Author: Sean Miner
I heard there would be a big bunch of cavers from around Ireland at the Hoo. So I made sure I was there early to bag a chair . Of course this being me I had some last minute thing to do to the White Elephant; like swap the engine in it, for something bigger and gruntier. So I didn't leave home as planned, but it gave me an urgency to get to the Hoo ASAP as opposed to monkeying around in bogs of Cavan or lurking around old tunnels in Armagh.
'Twas a dark and stormy night, and I ignored all signs that the road was closed from Florence court to Marlbank. I came across the yellowy goldy mustardy heavily laden Toyota of Jamesie looking forlornly at a swollen river and remains of a washed away bridge. I was going to get out and laugh but as it were pishing it down I plunged the White Elephant ankle deep over the bridge. This didn't create the most spectacular bow wave but it impressed James to tackle it himself. Needless to say I didn't wait round to see did the Toyota go turtle up down the river.
The wee track down to the Hoo was packed with traffic that night. Feck me there was light on in the Hoo so I wasn't the first there. And there were bugger all parking spaces. To avoid congestion in the future, Fermanagh district council is now considering pay parking in the area.
There were heaps of people in the Hoo, but nowhere near the 70 souls Petie the Potholing Pervert had told me had stayed in it before. Barney had already scared silent the freshers from Dublin and Belfast. But alcohol and banjo plucking soon broke them down and rebuilt them as hardened caving type drinkers. Songs were unsung, friendships made and broken, the Whoo entertainment system was in full swing. We met Jerry the Frenchman and Brian the USAman , Narcus the Kazakhstani, Alexandria the German and Sunyahh the Hungarian.
Next day - for some reason - the Dub crews got up early to look at spreadsheets. We Nordys calmly went about our business of sleeping and making of foodstuff, rehydrating in the sun, and retelling the stories of the early hour happenings. I opted out of caving on the Saturday, so I became call out dude, and had everyone's names and supposed locations on a bit of sandpaper I found in the car. Thunderbird Maxwell took a mob to Pullnahueyspewy which I have covered in a previous trip report. James took a crew into the "Garden caves" which had me thinking of a salad for lunch.
Whilst everyone was slogging it out underground I got lost in Fermanagh, had tea and biccies with Jock, rocked the Rocking Rock, cleaned out the White Elephant , found 4 bottles of wine from the Christmas caving expedition, went up to the post apocalyptic landscape of the recently deforested Burren, (which has revealed a number of sink holes), done some offroading, procured some logs for the Hoo's fire, looked at some ole burial chambers. By this stage I had a mate from Sheffield in tow, who was taking photos of things like cows, really dull bogs, tractors and fence posts; which all are apparently lacking in England. He thought Cavan/Fermanagh was better than Disneyland.
Happily everyone got out of the caves before callout. Thereafter I could rip open a can of beverage.
Chef Maxwell had summoned up a big pot o hotpot. I didn't see where it came from so can only guess he'd slaved over it, at home the day before. Kudos. A pigeon was plucked and roasted and consumed; Jerry devoured the picked over flaming carcass he'd retrieved from the fire. Then out came these build a ginger bread man kits, built on condition yours had to look like someone in the crew.
After dinner some of us stayed in the Hoo - predominantly those who had been to Pollnahueyspewy ('tis an exhausting cave I found) - and the rest piled into a car to head down town. Frank Eddies was all verily quiet til we turned up, being as that's where the dubs had based themselves. We turned it into a Coyote Ugly/Dawn til Dusk sort of pub, and scared all the squares away.
After we closed it, us, Pete the Perve and Dave from the Cave went to the Bush. This was the pinnacle of country and western hoe-down muzak. We learnt there are actual music videos accompanying these tunes. I thought we had come across a wedding party given the quality of tunes from the one man band. From earlier ramblings during the day I knew there was a wedding somewhere nearby. The Bush has now been ticked of the lists of places to visit before I die, but I would go back, seems to be the latest bar in Blacklion.
The trip back to the Hoo was a bit surreal for the sober driver. Imagine 6 pissheads singin Barbara Streisand techno music and a being closely followed by a mystery car with its full beams on right down the lane to the Hoo. Turns out mystery car was been steered by an inebriated local farmer wanting to party.
Our party involved creating a song dedicated to Rocky's Da. I don't think he heard it, as he was kipping in his Landy, but everyone in the Hoo must have heard it by the first chorus. At some stage in the night, the big purple dinosaur struck again and pissed in some poor bastard's shoes. Something not quite right with this fella.
Next day after a feed o'egg and bacon, all the crews combined for a large cross-community/border expedition to White Fathers' under the main Enniskillen-Sligo road between Blacklion and Glenfarne Station. First time in White Fathers' for me. It's a walk in, wade out, non creepy crawly cave i.e. no belly flopping or flying superman poses required. It was nipple pointedly cold, but good for the clearing the head and cleaning of muddied gear. A rope was fixed to aid lesser webbed people in negotiating the deeper waters. I liked the hanging gardens of Babylon bits where there were holes in the roof daylighting into the cave, letting in creepers and stuff.
We popped out of the cave beside the exercise yard fence of a prison. Back to the cars we went and then to the Hoo to tidy up and go home, pleasantly at a social hour. I, on the other hand, headed west for a fry up at Clancies and a week of bush bashing in Mayo.