2nd July Coolagh River Cave, (B9a) – St. Breckan’s Project, (F3a)
14:30. Cloud 90%: Wind W, F4: Visibility 30Nm: Ground wet: Rain gauge 2mm. The Plan: check both sites. Caherconnell/ Galway University contract to run another two weeks; took the opportunity to visit. PV has not, as yet, completed levelling the depression up the edge of the pipe. At F3a, river level 0.5m, the previous, partly opened rift has evidence of taking a lot of water; worth digging this spot further.
8th July Poulfantaiseach
PMcG & PC
12:00, Cloud 90%: Wind SW, F2: Visibility 25Nm: Ground wet: Rain gauge 3mm. The Plan: complete the fencing; secure the site. PMcG’s limited availability, meant fitting in this visit; PMcG away until around the end of next week. Laden with more fence posts and wire, took all up to the dig. Installed several more posts around the depression and wired the perimeter, improving on the extant, aged fencing. Minor tasks required to finish, complete the stile, secure fencing to corner stay. Returning to the Hilux, fitted several posts to the partially collapsed line of electric fencing; to show willing. Into the Irish Arms for a swift one.
24th July Poulfantaiseach
16:00. Cloud 90%: Wind W, F2/3: Visibility 20Nm: Ground damp: Flies: Rain Guage 49mm, (unread since the morning of the 18th July). The Plan: secure the stile. Carried drill, timber and Galv-band. Dozens of flies took shelter from the wind in the lee of the poor sod trudging uphill. Worse in the depression. Secured the horizontal piece of the stile and used the metal strip, Galv-band to secure the corner fence post to a ground anchor. Didn’t hang about. Ready to dig.
29th July Sliabh Eilbhe Project
CC and PC
14:00. Cloud 100%; heavy showers: Wind W, F7: Visibility <10Nm: Ground wet: Rain Gauge 11mm: The Plan: obtain ITM for Poulfantaiseach and attempt water trace between Halliday’s Hole and Pluais Gabhar. Made a solution of 100grams of Green Fluorescein and three litres of water. Prior to deployment, visited Poulfantaiseach, recorded its ITM, standing on the west side of the centre of the rift; ITM 514520 x 705060. Back to Halliday's Hole, introduced the dye into a surprisingly small stream, into the small pool directly beneath the stream; (14:42). Retreated to Pluais Gabhar, some hundred metres away, and fifteen metres lower. Expected to see the dye clearly, and swiftly, not so. After an hour, nothing. Visited the pool in the base of the excavated rift, nothing there either. Muddied the water, no flow observed, though stream flow audible beyond the stall in the rift, and from upstream, from the surface hole, in the depression below which the stream is visible. To avoid hearing flow from that source, CC sat in the hole to stem any sound emitted. Should have prepared detectors, but, thought to swiftly pursue this task, following recent rainfall. Have three hundred grams of fluorescein remaining; will also buy some red to assist the tracing. The stream seen in Pluais Gabhar depression appeared of a larger volume than that seen earlier in Halliday's. Have recently began to suspect the stream appearing to sink in the muddy hollow, MQ00, adjacent the boundary, is the one flowing to Pluais Gabhar, rather than that from Halliday's? Need to sort the entrance rift in Poulballyelly to install detectors in the inlet. Need to close down Considine's.
23rd August Coolagh River Cave (entrance B9a).
JC and PC
11:45. Cloud 30%: Wind S, F2: Visibility 25Nm: Ground wet: Rain gauge 9mm. The Plan: install and secure ladder. Made use of JC’s supervising experience. Carried a pile of kit over to the entrance; the back filling, to be conducted by PV, not completed, yet. Cleared clay deposit from the protruding limestone. Set ladder directly onto the limestone, a secure base. Drilled both the ladder and pipe, used 16mm galvanized bolts to secure ladder to pipe. JC assistance immensely useful , able to hand down tools etc. Without an extra pair of hands, an awkward, solo, task; even so the job took two hours. Water levels today at least a metre lower than previous visit. Entrance pipe and access now completed; PV intends erect a fence around the pipe. To the Irish Arms; Soup, Guinness and pints of Miwadi, good grief. RA, Thomo, Gill and Judd arrive tomorrow, yippee!
Ladder below collar to facilitate potential future cover
Base of pipework, stream running top left to bottom right
View of bolt location securing ladder
James cobbett, Engineer, in a rare photo of him not sitting down
29th August Souterrain Project, Quarry, (CL010-213---), Fahee North
JC & PC
14:00. Cloud 80%: Wind NW, F4: Visibility 25Nm: Rain Gauge 0mm: Ground Karst. The Plan: Examine hewn grave slabs. Shown the site by Nick Geh, 21st June 2023. Could only find the two closest the house; the raised grave slab eluded the search. The rushed visit meant forgot several items required to accurately survey the slabs. Three sites were recorded, and need more work.
Grave slab (1). ITM 528870 x 699248: Length 2.45, Width 1.2m, Depth ≈0.13m: ( One tonne).
Grave slab (2). ITM 528877 x 699255; Length 2.07m, Width 1m, Depth ≈0.15m: (0.83 tonne).
Slab excavation site, (potential), ITM 528840 x699278, an estimated area of 15m².
These two slabs are some ten metres apart; NE/SW bearing between 226°/046°. The slab, closest the house is thirty metres away, bearing 235°/055°. Both are at an altitude of ≈120m.
Could not find the slab raised on blocks nor the O’Brien slab: need contact NG. Found three areas, adjacent exposed bedding of a depth consistent with the two slabs. They appear to be the dressing areas of the slabs before transportation. Such industry may be applied, in principle, to the production of souterrain lintels. Photos taken.
Grave slab ready for inscription Tempaill Cronan
Grave slab dressing area Tempaill Cronan
2nd September Poulfantaiseach
PMcG & PC
12:30. Cloud 100%, cloud base ≈400ft: Wind W, F1:Visibility 50m: Rain Gauge 8mm: The Plan: Dig. Carried up a plastic pallet, replacement spade and haul rope. PC climbed down to clear the vegetable collapse, and dig into the clays beneath. Steady progress lowered the floor some two feet, (600mm), into grey clay below. PMcG used the small six inch diameter kibble; swifter and easier to lift. Pieces of hard shale were regularly encountered as a channel was dug in the clay to convey water from two inlets into the eastern rift. This will allow for drier conditions digging into the western bedding. Base of the shaft is six metres below the moorland. Storage capacity remains for spoil behind the temporary shoring. Until the base of the shaft is cleared, and better understood, this shoring will suffice. Need sort a frame for the pallet. Found MQ has installed an electric fence. Into McDermotts.
4 hours (11)
4th September Poulfantaiseach
13:30. Cloud 5%: Wind ENE, F4:Visibility >30Nm: Rain Gauge 0mm: The Plan: Dig. PC to digging, PMcG hauling. Careful study of the base of the rift infill, extending some 0.6mm below the shoring. A lower shoring stemple would require a western wall to affix to. Began to clear the debris in the west bedding, (?), area. Noted a spiders web dancing in an emerging breeze. Pushed head into the area to further note a chill draught. Steady progress cleared the approach of the rift looked down into, 6th January 2021. The clearance exposed a steep slope, of exposed shale pieces and clay debris. Viewed from this oblique angle a void, about one metre diameter was visible. A little stunned, delightedly informed PMcG. Continued to clear the approach. Found a large boulder some 90kgs. Perched over the open rift; exposed it. With PMcG managed to roll it back into the surface rift, placing it in the cavity on the east side. At one point some fifty kilos of humic/clay material slumped, burying PC’s foot. Once cleared and packed to better see the next task, noted solid rock on several sides; sense the presence of adjacent narrow rifts, filled with clays. Issues regarding further digging, are what to do about the temporary shoring. Galvanized scaffolding backed by plastic pallets, to support the present spoil is one idea. Problem is accessing the cavity below will require digging the floor adjacent the present shoring to get to the wider section of the rift at a lower level, perhaps as much as two metres. Another session will provide a better idea of the area at the very top of the approach rift.
4 Hours (15)
11th September Poulfantaiseach
13:00. Cloud 100%, base 900ft: Wind N, F2:Visibility 5Nm: Rain Gauge 4mm: Ground wet: The Plan: Dig. Carried two more pieces of narrow plywood up. Descended to assess permanent shoring options. Staring at the base of the temporary shoring, decided that it might be possible to install two lateral stemples across the lower area, just beneath the open bedding area, and build up a new face of shoring in front of the existing. Potentially meaning no need to remove the spoil stored behind temporary shoring. To check the assessment dug down, looking for solid rock, for a second stemple position, at a depth of some 0.25m found the walls forming the intersection of the north/south – east/west rifts; continued to dig. PMcG patiently hauled the porridge, depositing it into the spoil area. Steadily removed the floor of liquefied mud, frustratingly encountering hard pieces of shale and increasingly larger lumps of limestone. PMcG drew attention to the liquefied spoil coming close to the top of the shoring. Continued until brim full, attempting to squeeze more in, by stacking/pouring it up the sides. Called PMcG to review progress, the collection of jammed boulders/flagstones in the approach rift removed. Revealing the rift did indeed widen as it descended. With PMcG stacking stones/shale pieces behind the stone pile in the north end of the entrance rift, continued to lower the floor. After five hours between them, had managed to clear enough spoil for a Plumber’s chest to fit through: PMcG given the honour of first man. PC remained on watch, in case more slumping occurred of the exposed clay face. Whilst inside PMcG excavated back toward the entrance, stacking spoil in an alcove in the new stuff. It is a large squeeze…
Inside the rift heads initially south, after several metres turning sharply west. The upper part of this rift is too tight to negotiate, as is the middle bit. At the first bend, the lower, streamway has a choke of several boulders, these can be removed, stacking in a small alcove above. The way on will be in the stream. From the vantage point the streamway seems to be in a bedding. By end of play, had lowered the rift floor, at the point of breakthrough, almost two metres. Draught cold, and constant. A lot of spoil was shifted; a dam cracking session.
10 hours (28)
18th September Poulfantaiseach
CC, PMcG, PC
13:00. Cloud 100%, showers: Wind SW, F4:Visibility 25Nm: Rain Gauge 3mm: Ground wet: The Plan: Dig. Met at the Cross, ferried team to the ruin. Bumped into MQ, informed him the photographs were framed and ready. Tempered desire with caution of the temporary shoring. First investigated where to place two permanent stemples near the base of the extant shoring; assessed and measured. Asked CC to monitor the shoring whilst below removing the boulders, previously seen from above. Took along a crow bar and eight pound sledge. At the pinch, at the second corner, PC stuck. Exited, and swapped places; PMcG sailed through, into the next section. The floor some metre or so lower, another half metre below this, the beginning of what appeared a bedding, with the narrow entrance joint meandering above it. Used the sledge to knock of a couple of lumps, but still no joy with the offending Lump, PC remained at this spot. The boulders in the floor were slowly exposed, as PMcG handed up pieces of shale and other lumps of rock for PC to stack in places various, the slurry running away. The first boulder released was 75kgs, from the elevated vantage point PC suggested digging a hollow behind it, and roll it in. Other boulders exposed were large, irregular, flat-ish lumps, their edges knocked of and reduced to manageable pieces, taken out, with difficultly, to the base of the entrance shaft. Sufficient room created, PMcG to slid into the wide bedding pushing the accumulated porridge ahead and anywhere he could. Some eight metres or so this western heading bedding intercepts a north heading bedding. This was followed for some four metres; PMcG returned calling out estimated measurements and descriptions. The beddings are not that tight, at the present limit the undulating roof, comes to within about 0.3m of the flat-ish floor, the floor consists of clay, silt and flat pieces of shale, taking a small stream. These beddings are maybe up to five metres wide, with a capacity for spoil to be stacked. Beyond today’s limit PMcG believes the bedding continues for, at least, a further six metres. Throughout, the bedding floor descends at a gentle rate. The constant, strong, chill draught delighted the cooling team. “The Lump” need be removed as the next task, urgently. Tools required to dig along the beddings. Arrange meet on the 23rd September will fit the stemples and remove some, not all, of the spoil dumped at surface to create a less steep, unstable mass. Entering and exiting is turning the floor into a liquid slurry, which is migrating downwards. To stem this horizontal timber braces need be secured across the passage at floor level to reduce erosion. A really cracking session.
9 hours (37)
22nd September Poulfantaiseach
15:45. Cloud 50%; showers: Wind W, F2:Visibility 30Nm: Gauge 0mm: Ground sodden. The Plan: steal a march on tomorrow. Nipped down to the merchants and picked up one of the galvanized scaffold tubes, promised as being delivered yesterday. Loaded up with 2 x two metre lengths of scaffold tube, stemple bolts and washers, laser level, Hilti drill and assorted drill bits. Evidence of the 74mm of rain since last Monday; the place washed clean. Lowered the kit, and began fitting the lower stemple. Much phaffing about getting it level, aligned and with just enough room for loose material support behind. Further evidence of recent heavy rainfall; dozens of trickles from the roof,. Drenching the operator. Needed to redrill the western 16mm hole, having cocked up its precise position, having partially obscuring the laser lines. Finally sorted, fitted the upper stemple; booth will provide all the lateral containment for the reduced spoil pile, and handy steps.
Hours 3 (40).
23rd September Poulfantaiseach
LS, PMcG, CC, PC
10:00. Cloud 75%: Wind NE/E, F6, gusting F8:Visibility 5 - 25Nm: Gauge 0mm: Ground wet. The Plan: reduce spoil behind temporary shoring in preparation for permanent shoring, perhaps remove “The Lump”. Changing, encountered Patsy Corrucan, voicing his concern over caving with an impending storm; assured him otherwise, exchanged phone numbers, he remembered showing CC and PC Formoyle West Cave, a while ago. Carried up, more scaffold tube, Hilti drill and assorted bits. PC went below to prepare “The Lump” for an imminent departure. CC prepared his box of magic. LS, PMcG began preparing removal of spoil from behind the temporary shoring; spreading same evenly across the landscape. CC descended to deal with “the Lump, cleaving it into five pieces; its remains taken to surface. PC then prepared a lower knub of protruding rock, this too CC returned to deal with; these bits also brought to surface. Noting the amount of debris washed in, reducing the size of the first breakthrough point, managed to install a stone “weir” to stem material migration, down into the Crawl area. Such weirs need installing toward the entrance shaft. Noted that much of the debris washed in, originated from below the upper thin bed; water from the northern side had flowed along this to cascade down the now exposed face. This needs attending to. The grey clay is not stable, appearing to dissolve on contact with water and passing cavers. Viewed from the beginning of the Crawl out to the entrance shaft, this section of rift has been filled with clay and shale debris of a depth, at least of 1.5m. The amount of debris at the beginning of the crawl needs stabilizing, likely will fit a stemple and pile debris behind, as this is enroute of heavy rainfall. Could also be used as a step, for the vertically challenged. Weather chill, easterlies bringing minor spits of rain. With U/G work completed, the four focused on removing the cubic metre of porridge behind the shoring. Little draught felt today. For 19:00 Met Eireann shows a pressure of 1004, ahead of Storm Nigel, which has a centre of 959 millibars. Spoil lowered to the top of the middle portion of the shoring. Suggested plan is to install a section of shoring a metre back from the present line, this will control/stabilize effects of water off this area of moorland. To extend the permanent shoring up another two, or three stemples, backed with plastic pallets and plastic voting posters, to stop the porridge squeezing through. A digging fund has been set up, all agreed to put in. To McDermott's, cracking session.
Hours 18 (58)
View facing north after removing 1 cubic meter of spoil
View facing west of the entrance
28th September Considine’s Cave
CC, Colin Bunce, Paddy Griffin, Paul Murphy, PC
18:00. Cloud 90%; threat of heavy showers: Wind S, F6/F8: Visibility <15Nm: Ground sodden: Gauge 7mm. The Plan: Following invites, prior to closure, only three takers. Arranged meet at 18:00. CC gave a guided tour of the site, explaining its history and rigid, safe working practices. All appeared to enjoy the occasion, each descending to see the place. PM, suggesting he speak with a pal, who may be interested in filming the place for posterity. CC suggesting holding off removing the infrastructure until “pals” intentions known via PM. Recovered plastic pallet (1.2m x 0.8m), for Poulfantaiseach.
29th September (1973) Lost Sulo Sulonen, (Pegasus), to Eldon Hole
29th September Poulfantaiseach
18:00. Cloud 60%: Wind SW, F3/4: Visibility 25Nm: Ground sodden: Gauge 18mm. The Plan: install shoring stemples. Took along Hilti drill, drill bits, Tony Boycotts battery mini grinder, assorted bits. Noted the place clean washed, again; the stream entering the rift at an angle through foliage, discharging into the centre of the rift/dig. Though much reduced, remaining flow sprayed the entire lower work area; this will mean a cape for the Hilti drill. Started with the topmost shoring. After a stupid mistake, relocated both 16mm drill holes. Second mistake; left two stemple studs on the bench in the workshop. Fitted the top stemple and drilled both holes for the lower. An awkward session trying not to drop drill etc. into the morass. Moved the wriggly-tin to behind this shoring to avoid the loose fill migrating. Supported with fence posts. Took bearing along the “west” side of the rift entrance; 052°Mg. Took another along the start of the entrance passage; ≈305°Mg. Cut the second stemple tube; ready to fit. There remains a spare 37 inches. Enough for, at the very least, one of the longer stemples in the shaft. Entry and exit needs something, a handline? Timber spar left in as temporary handrail. From below, two stemples should suffice for permanent shoring supports. Thoughts turned to Sulo, whilst walking back to the Hilux.
Hours 3 (61).
Start of session
End of session
30th September Poulfantaiseach
14:00. Cloud 100%, base 600ft: Wind SE, F4: Visibility 0 – 0.5Nm: Ground sodden: Rain gauge 2mm. The Plan: continue preparing for permanent shoring. Bit of a struggle with drill, grinder, assorted ironmongery and pallet. Cloud played tricks; visibility often dropped to zero. Looking into the rift, heard a lot of trickling/gurgling among the undergrowth to the east all flowing in the southern end, behind the upper part of the shoring, destabilizing the loose fill. Fitted the lower stemple, dug beneath where the pallet was to slide down vertically into position, just behind the stemples; minor issue. Where an east rift wall rib slopes in quite swiftly the pallet is not quite up against the stemples, this space is not critical and can be easily fitted with a spacer. Climbed down, balanced on the stemples to work. Used a level to accurately establish both upper stemple positions; after several false starts, experiencing difficulties with water flow. Small trickles and associated splashes swiftly soaked everything. Even though deployed in a carrier bag the Hilti got wet, yet managed to drill all four 16mm holes. The finished stemples, directly above one another will allow a shoring backing to be slide down vertically from above to below the lowest stemple. At the bottom, where the shoring is fitted under the west wall, a smaller section need be fitted first to contain the spoil in the rift from creeping/migrating into the now open bedding. The three metre ladder, once ex-Poulacapple, ex-Considine's is really needed to descend to the ledge of the present shoring.
Hours 3 (64)
The all but complete top most shoring, an 800 X 1200 plastic pallet, and the fixings for both entrance upper stemples