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 (3256), Southend (2206), Kibbles 30 (6552), Nets 0 (926), Total lifts 7483
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 (3266), Southend (2216), Kibbles 30 (6582), Nets 0 (926), Total lifts 7513
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.
Main Sink underwater. Photo: Pat Cronin
St, Brendans Rising. Photo: Pat Cronin
Flood Channel. Photo: Pat Cronin
East side of the bridge. Photo: Pat Cronin
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 (3275), Southend (2225), Kibbles 30 (6612), Nets 0 (926), Total lifts 7543
Entry to West Passage. Photo: Pat Cronin
Looking into the South Rift. Photo: Pat Cronin
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.
View West towards St. Brendans Rising, totally dry.
Photo: Pat Cronin
View East towards Main Sink, totally dry.
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.
Main sink taking all of the stream, 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 (3281), Southend (2231), Kibbles 0 (6612), Nets 0 (928), Total lifts 7543
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.
Note: CMWI refers to the "Caves of Mid-West Ireland" published UBSS 2019
8th August Considine’s (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
13:00. Cloud 5%: Wind SW, F2: Visibility >30Nm: Ground wet: Medium stream. The Plan: Dig. CC winching: PMcG digging: PC unloading and barrowing. Requested PMcG stop at the -14.5m staging, to assess passage of kibbles along a taughtened travel line, close to the RSJ, at -12m: adequate clearance confirmed. To -26.5m where a solid floor was exposed, approaching the South Rift, either wall of the rift is now showing vertical development, some form of shaft may develop within the original fault. Thirty kibbles and one net were raised. Spoil, a light brown coloured matrix, with cobbles and boulders. A maintenance session is required to sort minor issues. Generator a little over ½ full: No fuel on site.
Hours 9 (3290), Southend (2240), Kibbles 30 (6642), Nets 1 (927), Total lifts 7574
8th August St Brecken’s Project
16:45. Departed the dig, deciding to head over to the sink, establishing an accurate ITM map ref, (Irish Transverse Mercator) at the survey datum. Tested the GPSR against the recorded location of a Bench Mark. Later, on returning to the Hilux, took another test the north end of the east side of the bridge and a final one at the gates to the GAA Pitch. Went in search of rumoured sinks between Bridge and rising. Delighted at the exposed, rocky nature of the dry stream bed; surprized at the size and broken area the dry risings occupy. The landowner is a frail, elderly farmer, who has leased the fields to another, fortunately a pal of Emmett. Areas of course sand/gravels were noted. Rising C appears to have a small passage behind two massive boulders.
12th August St. Breckan’s Project
13:00. Cloudless, haze: Temp 33˚C: Ground drying: Visibility 20Nm: The Plan: Investigate the Dry river bed. Crossed the fields west of the GAA Pitch, joining the dry river bed, where left off 1st August: (ITM 514810 x 698881). Thick ground cover made walking difficult; walking poles required. Within fifty metres encountered a further section of bedrock, with broken area of exposed boulders. Dense ground cover continues for a further one hundred and twenty odd metres, where another section of bedrock and boulders occurred. Between these exposures narrow, deep gulleys in the rich, dark soil make walking hazardous, virtually invisible until the leg disappears. After two hundred and fifty metres the river bed turns westerly; in the left, (east), bank a narrow gulley, (choked), appears to be the possible site of Poulgowlaun, reportedly choked. Below this point bedrock exposure increases. For the next three hundred metres bedrock descends in a sequence to Aillnagroagh; a twenty odd metre high overhanging shale cliff. Minor seepages appear; water presence increases, the foliage overhangs the increasing river flow: opinion believes an adjacent overgrown channel would lead to St. Brendan’s Well. Stream flow large, near ITM 514530 x 698440. Wading calf deep, now necessary, regularly, in cold water. Remaining distance to St. Brendan’s Bridge, some hundred sixty metres. Flow rate significant. Walked the kilometre back to the trucks. Curious area: needs further research.
View SSE to ITM514620 x 698730 Photo: Pat Cronin
Cheg near ITM 514529 x 698711 Photo: Pat Cronin
Cheg near ITM 514680 x 698770 Photo: Pat Cronin
Cheg near ITM 514480 x 698580 Photo: Pat Cronin
14th August (1952) Lost Marcel Loubens
15th August Considines (South End)
13:00. Cloud 100%: Wind NW, F3: Visibility 20Nm: Ground wet: Medium stream. The Plan: Maintenance. Sciatica an issue; did not descend to replace lamp illuminating work area. Lifted two platform pallets and manoeuvred the two metre, by one metre, 200mm square, reinforcing mesh beneath; secured the two pieces to the scaffold grill, awaiting fabric cover. CC trimmed the foliage back, replaced the weather cover on the generator and replaced the underground signal box workings. Left CC to complete task, limped back to the truck.
Hours 4 (3294), Southend (2244), Kibbles 0 (6642), Nets 0 (927), Total lifts 7574
17th August St. Breckan’s Project /Guthrie’s Risings
EM, (Emmett McNamara), PC
17:30. Cloud 100%: Wind WSW, F3: Visibility 25Nm: Ground Dry-ish: Midges: Light rain shower. The Plan: conduct an aerial view of Guthrie’s Risings. Met at the GAA pitch. Waited twenty minutes, for the shower to pass; EM prepared his drone and flew it from the bridge to the Risings. Cloud and the light rain darkened the light-coloured boulders within the risings, seemingly reducing contrast between risings and foliage, displayed on the screen. Viewed northeast and north to look for ancient flood channels coming from Sliabh Eilbh. Next, a flight to the sink then along part of the flood channel. Awaiting the imagery to arrive.
19th August St. Breckan’s Project
Visited EM regarding drone imagery taken of the dry river bed and risings; alas issues incurred. So, EM revisited Guthrie’s Risings yesterday, (18th), and repeated the flight plans. A brief view of the footage appears of better contrast. EM will provide a memory stick; as the files are huge.
Reflecting on the area, (≈2500 m²), from which the risings erupt, believe the volume issuing denotes the area is an extensive collapse, obstructing significant subterranean flow. In low flow rate conditions, amalgamated volume, of among other sites, Cullauns I, II, III and Killeany Risings emerge from St. Brendan’s Well. Once flow exceeds the capacity to pass through the collapse, it surfaces, to flow along the normally dry river bed to the sink, (F3a). (See Pollaloughabo, Gort Lowlands). At the sink, once the surface flow exceeds the capacity of the sink, (F3a), it backs up. At this point, dependent on volume of flow, the depression fills. Witnessed as two metres deep, seeming the peak flow rate for the sink to swallow. Also witnessed, after heavy rainfall, the river overwhelming the sink, (F3a), (to at least three metres), to spill over the invert of the flood channel,at a depth of about one and a half metres, to flow down the meandering, one-kilometre channel to St. Brendan’s Bridge. Evidence of regular flooding is present throughout the river channel to St. Brendan’s Bridge. In conversation with Mary Collins, she regularly observes flood conditions beneath St. Brendan’s Bridge. Intend install system to measure mean flow rates at differing depths near the bridge.
Revisited EM, requesting permission be obtained from the presently unknown owner of the sink, to begin digging at the sink to assess the circumstances of the choke deposits before winter rains are upon us.
22nd August Considines (South End)
CC, PMcG & PC
13:00. Cloud 100%, base 500ft: Wind SW, F3/4: Visibility <5Nm: Ground damp: Medium stream. The Plan: Dig. PMcG digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. The dig has progressed into the confines of the South Rift, some 0.75m wide, tapering some five metres to the south, to nothing. A bedding in the East Wall has developed a vertical face, the West Wall, (side), undercutting slowly toward the southwest. The area still descending, appearing to form a shaft, of sorts; the reduced floor area means depth is swiftly achieved, inflicting associated issues on the digger sending kibbles to surface. The constricted nature of the site places increased workload on the digger, a second person here would help enormously; circumstances begin to suggest the Team may require a minimum of four to dig, or adjust normal practice and dig in two stages. Twenty-six kibbles were raised, a cracking effort by a well bolloxed PMcG. Among the clays the grey form appeared once again, although a brief appearance. Large boulders, (25kg), still appearing. Generator a little over ¼ full: fuel PC, in site. Maintenance tasks arise, as does a survey trip.
Hours 9 (3303), Southend (2253), Kibbles 26 (6668), Nets 0 (927), Total lifts 7600
26th August St. Breckan’s Project
18:00. Cloud 80%: Wind WNW, F3: Visibility 30Nm: Ground damp. The Plan: complete levelling between GAA pitch and F3a sink, via Bench Mark on bridge. Arrived early to choose spot and set up level, realizing that CC would be unable to park whilst level was set up. Searched for Bench Mark, shown on the southeast end of the bridge: 25” OS map. Found a small, protruding stone in the place indicated by the OS map; decided to use it as a datum, being suitably positioned, checked its level with the road which was just a little below the tarmac surface; to be expected since the survey of the 1830s, or so. Took back-sight to goal post datum and foresight to Bench Mark. Setting up level position two CC arrived. Fun and games taking the foresight at the sink datum, CC needing resort to using a piece of tube to lengthen the staff. Just finished when accosted by Mort McInerney, wondering what was going on these many weeks. Long chat; invited to his place for further local information. Left just as midges were getting hungry.
Bench Mark: 110.21m, (361.6ft).
Sink datum, (F3a): 105.84m, (347.26ft).
28th August Poulanionain
John Browne, PC
11:00. Cloud 80%: Wind E, F2: Visibility 30Nm: Ground damp. The Plan: deliver kibbles to JB and look at the old dig beyond the Main chamber; the work of Jim Shannon, Conor McGrath and Ray Murphy; to name but three. Mike Simms recently observed scalloping in the area suggests significant water flow issuing from the south. In the shallow, pool of water, created (?) since removal of clay for pottery production, a submerged space is visible, below the end wall. Using a six-metre length of pipe, a distance of three metres was probed, the end half a metre, felt as soft silt. The space width approximately a metre and a half. Dig area width some two metres, some eight metres long and 0.7m to 1.5m high. Stratigraphic evidence suggests significant, powerful flow periods, and significant deposition periods. Agreed to assist JB investigate the potential: 18:30 next Thursday.
29th August Considines (South End)
13:00. Cloud 60%: Wind SW, F3/4: Visibility 30Nm: Ground damp: Small stream. The Plan: Dig. PMcG digging: PC winching, unloading and barrowing. CC’s availability today uncertain. Lowered the spare timber ladder and eight-foot x six-inch piece of plywood, to sit in the line of the ladder, to act as a shoot, along which the kibble might proceed; appears to work, up to a point. PMcG lowered the confined area further, until knackered; ideally, the area requires two to progress. From these constricted conditions sixteen kibbles were raised; quite the feat. Two stage digging is the apparent answer.Generator almost empty: fuel on site.
Hours 6 (3309), Southend (2259), Kibbles 16 (6684), Nets 0 (927), Total lifts 7616
31st August (2008) Lost Tony (J Rat) Jarratt
1st September Poulanionain
JB, HB, CC, PC
18:30. Cloud 75%: Wind NW, F2: Visibility 30Nm: Ground dry. The Plan: assist JB with what lay beyond the pool. Prior to trip spoke with PMcG of his experience digging this area. He related that some two or three small chambers were reached, via low (wet?) crawls. Perhaps, some fifty feet in total length: (it was quite a while ago). Installed small pump; over an hour watched the water level fall slowly, with accompanying gurgles, as small air pockets opened. From in the pool a different viewpoint of sediment stratigraphy is presented. An even lain, fine grey clay, at least fourteen inches in depth is beneath the brown clay, itself some two feet deep below the trench to the pool. Helen Browne joined the group as the ceiling of the flooded passage was revealed: stopped pump and backed in to chest. Passage at least five feet wide, and a foot high; the toecap of the welly feeling the soft silt floor, no sense of a firm floor. CC took photos.
3rd September Sink F3a, (St. Breckan’s Project)
15:00. Cloud 100%, base 500ft: Wind SW, F3: Heavy showers: Visibility 5Nm: Ground damp. No water flowing. The Plan: measure bridge to calculate river flow. Measurements taken with laser. Bridge tunnel length, seven (7m), metres. Width five (5m), metres. Averaged height to where arch begins, from averaged river bed surface (1.87m), one point eight seven metres. Averaged height above wall, at western end of bridge arch (1.2m), one point two metres. Averaged height of wall (≈0.7), zero-point seven metre. River bed surface to apex of arch (3.06m), three point zero six of a metre. Bridge length 7m, width 5m, height of where arch begins 1.87m; on site estimates of observed flow may be drawn from these measurements. Checked tunnel, diagonally, equal at (8.5m), eight point five metres. Intend to secure a depth gauge asap. 16:00. Heavy showers arrived: inspected the approach to the sink. The boulder strewn area begins some eight metres before the sink, channel width averaging some two metres. A small opening was found on the south, left side, among bedrock, obscured by boulders. Initial digging, clearing boulders, would be visible by observant road users. However, once a boulder, or spoil pile, wall height is achieved of around a half metre, most operations would be obscured.
Scrutinized the area of the overflow channel invert; a reduction of accumulated soil/humus appears possible, to a depth of at least a metre. Within some twenty metres this depth would look to match that area, which is riven with smaller, narrow channels, some barely 0.3m wide. Need construct a profile from sink datum to overflow invert and down existing overflow channel, as far a practicable.
4th September St. Breckan’s Project
Cloud 85%: Wind SW, F5/6: Visibility 30Nm: Ground damp. The Plan: install measuring gauge. Found the river all but level with the arch of the bridge; abandoned plan. Noted water level had already dropped some eight inches, following today’s, earlier, apparent peak flow. Which reached the joint of the top quoin and the first dress stone of the arch. Visited the overflow channel, finding water depth an average of 0.2m. The previously noted sink/gulley, six metres west of the overflow channel, was taking a substantial, metre deep stream, which sank into two holes. Believe this sink to be F3b, though F3b’s recorded map ref does place it a hundred and twenty metres to the NW, in the GAA pitch . Took some photos and chanced making a movie. Murt McInerney appeared, whilst chatting saw water level noticeably falling, scampered back to the overflow channel, to find the river had ceased flowing over the invert into the overflow channel; the identified part of the bridge stonework will offer useful river flow reference for this fact. Over the ninety minutes, water level dropped about, maybe...0.15m (six inches).
Sink (F3b) centre of image
View east from bridge showing river level from rising
Water levels during todays visit
View showing invert of overflow channel
Showing water level equalling invert level
5th September Considines (South End)
13:00. Cloud 10%: Wind ESE, F6/8: Visibility 20Nm: Ground dry-ish: Medium stream. The Plan: assessment/surveying. CC surface support: PC below. PMcG had been busy. The base of the shaft, where it forms what may be described as a rugged area, is developing downward, pursuing the fault. Natural features show that water drains to this point. Cleared some debris from the top of the large “shelf” projecting from the west side. The roof of this bedding, above the “Shelf” shows water action flowing over the loosely compacted debris. A developing, vertical joint, similar to what developed into “Paul’s Pot” is present on the west side, coming down to the area of the “Shelf”. Its width at its present, visible bottom is around 150mm, this may increase. The crow bar can be pushed beneath the “Shelf”, suggesting a loose filled cavity beneath; the area need be dug around and cleared to confirm; removal of this “Shelf”, if not a boulder could be by snapper. Progress will now require two persons, as the area is constricted, and exhausting for one; the thirty kibble sessions will become but a memory. The “Western Passage” area can be utilized to store kibbles, prior to dispatch to surface. Forgot the 12mm drill bit, so needed rearrange the travel line belay by chipping a hole in a thin shelf, and the existing western bolt; believe this will work for the interim. Extended the survey datum, adjacent the climb, to -25.5m. Set up the laser and extended this depth level through the “Gulley” to a datum at the south end of the “Gulley” and a third in the South Rift; all at -25.5m. Completed survey, the mud making shite of writing in the survey book. Took a depth to the “Shelf”, (-27.5m); this area does not appear similar to the North End, or the “Scoop”. Where a sudden reduction in passage size was swift and final: remain optimistic. Generator ½ full: CC fuel: fuel on site. Maintenance required.
Hours 5 (3314), Southend (2264), Kibbles 0 (6684), Nets 0 (927), Total lifts 7616
7th September St. Breckan’s Project
Cloud 70%: Wind E, F3/4: Visibility 30Nm: Ground dry-ish. The Plan: use real Bench Mark to correct heights. Within minutes of setting up, came under observation from a van, which stopped and parked up some hundred metres away; ignored, got on with task. Wetted the Sapper’s mark hoping make it clearer in the photo; the arrow cut to indicate the peak of the sloping coping stone, the actual datum point. Height difference is plus 0.72m. Approached after ten minutes by a local, after a pleasant chat jumped in the Hilux; MH enthusiastically directing PC to a “sink hole”. Throughout the next two hours enjoyed the delightful company of One, Michael Hogan who provided invaluable data on ancient and modern flooding events. A mine of information, among which, who owned what land; bliss when the area where the F3a sink is located confirmed as Coillte. Deeper joy when guided to another three unrecorded sinks: alas no GPSR. Fortunately, the field where the main sinks are is, is owned by a pal, so access should not be an issue. Dropped MH back, exchanged phone numbers; he’s available to play further. Cracking. Corrected datums are: Sink F3a 106.56m OD. Ground level, southern goal mouth, 109.35m OD.
Bench mark at junction of tape and white rod
8th September Lost Queen Elizabeth II.
8th September Prince Charles accedes the throne of England as King Charles III
9th September Considines Cave (South End).
CC, PMcG, PC
13:00. Cloud 90%: Wind NW, F3/4: Visibility 15Nm: Ground dry-ish: Medium stream. The Plan: Dig. CC winching: PMcG and PC digging. Both descended to dig the confined area; that is the physical extent of the South Rift. Took turns clearing the floor, following the rift floor down, vertically. Removing kibbles from this awkward area was accomplished by using short hauls by Senior winchman CC. This allowed the kibbles to be raised to -25m, and stacked with in “The Gulley”, prior to raising to surface: the available fourteen kibbles were filled, with clay and cobbles. Digging forward in the rift, passed the "Shelf" to expose a drain hole in the floor, some 0.15m diameter, heading south, down through the compacted rift debris, at an angle of around 40˚. A little further forward, a very narrow rift heading west was encountered, with washed, silt floor. The projecting shelf does indeed appear to taper under itself, how far will be likely exposed next session, if by much, its removal will swiftly follow. As the shelf extended south, the height of the bedding increases; quite how much need to be exposed. PC surfaced to unload, barrow and dispose of the spoil; meanwhile, unknown to the others, PMcG continued to dig the confined area; a seriously difficult, solo task. Lifted fifteen kibbles before close of play; eight kibbles await lifting. Depth now -28m. Need see if the westward heading rift does just that and whether its size will allow excavation operations. Generator a little over ¼ full: fuel on site. Maintenance required. Hours 9 (3323), Southend (2273), Kibbles 15 (6699), Nets 0 (927), Total lifts 7631
11th September St. Breckan’s Project
James Owens, PC
10:00. Cloud 100%, base 900ft: Wind SE, F2/3: Showers; light rain, increasing, since 04:00: Visibility 20Nm: Ground wet: The Plan: contacted by JO, who wanted guidance and information on cave entrance locations. Met up at McDermotts. JO is an enthusiastic individual; visited Polldubh Middle and South openings first, then Cullaun II. En-route outlined flooding awareness. At both Polldubh entrances took GPSR readings, to once again attempt improve on previous map reference accuracy, taken beneath the dense forestry canopy. To Owentoberlea Swallet, the sink adjacent the bridge, to assess volume of stream in relation to sink F3a, (some two kilometres distant). Appearing, some 0.7m deep, it disappeared swiftly. The channel, downstream the Bridge, showed signs of recent water flow. To sink, (F3a), adjacent the GAA pitch; no stream present. Need check with CC of rainfall last night. Long chat with E McNamara, who showed locations of Poultaloons, which, as a child, he and others were instructed to keep clear of debris, to reduce local flooding issues; much more, enlightening information exchanged. JO intends to return to Clare, as soon as practicable, to expand personal caving experience, and perhaps assist dig.
Poultaloon = "Hole in the ground".
Rainfall night of 10th/11th 1.25inches. Cheg Chester.
12th September Considine's Cave (South End).
CC, PMcG, PC
13:00. Cloud 60%: Wind NE, F2/3: Visibility 30Nm: Ground wet: Medium stream. The Plan: Dig. CC winching: PMcG and PC digging. Descended, intending clear the entrance to rift seen developing westward at between -27.5m and -28m; at the junction of the South Rift. Again, slow progress, due to the confined location. Lowered the South Rift floor, exposing the lower solid part of “The Shelf”; the floor the normal matrix of clays and cobbles in the 0.3m wide rift. Began to open the West Rift, maneuvering around the awkward upturned corner of “The Shelf”; this “Prow” shape needs removing to improve access. Took turns digging out an interesting stratigraphy, a superb mixture of coloured clays and gravels that were deposited in the lower part of the short section, at the start of the west bedding; after which seemed to emerge a curious, faint, almost acrid odour, (possibly some form of decomposition?). One bright coloured clay was a yellow/cream, laying upon a course gravel: a small amount of grey clay reappeared, this is remarkably similar to that seen in Pol-an-Ionian. Used CC to winch several kibbles up onto the pile already in “The Gulley”, for future removal. As the West Bedding was cleared, its size did increase, a little; potentially enough to admit a Plumbers chest. Taking turns, as progress was made the floor of the rift at the beginning of the West Bedding was deepened to facilitate access; as the working face had reached some two metres in front. Before work commenced, it could be seen that some three metres ahead, the rift appeared larger; slightly, and appears to have a subtle slope away to the west. This is a third, albeit minor, development in the area of -26m, heading toward a common area off to the west. Efficiency was improved by backpacking some of the clay spoil into a small rift. Likewise, a small rift in the east wall was packed with cobbles. A seemingly difficult situation; the shape of the shaft in this area does not lend itself to the previous, relative ease of filling and sending kibbles to surface. The next session will remove “The Prow”, deploy a rake along the Bedding and remove all fourteen kibbles. Surfaced, lifted one kibble, so as to recover deployed hauling line, tipping the scale at 6700 kibbles raised from the South End: well shagged out. Generator a little over ½ full: no fuel on site. Maintenance required.
Hours 7 (3330), Southend (2280), Kibbles 1 (6700), Nets 0 (927), Total lifts 7632
14th September Faunarooska
Rachel Smith, Martyn Farr, PC
12:30. Cloud 80%: Wind NE, F2: Visibility 30Nm: Ground damp: Stream small. The Plan: Photography. Previous high-water conditions inhibited RS and MF obtaining good results; hence this repeat trip. Steady trip carrying equipment, two nice sites identified; of which PC has little memory of them or their beauty. The second, larger grotto is quite superb. Back home checked the excellent survey in Caves of Northwest Clare, (1968?); the larger grotto appears some two hundred feet upstream of the wet pitch. Slow trip out: surfaced 17:00. Sense that numerous, muttering body parts will object loudly later on.
15th September Ballymaglancy Cave, Cong.
Una Donoghue, Eoghan Mullan, RS, MF, PC
18:00. Cloud 40% Wind N, F2: Visibility 20Nm: Ground dry: Stream low. The Plan: photography. Met up with the others at the large boulder on the roadside, at a driveway junction: swiftly underground. Dark Shamrock expeditions previously visited here, June 2002; supporting MF to dive the terminal sump. As MF successfully passed the sump, emerging from the resurgence pool, PC also surfaced having dug through a few boulders, to create a new entrance/exit. MF and PC had forgotten the wonderful content of the place: formations and sculpting, delightful. There appear differing beds of Limestone; based on their subtle colour differences and severity of water worn affect in each. Much photography conducted along this majestic streamway, commencing at the waterfall. Retracing route to surface, more images taken. Entered 18:20, surfaced 22:30, departed 23:00, Doolin 01:00. Cracking trip.
17th September Cullaun II
MF, RS, PMcG, PC
Cloud 10%: Wind NW, F2: Visibility 20NM, haze: Ground wet: Stream very small: The Plan: Photography. MF wanted to improve on previous images taken last October: very high-water conditions. Pleasant amble scrutinizing the place; a fine opportunity to really enjoy the less noticed formations: helictites particularly abound. MF checked the area of Pool Chamber search for the missing light, mislaid last October; no luck. Back home encountered JW, his family, Puk Oly and Adam; the new generation of cave divers. A very nice exchange of information.
18th September Cappagh Mine, Cappagh Townland, Clare.
Sharon Parr, CC, PC
11:00. Cloud 95%: Wind S, F1: Visibility 30Nm: Ground damp: The Plan: Initial visit to assess an unrecorded industrial archaeological site. Arranged to meet SP, on site: permission kindly granted to PC by the landowner after a previous exchange of correspondence. SP guided to the site, involving a mile walk through an array of fields and habitats. The mine is located at the upper end of the valley, on its northern side; at an elevation of 124m.
The mine is situated at centre, this side of the far ridge, just below the horizon formed by the near ridge
From its entrance, what appears to be a drystone constructed causeway, descends toward the floor of the valley, at some 30˚. The surface of the “causeway” an untidy assemblage of loose limestone pieces. The mine is driven on a vertical vein; obvious mineralization is limited. Using a magnifying glass, CC identified Malachite, Chalcocite, Iron Pyrites, all within a quartz matrix are present on the east wall of the lower adit. The mine consists of two very short levels, five metres, or so long, the upper level driven directly above the lower. Within, mineralization is sparce. In the lower level two bore holes are present, each shallow; deepest perhaps 0.1m. Each appear slightly off circular, of minor triangular appearance, suggesting hand boring. On the far side of the valley, and above the mine, on the visible summit, there appears to be a continuation of the fracture, seen at the mine entrance. Whilst CC and SP examined the spoil area, PC moved over to examine the drystone building some sixty metres west of the mine, at much the same elevation, on a flat area of the steep mountainside. SP explained she had found a system of small fields, beneath the present canopy of Hazel etc. obscured from view, from this promontory. This usage may point to contemporary tillage by the miner’s, or of the building’s subsequent takeover as a domestic dwelling.
The entrance with Pat & Sharon posing for scale.
Showing the west wall of the 'causway' Photo: PC
Forefield of lower adit. Photo: CC
Shothole in forefield of lower adit. Photo: CC
The building is orientated North-South, constructed of well laid, drystone limestone; the size of stones varies from large, possibly glacial erratics at its corners, to thin bedding blocks. Its outside dimensions are approximately seven by four metres. The walls are some 0.65m thick. There is a single window in the south gable, the single door is off centre of the eastern wall. Inside the remains of a drystone party wall, divides the interior into two distinct rooms, of a sixty/forty percentage of floor space; the larger room, the northern part of the building. There is no architectural evidence of a fireplace or chimney. Building 531275 x 701850. Mine 531330 x 701860.
South face of building. Photo: PC
Rough sketch of building by PC
Malachite. Photo: Sharon Parr
Chalcocite (black metallic) amongst quartz. Photo: CC
19th September Considine's Cave (South End).
CC, PMcG, PC
13:00. Cloud 60%: Wind NW, F2: Visibility 35Nm: Ground damp: Tiny stream. The Plan: Dig. CC winching: PMcG and PC digging. PC descended, with drill to attack the horn projecting from “The Shelf”, three 20mm holes were bored and a Gad inserted in each, in turn. Using a short-handled sledge, horn eventually removed. Fairly shagged, PC returned to surface to unload and barrow. Having lifted eight kibbles, PMcG called for PC to descend; approaching the South Rift, previously floored with gravels, clays and cobbles, PMcG proudly pointed to a two-metre-deep hole. Removing the floor, PMcG had been presented with this gap. A chert bed has been encountered, the narrow gap appears to have once been the calcite/quartz vein, forming the fault. Called for the sledge to be lowered back down to the dig. The pair then set about smashing off the numerous projections. Various contortions assessed that the floor of the area below appears to be a bedding development going off east and westward. More chiseling opened the gap further; PMcG made an unsuccessful attempt to squeeze down; a small buttress needs removing. From the adjacent -25.5m datum, the bottom of this rift, the bedding, is estimated as -29m. Below the chert bed either wall of the South Rift is fluted, many of the smaller projections were knocked off. Reflecting on the confined area, and potential phaffing about, will likely deploy a 110v hammer action power tool, to not only chain drill the larger, offending protrusions, but also have the ability chisel them off without recourse to swinging a sledge: a lengthy task, but achievable as not batteries involved. A pity The Farr departed for Wales midday, the dark, beckoning hole in the base of the South Rift would make a superb image. PMcG suggests a camera be lowered down into the void below to assess the areas out of sight, prior to further commitment; a sound idea. PC well knackered on surfacing. Before departure replaced the lower section of hose pipe with a longer piece, this will allow it to reach the new slot and allow the hose to be routed so as to avoid future entanglements with the Hauling Line. Will take camera along next session, and also make a sketch. Generator a little over ½ full: PMcG Fuel: no fuel on site. Maintenance required.
Hours 10 (3340), Southend (2290), Kibbles 8 (6708), Nets 0 (927), Total lifts 7640
21st – 22nd September Cheg’s rain gauge, Kilshanny.
Rainfall, (24hrs), recorded as forty-four millimetres (44mm); 1.75 inches. PC awoken by increasing rainfall; heaviest period appearing between 04:30/05:00.
09:30, (22nd). Phone call from CC informing of volume. Hope to visit F3a sink, part of St. Breckan’s Project, and possibly the larger of the recently recorded upstream sinks.
22nd September St Breckan’s Project
Martin Becket, Alison Becket, PC
13:00. Cloud 60%: Wind NW, F3/4: Visibility 10Nm: Ground wet: The Plan: inspect flow at F3a and adjacent overflow channel. Delighted to meet up with MB and AB, after such a long time. As requested, gave them a tour of the dig, then sped away to F3a sink. Before departure noted the cistern is empty, suspect mud etc. has compromised the water spray gun below; used plastic bag to seal cistern outlet.
15:00. Rainfall had had a significant effect at F3a; evidence of peak water flow noted at the upstream side of the bridge, the water mark sheltered from evaporation by the sun. The noted level just below overflow channel invert; a good flow disappearing into the smaller, adjacent, elevated sink, F3b.
26th September Considines Cave (South End).
CC, PMcG, PC
13:00. Cloud 90%: Wind NW, F4, gusting F6: Visibility <20Nm: Ground damp: Tiny stream. The Plan: deploy camera down the rift. CC winching: PMcG below: PC unloading and barrowing. PC secured a small video camera and light to a broom handle, lowered to PMcG who managed to insert himself into the South Rift, above the new opening. In this awkward position PMcG lowered and rotated the camera. The small screen did not lend itself to review on site, being partially obscured by numerous cable ties, so recovered and sent to surface. Further to the focused digging the collection of filled kibbles were sent to surface, as was the debris previously, temporarily dumped in the West Passage. Clay smeared walls were washed, exposing the superb dark grey limestone; doing so means potential deployment of power tools, will not be so covered in crud. Viewed from above there previously appeared to be a bedding, perhaps a foot high, (0.3m); wishful thinking? Screened, the video is somewhat difficult to interpret. Unfortunately a bedding appears absent; bugger, bugger, bugger. Will let CC and PMcG review video. Believe it’s worth excavating the solid rock to enlarge rift, to double check the situation. Generator a little over ½ full: no fuel on site. Maintenance required.
Hours 7 (3347), Southend (2297), Kibbles 22 (6730), Nets 0 (927), Total lifts 7662
28th September St. Breckan’s Project.
18:15. Cloud 75%: Wind NW, F2: Visibility 30Nm: Ground damp: River; clear and small. The Plan: probe the sink. Found the river flowing, swiftly; conservatively estimated water 0.3m deep, some five metres upstream the bridge. Tried to measure speed, by dropping sticks into the flow; none emerged from the west side of the bridge. Found the small drystone stock wall, long since built across the west side the bridge, was exposed by half its height therefore collecting all items thrown in. Repeated experiment, throwing items further upstream, timing them wash along an estimated distance of five metres. These calc’s, based on estimated depth of water; the river three metres wide, (ignoring that obscured in the water weed), suggests a flow of between 0.7m³ and 0.9m³/second. At the sink, found the water level some 0.4m below the survey datum. The approaching winter is manifest as much of the foliage; nettles, is dying back. Facing the sink, viewing west; to the right is a hole taking something like 40% the extant river. To the left, in the corner, a similar volume disappears. The remainder appears to pass beneath the bedrock on which the survey datum is fixed. Thrashing through the nettles, above the corner sink, found a gulley, containing evidence of sinking water; three x 150Kg boulders have peeled off the west wall and sit in this gulley. At its upper end, a hole is present, also showing evidence of flow. Working along this shallow gulley, back to the sink, found it is in fact a choked rift, starting where the right-hand river sink is located. Above and slightly right, within the metre high nettles is another upper hole/sink, showing signs of flow. It seems politic, perhaps a more surgical act, to dig the rift, rather than remove the boulders in the depression. As the river disappeared, thought any cave entered here will require far more caution than that of the Coolagh River Cave.
Water from Guthrie's Risings looking north east
Looking west to F3a sink