Author: Sean Miner
Yep, we went to the 2011 Irish Student Caving Forum in Clare this year.
Okay I'll expand a little bit. Bit.
Okay the before was very cheap joke. For that I am sorry. No seriously we did go to Clare. Turns out we were in Kilfenora in North Clare, which meant we had travelled via SuperMacs in Galway. Like previous encounters of Guttermacs on O'Connell Street at 4 thirty in the morning, this was indeed tasty and tempting, and I was hankering for more even after a pick and mix from the garage next door.
I am still outraged that alcohol is not sold in the south on Good Friday. Should be renamed Not so Good Friday. But Tescos of Banbridge furnished me with 20 stumpies for less than 7 quid. Phil, Jerry our Frenchman, Conor (Conor that is not Rocky, nor Barney, and will therefore remain Conor until we find another Conor or he does/says something we can mentally scar him for life with) they took my directions to a border drinking shebeen and bought themselves Jeyes fluid and Ciffic Bang. Somewhere else on the road were James, Captain Cumshot and Barney in a 6 wheeled drive, open-topped road warrior with 2 virgins strapped to the front bullbars by barbed wire, flames bellowing out of an up front V12 nitro-charged Chevy.
Barry (some of you may not know Barry. He sometimes tells people he's a caver), tootled along in his VeeDub with a boot full of hot cross buns and daggy caving gear, listening to Boyzone. Barry just drives around with the gear in the car so when people ask "What's that," he can say, "It's caving gear. My name's Barry and I am a caver."
At some stage on Friday our convoy careened into Kilforna. Kilforno is a wee town in north County Clare. Well it's not a town it's a city cos it has a cathedral which houses the Doorty Cross. Which was Doorty before James got to it. The so called cathedral looked like some Mexican chapel in a Clint Eastwood film.
DIT and DCU were there. I don't recall ever meeting DCU crew before nor can I after this event. DIT's Petie the Perve unnervingly was wearing contacts, Tony from Starless River was there contending for the Fat Tony title. Artur, Pavel and some cave diggers from Clare were knocking around too. Granny from across the road was chatting up Barney at half one in the morning.
Conor had great fun with Frosty Jack; his blue bottled friend from the Newry drinking den. It was a lively 2 way conversation that got so loud it emptied a roomful of cavers and scared them away into the kitchen.
Gale and Barney remained the last pissheads standing after drawing in a spoon propelling contest.
Next day saw Phil pick up some new gear for the club from Tony. 'Tis an ideal time to do business with Tony because either he's pissed, hungover or knackered cos of Cumshot coming thru the door at 4am.
We learnt through various mediums that this town was used as the set for a few of the Father Ted shows. The barman is the barman in the Chinese racist episode whose sole line in it is "The bars closed"; later on we fully understood this joke.
Baz, Phil, Barney, James, Conor, Frosty Jack and Me the miner went to Pollgullysomethingoranother. Jerry and Cumshot joined Éabha, Gale and some other dubs in another crew into the same cave. We done a circitoues route leaving in opposite directions and meeting in the middle for a BBQ. 'Twas a simple enough route with Phil leading, from memorising Gale's instructions as he had quickly seen thru my façade of "yeah"-nod-"yeah"-nod convincingly-"okay". Muddy Crawl wasn't really muddy and the place was verily clean, lots of meandering canyony stream typo cave. We stayed in the stream were we didn't have much chance of getting lost.
We met Gales crew at the top of a pitch. We thoughtfully had laid a Hansel and Gretel trail of Stella Artois and Supermac fumes for them to follow out of the cave.
After the cave we went and had a pinto beer in Lisdoonvarna. A spa town and place of the International Matchmaking Festival. Which by all accounts is the place to be in, in September. It's the sort of town that doesn't look sideways at freaks running around barefooted, sporting tweed caps, talking nasally, covered in mud, with soaking kappa knacker tracker suit bottoms, driving lilac coloured Barbie cars.
Cos of our beverage appreciation in Lisdoonvarna, I think we missed the meat of the remaining chicken curry back at the hostel. Róisin where are you and your lasagne? Shitabix for breakfast and the curry inspired me to manufacture copious cheese upon toast at 4am that morning.
Oh yeah it were Saturday and the pubs were open. After the dinner there were some talks in the next door pub about cave exploration in Clare. The name Poll Gonzo stuck in everyone's head. In my head it's the only "Pollna____" cave name I can remember. Named after the dog that found it. I want to know what the dog was named after? Some sexy looking photies and viddies were shown of cave innards. This triggered Barney's urge to flay around in turgent mud in the bottom of a tight hole. He volunteered the next day to go poke a stick at it.
Some squeeze machining was done on Saturday night and there was a disco in the pub.
Next day, Baz, Jerry, Phil and Me the Miner went on a journey of discovery, to Father Ted's house, a holy well, the Burren and a Spar supermarket. Conor and James done a similar trip. Cumshot came with them.
Then a timed SRT race was conducted, dunno who won it, or who in our mob was quickest. At this stage in proceedings me, Phil and Jerry went north. Leaving James, Baz, Barney, Conor and Cumshot in Clare. From this point on, Barney said he was going to do the trip report..........................................