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(Castle Dig)


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Hole Beneath The Castle.




M 1010 x 0040

510052 x 700420

91 Metres

  0 Metres

  4 Metres


The location of the depression is at the point where a gap has formed through the limestone ridge which extends north from Doolin to the summit of Knockaunsmountain; this gap was likely created by the action of melt water from the receding ice cap; perhaps the Midlandian glaciation.

This site was described to PC by CMcG of Roadford, Doolin; water had been heard falling away. PC first visited the site with KJ in February 2008; it is located in the north western quadrant of the four way road junction at Ballynalacken Castle; the five metre deep depression is within a copse of scrub and mature trees. There is an adjacent pump house that draws water from a bore hole that supplies the houses nearby. Digging was commenced in July 2010 with ML (Gonzo); following an exhaustive search for the elderly owner Joe Garner; a local, now long term resident in the U.S.A.

Regular digging sessions were carried out by CC and PC following an apparent solid wall; this unfortunately turned out to be a very large boulder that became increasingly unstable as the dig deepened. To prepare the boulder for deployment of low explosive PC managed to obtain a trailer to carry a large generator, heavy duty drill and a thirty millimetre by one metre long drill bit to provide the required depth for the shot-holes. With the kind assistance of NJ a substantial amount was blown off; a clever process. The overhanging section of boulder was now gone allowing a less nervous digging team to recommence in earnest ably supported, when practicable, by TB and BS; occasionally visited by others, including PMcG and CMcG. As depth increased the absence of a solid wall created the urgent need for a stable working environment so the shaft continued to be sunk through unstable ground using heavy duty pallets, with cross bracing, as shoring;  progress was steady. Spoil was hauled out using a small pulley fixed to a  bough  five metres above, directly over the shaft. The dumping area was limited so all spoil was packed behind a dry stone wall created to hold the clays and soil and keep the place tidy. This wall was at the end of the hollow which was utilized as road drain along which occasional run off was directed toward the shaft through installed four inch pipe lain in its base. As digging progressed the ground around the east side of the shaft showed signs of increasing instability due to the result of rain storms. Eventually an area was reached where a gap to the north appeared to enter the top of a possible rift; alas other diggers had too eagerly dug, in doing so undermined part of the shoring  creating an area of dangerous instability out of reach from the safe confine of the shaft. 

12th February 2012: The instability had become untenable, this, coupled with the appearance of Joe's son, a rather nervous American lawyer, caused the team to carefully reflect on the situation. The decision to  close down the dig and back fill the site was not taking lightly. Should this site be visited in the future a digger, (JCB), should be used to expose the rift like area quickly and install concrete pipes to stabilize the upper area.









Barry Suddell

Cheg Chester

Connor McGrath

Ken James

Tony Boycott

Mark Lumley

Pat Cronin

Paul McGrath

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