Caving Trip – Irish Student Caving Forum 2012
Kiltyclogher, Co. Leitrim, 6–9 April 2012

Author: Sean Barker

Present: Adam Whiteside, Conor 'Nuts' O'Neill, Sean Miner, Conor 'Rocky' Winchcombe, James Armstrong, Conor 'Barney' McAdams, Sarah McFetridge, Sean Major, Jock Read.

It all started on the Friday evening where we met at the union at 6, and eventually were on our merry way to Kiltyclogher. We stopped off in Wetherspoons in Enniskillen for food, where we bumped into DIT who regaled us with the tale of how they had skilfully driven over two pheasants and were planning to enjoy them for Sunday dinner. We finally hit Kiltyclogher around 10pm and after setting up camp in the hall we opened up the carryout. As we reacquainted ourselves with our southern friends, Pavel passed round his gin and with some Dutch courage participated in the squeeze machine competition. Rocky insisted on having 4 attempts, eventually withstanding the encouragement and abuse to finally get through it. We sat telling stories til the small hours and having the craic.

After breakfast Queen's decided to help with the cave conservation project at Noone's Hole. We left James and Nuts to sleep off their hangovers whilst the rest of us headed off to Noone's. We followed Sharon from DCU whose driving wouldn't have looked out of place in the Circuit of Ireland Rally, leaving several nauseous cavers stumbling towards Noone's Hole! Barney, Rocky and Adam along with Brian, Owen, Orla and Aaron from DCU headed down to the bottom of Noone's, whilst Sarah and Major assisted Les to pull up two jumbo bags of rubbish to the surface. Noone's looked like an impressive cave, must try and get down there sometime! After dealing with the rubbish, we headed back to Kiltyclogher, where a wonderful dinner of cottage pie and garlic bread awaited us. James and Nuts turned up saying that they had reached the sump in Cascades, but the rumour that they were sighted in a pub in Manorhamilton is yet to be clarified! After dinner there were three talks, Gaelan Elliffe on Caving in Dachstein, that looked extreme as you would get, 4/5 days underground, if you stop you freeze, proper hardcore caving. Next was Steph Dwyer, Tony Seddon and Paul Mackrill on Xitu in the Picos and then the one we all were waiting on: Jock Read's tale of the trip to Papua New Guinea. He enthralled us with stories of the bushmen, snakes, jungle politics, the food and customs, sounded like an amazing adventure. We then made our way to the pub and enjoyed the local music until last orders were called around 4 in the morning. The drunken antics continued until the sunrise with an egg-citing egg catching contest (ask Barney for details!) and the now annual singsong in James' Car.

On Sunday, Miner, Major, Rocky and Sarah slipped off to Clancy's for a fry and came up with the plan to visit Coolarkan and Pol na Gollum in the afternoon. On our return we rounded up Barney and told Adam, Nuts and James that we'd meet them at 2pm at Pol na Gollum. In classic Queen's fashion we followed Rocky's "shortcut" and after exploring the backroads of Leitrim for an hour, eventually arrived at Coolarkan around 2pm. After visiting the impressive 'Slur on Irish Cavers', we finally realised why it is such a mystery. After arriving at Pol na Gollum sometime nearer 3, and being joined by Gaelan and Maeve, we explored Pol na Gollum. The first lake was freezing but a fantastic hangover cure, and the duck was fun as always. On our return to the surface, James' car wouldn't start, even after Gaelan tried every trick in the book. After acquiring a set of jump leads from Les, we eventually made it back to Kiltyclogher. Stew was the on the menu (I'll explain the pheasant later), and we settled down to enjoy the canyon 2011 video, Jim Warny's cave diving exploits and the emotional 'Riders on the Storm' video, a fantastic insight into how Artur achieved the deepest traverse in Ireland, he was sorely missed at the forum. We then set off to the pub with cries of "To Artur". The raffle was eventful with Barney picking out his own tickets 3 times in a row, but he was happy with his camping equipment. Rocky won a bottle of wine and thermos flask, the result was his mad dancing in the disco, just proves that Róisin's win in the hoo dance-off a few years back was no fluke. Eabha caused havoc after filling the water pistol with wine, and the night was full of music and mayhem. When we got back to the hostel, the pheasant was cooked, (Barney had gutted them earlier) and those with strong stomachs enjoyed whatever they could of the birds. The music continued up the kitchen, and I've no idea where or how, but a plastic ball fight started with Petie riding a BMX through the middle of it all. Nut's extravagant antics ended with him collapsing on a table, and the music continued in James' car (where else). After packing up, then a fry in Clancy's, Major, Sarah, Rocky and Barney joined DIT in exploring White Fathers' cave to bring to an end a wonderful weekend of music, mayhem and mad craic in Kiltyclogher.