hours 12 (3253), Southend (2203), Kibbles 30 (6552), Nets 0 (928), Total lifts 7488
16th July Choked Sink, Lisdoonvarna.
CC, EM, PC; (Emmett McNamara)
13:00. Cloud 25%: Wind W, F1: Visibility >20Nm: Ground dry. PC was approached by EM to offer advice regarding occasional, localized flooding, believed a more regular event since adjacent forestry was planted. Suggested obtain a surface profile prior to further action. Will likely commence survey, and establish datums, next Thursday.
18th July Considine’s (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
13:00. 13:00. Cloud 10%; dense haze. Temp 24˚C: (33 in Dublin): Wind W, F1: Visibility 20Nm: Ground dry: No stream. The Plan: Dig. CC winching: PMcG digging: PC unloading and barrowing. Hot conditions. The floor area, at the junction of the South Rift and west passage, continues to increase in size. The deposit covering the floor of the west passage was steadily removed, uncovering a both smooth, and rugged/jagged surface, developing as a steep, inclined bedding. The heavy clay exhibited a complex stratigraphy, multiple layers of differing, coloured silts; soft browns through to dark gray. Thirty kibbles were produced, of which half were of large cobbles, the remainder heavy clays. It now takes two minutes and thirty five seconds to winch a kibble from the dig at the South Rift to surface. Generator all but empty: fuel on site. Blew sediment through water supply from reservoir; supply reinstated. To McDermott’s.
Hours 10 (3263), Southend (2213), Kibbles 30 (6582), Nets 0 (928), Total lifts 7518
21st July St. Breckan’s GAA Pitch
18:00. Cloud 80%: Wind W, F1: Visibility >20Nm: Ground dryish: Midges. The Plan: produce profiles of the GAA pitch, from which to investigate occasional flooding. Necessary investigation of adjacent sinks, (poultaloons), offer potential meetings with landowners, via an intermediary, to improve drainage at four previously unrecorded sinks.
Set up survey station, adjacent goal south end of pitch. Back sited into forestry, establishing a datum on a tree, (stainless steel screw); this will be used to work westward: around a metre below this datum is extensive evidence of small items of flood debris. Established another datum on the goalpost, to project onto the road, then south to the bridge and west to the larger of the adjacent sinks. Took levels of flood debris within the forestry. Initial assessment suggests when the level of the flood debris is extrapolated, a significant area of the southern half experiences water depth of a conservative 0.1m.
24th July St. Breckan’s GAA Pitch
14:15. Cloud 100%, base 800ft: Wind SW, F4/5: Visibility >20Nm: Ground flooded. The Plan: install datum on the bedrock at the sink. Heavy rain, through the night, suggested a stream would definitely be present, in the previously dry river bed. Arriving, noticed a flooded area around the southern goal posts; at the bridge, and a larger stream than expected. Walking the pitch, the area west, and beyond the road drains, showed significant water logging, draining to the south end, across the pitch to the overflow channel. Fears of significant road runoff manifest. Between showers, managed to take photos. The volume of flow is huge, the surface flow rate estimated at one half to a metre/second. This flow was unabated in the overflow channel. Searching for signs of active sinks, at two purported sites downstream, swiftly abandoned task when the family jewels became submerged. Stopped by concerned, elderly passerby; why so wet? Replied, it’s a long story. Could not reach the actual rising due to electric fencing and grumpy cattle with young, settled around the pool. Searched for a Bench Mark, shown on 25-inch map, as being on the south side of the bridge, above that side of the arch. Nothing found, briars need cutting away. Believe the rising, if opened, would access a pot up which the greater volume of flood water travels.
25th July Considine’s (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
13:00. Cloud 70%: Wind NW, F2: Visibility 30Nm: Ground damp: Medium stream. The Plan: Dig. CC winching: PMcG digging: PC unloading and barrowing. A film of dark brown, almost black sediment covered a significant area; the result of recent flooding, following the heavy rainfall Saturday night: conservatively assessed at 3 inches, yet believed closer to 3.25 inches. PMcG used PC’s camera to record features. Progress was tougher than previous; digging the heavy brown clay and return of the awful grey clay. Thirty kibbles were achieved, ten being cobbles and boulders, the reminder the clays. Issues arising as the hauling rope is passing over a dirty area, this is affecting the jammer’s ability to lock on the rope, when hauling is stopped. A review of the hauling route is needed to remove this problem. Along with improving the diggers ease to loading kibbles onto the hauling line; potentially arranged for Friday afternoon, 13:00. PMcG fuel. Generator a little over ½ full: No fuel on site. Found water flow to main cistern also poor, blew through sediment; sorted. PMcG to sort replacement underground light. To McDermott’s.
Hours 9 (3272), Southend (2222), Kibbles 30 (6612), Nets 0 (928), Total lifts 7548
26th July St. Breckan’s GAA Pitch
11:10. Cloud 70%: Wind W, F2: Visibility >20Nm: Ground damp. The Plan: check on water levels after Sunday flood conditions. Forty-five hours since previous observations; stream gulley “Dry”, no flow at all. Limited time meant cursory visit. Theory; believe a significant conduit exists draining toward the accepted rising of St Brendan’s, located in the Aille River valley. The resurging flow rate witnessed Sunday is likely to be “Backed up” flow issuing up a Pot/Shaft/Rift. The absence of obvious flow sinking at the large sink suggests it to backs up, or held up, forcing water to flow into the overflow channel and on to the two reported sinks. Initial conversations indicate an eagerness to address this problem, no issues were voiced against opening the large sink and, quite possibly, the rising. Delighted.
Main Sink underwater. Photo: Pat Cronin
Flood Channel. Photo: Pat Cronin
St, Brendans Rising. Photo: Pat Cronin
East side of the bridge. Photo: Pat Cronin
Looking into the South Rift. Photo: Pat Cronin
Entry to West Passage. Photo: Pat Cronin
31st July St Breckan’s GAA Pitch
Cloud 40%: Wind W, F1: Visibility >30Nm: Ground damp. The Plan: install survey datum at sink. Had a spare hour, sped over, arriving 12:45. Found a large stream backed up, but disappearing down the sink; surface flow rate significant. The extant stream level, almost equal to the crown of the natural embankment margin, separating the main sink from the overflow channel. Gingerly crossed the overflow channel to the far side, finding the heavily foliated ground cover obscuring, steepening sides of an obvious flood channel sink. Was ill prepared for scrambling about, will return.
View West towards St. Brendans Rising, totally dry.
Photo: Pat Cronin
View East towards Main Sink, totally dry.
Photo: Pat Cronin
1st August Considine’s (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
13:00. Cloud 100%, base 400ft: Yellow Rain warning; (12:00 today until 12:00 tomorrow): Heavy showers: Wind SSW, F3/4: Visibility 5Nm: Ground sodden: Very large stream. The Plan: review status of dig area. PMcG and PC descended with Hilti drill, etc. Inspected the “West Passage”; excavated almost the entire remaining fill, unfortunately exposing an immature rift at the end of a three-metre-long sloping passage, which continues below. Spent time reviewing best travel line arrangement for digger to operate, with least amount of effort in the small area. Installed new bolt belays for travel line. The east side of the South Rift appears to be assuming the vertical, the west side of the South Rift, just beyond the West passage, is assuming a more sloping development. It appears that depth will continue to increase, and, development will form beneath the west side of the South Rift. The fault along which the shaft is formed continues has resumed its development southward, extending beyond its recent limit by six metres. Noise from the streams entering the pipework, and falling down the North Shaft was thunderous. Ground water significant and increasing, cascading down the main shaft, drenching all. Ten filled kibbles await hauling. Recovered signal box, which CC took away to dry, renovate and repair. Generator not run; fuel tank a little over ½ full: No fuel on site. Lighting at -26m needs replacement. Departed for the St. Breckan’s Project.
Hours 6 (3278), Southend (2228), Kibbles 0 (6612), Nets 0 (928), Total lifts 7548
1st August St. Brecken’s Project
CC, PMcG, PC
15:00. Arrived to check the potential sink noted (31st July 2022), adjacent the flood channel; suspected today's heavy showers, since 10:30, likely to impact accessing the sink. Surprised to find no stream at all. The deep channel, previously noted, takes some water, but is some three metres above the main sink; will kept a note of it. Took the opportunity to install the survey datum on the bedrock of the sink; west side. The overflow channel was followed some four hundred metres north, turning west, to where the shallow, surface drainage channel encountered an increasing number of areas of exposed bedrock. Along its length, passing north side of the ringfort, are multiple small, potential sinks; none accessible. On occasion the channel, and supplemental gulleys in the rich dark soil, are difficult to negotiate, here too, are multiple, tiny sinks.
Back at the Bridge, 16:15, PC noted the upstream channel now had a small stream. Watching, within six minutes, the three-metre-wide stream rose some four inches. PC scampered down to the main sink along a less than ankle deep stream. Noting where the increasing stream sank; water entered the slot beneath the bedrock twelve minutes after first observations taken. Exiting, the stream was greater than welly depth and swiftly increasing.
NB. One inch of rainfall was recorded at Kilshanny between 10:30 and 16:30. Observations of the stream began 16:15. The stream entered the sink at 16:27. Quite an experience to watch such an increase of flow emerging from an oft dry rising. None of the given ITM's for the local sites are correct. Changed in torrential rain: to McDermott’s.
Main sink taking all of the stream, Photo: Pat Cronin
Awaiting your next log please. "Remember, if it's not written down it never happened"
Note: CMWI refers to the "Caves of Mid-West Ireland" published UBSS 2019