Author: Sean the Miner
I've met some characters (mainly from North America and Australia) that reckon Ireland is actually joined to England, actually landlocked. I felt I had to better their education so told them there are no cats in Ireland, cos St Paddy chased all the snakes away so there was no food for the cats...
It's a widely known fact that St Paddy had a lisp and a German brother called Karl who was into caving. Hence the geological term Karst.
Kiltyclogher is famous for hosting the 2010 Irish Caving Student Forum and not a lot else. 'Tis a sleepy wee village between the lakes and forests of County Leitrim, the sorta place that involves a 20-mile detour to get to a cash machine.
A heap of people descended upon the tiny town. These people came from as far afield as Uruguay, Papua New Guinea, Alaska, Congo and Sheffield.
The base of operations was Kilty's hostel, which according to one online review is a Large, spacious purpose-built hostel which doubles as a community centre - however, this made it feel like staying in a clinic, with hospital-type doors, daycare easy-clean chairs and leaflets about drink/drugs, sexual abuse etc. Some of these daycare chairs and leaflets came in useful, and the fact it resembled a clinic helped some to feel right at home.
So what was the forum all about? Well mainly it was about caving and caving people being social, as opposed to sitting in a dark damp corner under a bridge, drinking cider and occasionally coming out and gurning at passers-by.
The Queen's uni team done real good organising the event. Basically if anyone got lost between the pubs and the hostel, it meant they had pulled either a muck savage or a granny who up until that point had been watching telly bingo.
I arrived into town late on Saturday, as I had to dig out a car from the back of someone's garden. It was easy to spot the students as they wandered around Ballygobackwards looking for the Che Guevara poster shop. The more skilled cavers were heading to the pub to re-enact pint-for-pint each individual rock they came across that day.
Gathering from conversations around the campfire, there had been a lot of activity that Saturday, including banana boating, ski diving, hot air ballooning, paintballing, gladiator wrestling, Russian roulette, cock fighting and lawn bowls.
I found food, which again the Queen's team had well produced in bat fastard portions. After this I followed the crowd into some presentations about caving in Ireland and elsewhere. I figured a headcount of about 120 souls during the lectures and know there were a few lost souls out on the streets still looking for the cash machine (or more productively, thumb wrestling the sheepdippers in the pub). There was an everyone's-a-winner raffle, which raised funds for some caving related organisation. I can't remember which one. What was important, is that of all the gear to win I chose a very colourful looking Piñata, which was christened "Frederick the gay caving donkey". Later in the pub he was rid till his back broke. To the pubs of Kiltyclogher this was like any other Saturday night out.
Back at the base the DJ from the pub set up his gear in the kitchen and we had us a barn dance and beard-pulling contest.
Next morning I woke in a perfectly pitched tent in the middle of a bog. I felt mightily chuffed with myself as it was the best pitching of that tent ever and my shoes were clean. For breakfast I had baked beans and pineapple, which made a reappearance later that day.
It been Easter Sunday, Queens ecumenical officer Father J. McManus held mass in the car park and blessed all the jammers and descenders with WD40. Then like the start of the gumball rally the massive Quest for the Holey Easter Egg started with cavers' cars whipping out of the carpark and going out in all directions. Each team assigned an egg to find in a particular cave. The winning team being the one back at base that night with the most eggs, so if the crew were good they could try and find an opponent's egg after they found their own, effectively poaching victory. (Ha I'm good) Some teams were just happy to eat the egg as they found it. Some eggs were found to have crushed upon extraction from the cave and the team disqualified from tally. Team Archiballs-Duckfart were deemed the winners having procured 3 eggs outdoing Teams Pokadonkey and Dublin City University Cavers. Being cleverer than DCU cavers ain't much of a challenge though.
Father McManus was back that night to help judge the inaugural Irish cavers' Lovely Girls contest. Himself and some other perverts rated the Lovely Girls on looks, mammaries, skill set, talkability, easyontheeyeness, and ability to squeeze into tight caves. The winner was from a uni in England and the prize was a night out with Father McManus at Enzo's pizza takeaway in Blacklion, County Cavan.
On Monday everyone mostly went home but some remained for a hazing in ceremony of an occult caving society.