Author: Sean Major
We arrived down on the Saturday 9th July, around 6pm at Drumshambo, after a stop in Blacklion to enjoy the market festival that was in the town. After pitching our tents in the garden, we went for a drive to explore the scenery, as there was plenty to see around the area. It was a weekend of caving, no real drinking and simply good fun.
Dragonfly Pot – 10th July 2011 (Steve Muh, Steve Bus, Les, Aileen, Eábha, Bazza and Major)
On the Sunday, we went to Dragonfly Pot, which is found by driving through Keadew, into the next town; take right, to a forest. After getting our heads around some dodgy looking rigging which turned out to be safe, lead to a belay pitch. If you push on through the cave, you come to a traverse that makes John Thomas's look tame. A few parts further down can be climbed with the aid of a rope and body traversing. Shoulders in, elbows in, arse out, using your whole body for grip, most of the cave is technical. You need to keep your eyes out for where your feet and hands are going to go next. It ranks as one of the most challenging and enjoyable caves I have ever explored. When you get in, follow the river and waterfall, a spectacular route, as you climb and traverse down waterfalls several times. We eventually reached the sump at the bottom of the cave, a welcome sight as it took 3 hours to reach that point, and with Jaffa cakes being eaten like there was no tomorrow, we turned and headed upwards. It is easier to get out than in, as you can find where to put your feet and hands a lot easier. Steve Bus, Steve Muh and myself took a diversion on the way back, going to check out a piece of passageway that looked quite promising, but ended in a mud wall, and a tight squeeze that led no where in my opinion.
The belay pitch is handier going upwards and the free climb out, as it can be slippy going in, but much easier going out as you know where your hands and feet need to be. A very good cave, with lots of variety, mud, limestone formations, traverses, pitches, belays, squeezes, free climbs and crawls. A fun cave, but not for the faint hearted.
Afterwards Eábha took us to a local river and waterfall where my new wetsuit could be tested out, check out the pictures of Bazza's face when he was under the waterfall, priceless!
Poll na Gollum of the Boats – 11th July 2011 (Sean Major and Bazza)
After a massive fry in Clancys, we went our separate ways for the day. Whilst the other four minus Les, who showed us to the entrance, went to fix some bolts in Noons (which involved going 3 hours into the cave and fixing bolts on a pitch, a 14 hour trip), Bazza and I (Major) went off to Poll na Gollum, which is found just down the road from the Hoo, you can park at a forest park entrance and walk 100 yards up the road. A spectacular entrance awaited, and the cave entrance is down to the left between two massive boulders. Squeeze on through and you drop down into a space between the two boulder chokes. Don't go straight on, simply double back on yourself into the harder, tighter boulder choke. When you emerge, mark the entrance to it, as it is hard to find on the way back. Turn right and go against the water and you will arrive at the first lake. At this point, the rest of the cave is handy, follow the water, and there is a bypass to the sump at the end of the third lake. We searched in vain for the passageway to the 4th lake, and we simply gave up after 20mins and returned the way we came. This cave is full of sparkly chert, lots of gour pools and formations, spectacular rifts and ridges, so take the time to enjoy the sights.
Polltullyard (Les, Bazza and Major)
After returning to Les's house, he took Bazza and I (Major) to Polltullyard, to do the pitch into Shannon Cave. What amazed me was the sheer smoothness of the rock face, and the sheer volume of water it took to form the cave. We simply pitched up and down for the experience of it, Les showed off by seeing how fast he could go up and down. It was quite hilarious when his foot jammer broke halfway up! Thanks to Les for the experience as it was the longest pitch either of us had done.
Having seen the start of Shannon Cave, I felt it appropriate that we visited Shannon Pot the 'traditional' start of the Shannon. However the diversion did take us past Lough Macnean which had some breathtaking views, and simply we had to stand and admire as it was awesome. After cooking a massive spag bol, we patiently waited for the others to return from Noons which they did around 3, to tell their story.
John Thomas's Hole – 12th July 2011 (Hugh, Bazza and Major)
With a little help from Hugh from UCD, Bazza and I (Major) went and explored John Thomas's Hole, in all its muddy glory. We simply went down, explored every nook and cranny, and came out. We called into the Castello Del Hoo for a quick visit, before heading home, bringing to an end a great weekend.