Well, much has been happening since last I wrote, and I guess it’s time for a round-up before any, ahem, BIG NEWS is released here… Efforts have continued over the last 12 months to get past the terminal sump at the end of the Mayfly extension of Shannon, but for a long time these efforts were making slow progress. Plenty has been going on in the meantime:

Steve Bus, Aileen and myself provided a talk on the Shannon Story So Far (featuring interpretative dance by Rónán O’Ceallacháin) at the SUI/ICRO Symposium in October. The presentation included a whirlwind 3D tour of the overground layout of the Shannon area, survey data of the last couple of years’ progress and photos of the current cave passage and dig areas.

Next, the one thing we thought would never happen — Steve Bus lost heart. Almost broken by the impenetrable barrier of Sump 3 (*sob!*), he travelled off to Germany, the USA and Australia just to get away from the shame. In the meantime, the rest of us just rolled up our sleeves and got on with business, starting work on a complete resurvey of Shannon Cave from Polltullyard entrance (a necessary evil, as there are no marked survey points in the cave from the previous survey for us to take reference from, nor to add further passage to). So by the time Steve was back from his travels and had stopped being so silly, we had the route through Polltullyard and the connection with Shannon already surveyed.

The next discovery came in February 2008 while surveying beyond the Border Climb in JCP passage. While surveying the first (of probably 100 still to come) boulder choke of Shannon Cave, Les Brown noticed an anomaly in the water flow — a new, previously unnoticed inlet had been found! And with a very large water flow coming through it too. A few theories are floating around (hee hee) as to its source, but until we can get the survey data properly laid out (and maybe a little dye tracing done?) we won’t know for sure. Steve Bus’ original description of the passage is as follows:

Four of us (Les, Ronan, Aileen and me) went surveying down Shannon yesterday and it went really well especially after Les noticed that there is a mysterious second streamway which seemed to appear from nowhere! Half an hour of digging and a George’s choke like squeeze lead into a narrow rift-like inlet which contributes more water than the Polltullyard streamway. How we missed it I don’t know – though it does appear in a middle of a boulder choke (which one I hear you say).

We can’t figure out where the water comes from, but due to the dodginess of the entrance  (we didn’t have any digging/shoring tools which made an interesting time moving boulders), only the first 10m were explored. However, it looks like it keeps going.

– Steve Bus

Later reports are that it is still going, but it’s increasingly tight, dodgy and wet. That’s never stopped us before of course, but with so much work to do in Shannon it’s just been added to the list for the time being. In the meantime, more Important Stuff of Note has been discovered in the past week… Here’s the official word from the Shannon Group, 25th March 2008:

A brief update.

Over the last week we had Chris Jewell and Simon Cornhill over here diving. On St. Paddy’s weekend they managed to pass the terminal sump in Shannon to find the continuation on the other side. At the same time a voice connection was made from our dig to the new extension.

On Easter Saturday after a brief digging session from both sides (Simon and Chris gracefully volunteered to dive through again to help) we made a dry connection for us landlovers.

The new extension is big – maybe a kilometre – and of impressive dimensions. More to follow in due course.

– Stevo, Shannon Group

So that pretty much brings us up to the present day. Survey data has been recorded up to a point shortly before the decorated sandy chamber in JCP (please leave the tape marker and measuring reel in place!), although we may now be inclined to skip to the end and get the new passage surveyed. A proper report of the breakthrough and ensuing discoveries will be forthcoming, but in the meantime I’ve written a report on the first QUBCC reccie trip into the extension last week (see the trip reports page). Enjoy!

Fat Tony

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