The Book of Wilfrit

CAVING FROM A BEGINNERS PERSPECTIVE

by Niamh O'Connor, 1992

Anyone who thinks they don't know a thing about caving knows more than I did when I joined the caving club. I must have momentarily lapsed into a hunger for danger, but in that second of passing insanity I submitted a fiver to partake in a sport of which I knew fuck all.

Way back in the early days of the club ( all of a year ago) when it boasted a meager 35 or so members, we took our first trip (as an excursion) to the caves of the Burren in Co. Clare. My first encounter with a cave was stranger than expected, we dropped down a fifty foot sheer cliff face (all in the name of fun you understand) to get to the opening of the cave. It was called "Muddy Links" and I wasn't long in guessing why. My first feeling upon entering was one of utter betrayal, the word "CAVE" is such a deceiving word. Anything would be better, e.g.. "letterbox" or "credit card slot". Either would be infinitely more appropriate, put it this, way if you ever wonder how those ships got into those bottles with those little necks, join the caving club and labour no longer. Its just that when I think cave, I visualise Batmans spacious cave, the one in The Lost Boys and the one in the Goonies. TV has obviously lied to me, the bastard. Not only was it wrong about the size thing, but nowhere did it mention water. But don't worry, you're not always dragging you're chin along the floor and marinating yourself in a puddle. 

The size (and wetness) varies from cave to cave, believe me there are caves that King Kong would find roomy. The only common features between all caves is that they are all dark wet and made of rock. OK, so it sounds like a bad nightmare and maybe we are all maladjusted thrillseeking weirdo's, with an off putting streak of masochism. But it's not that bad. Consider it as the bar on the night of a ball. You enter with a due sense of apprehension and excitement, wearing clothes you don't mind getting wet and dirty in. But once your inside, choice doesn't come into it and deserted by everything else (including the ability to move your legs) you are forced to rely on cunning, instincts and as many of your muscles as you can (your left eyebrow and the little finger of your right hand can be useful) if you ever want to see the outside world again. Although you do a lot of cursing and praying, the fear and desperation result in a kind of exhilaration that makes you want to do it all again. 

But to be honest we didn't spend a whole lot of time caving, it was very much a weekend of sex, drink and poker with mere undertones of caving. The sleeping arrangements in this seven person house had to be seen to be believed, with seven people in one bed needless to say the sexual innuendo was flying. I came home with a new intolerance for mankind in general. On setting out on the weekend I had expected to experience claustrophobia of some kind but I had no idea that it would be from resorting to sleeping in the airing cupbard. You see at 4am it's too dark to tell if the deafening noise in the rooms is the snoring of some half-mutant-half-human being or some stray farm machinery. But this was way up on the Richter scale, way above EC regulations and the only place to get some sleep was in the hot press. After 3 days and enough larger to float the QE2, we went home. 

The next trip promises to be as exciting, should you decide to join us come prepared. Bring plenty of warm clothes, a decent hair brush, a rabbits paw, some stripy paint, the blood of a virgin otter and the broomstick of the wicked witch of the west. I would recommend watching plastic man cartoons - they help. And remember it's not all fun and games, it has its practical uses, especially if you want to find out if the light really does go out in your fridge when you close the door.

 

DIT CAVING CLUB-IT'S ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!

by Bernie October 2001

Oh yeah baby! I is speakin' the truth! The DIT Caving Club has been revived. It's limp, frail shell has been filled with lively young bodies who break out in a cold sweat at the mention of getting deep down and dirty!!!! Mmm deep down! Mmm dirty! 


On the 19th of October last, the DIT Caving Club embarked on its first weekend trip of the year to Doolin, Co. Clare, to do some quality caving, have some fun and sample the local pub at the same time (all of which were done to perfection!). We were fortunate to have been invited to travel down on the bus with University College Dublin Caving and Potholing Club (UCDCPC), and stay in the house with them also, which was mighty craic! Thanks UCDCPC! We love you!

We left UCD on Friday evening to begin the torturous six-hour bus journey to our destination. If you can survive that, you are guaranteed that trudging through a cave for three hours will be a piece of cake! We made our usual 'tasty and tempting' food stop in Ballinasloe on the way, the visit to the off-license was to ensure that the rest of the journey would be less painful and we eventually reached Doolin near midnight. There was a respectable rush to grab a bed for the night, the unlucky ones were pushed onto the floor, pointed at and laughed at respectively!

Saturday arrived abruptly, when we were all told to get our "asses out of bed" at 8am. But it didn't matter, because two hours later we were on the way to the underground, to the world beneath our feet. Thankfully, Mr. Rain decided to stay away, so there was nothing left to worry about except getting to the cave, getting in and then getting back out safely. Getting to our cave, Poll Dubh, was a challenge to say the least. It was fun wrestling with the ground in an attempt to keep our wellies on our feet and trying to defy gravity and stay vertical was lots of fun too!!! Once we got into the cave, we were fine. It was a remarkable cave, which required a bit of crawling, climbing, and crouching, but it was visually striking, with lots of formations adorning the ceiling, sides and floor of the cave. The other group went into Poll na Grai, and from the feedback we got from the novices, they really enjoyed it. The appeared to have been quite impressed with the whole 'cave thing'. They enjoyed having the opportunity to see the beautiful formations that exist down there, like the stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, and curtains. They also liked the feel of the cold, wet mud on their bodies (so they said anyway!).

After returning to the house for lunch, we had the opportunity to go caving again, and all DIT Cavers were more than willing to do it. This was a good sign, they'd been bitten and had caught the bug (followed by exaggerated eeeevil laugh). Caves on the list this time were Cullaun 2 and Pollnagollum. I have never heard so much grunting, moaning, whining and panting as I heard in Cullaun 2 that evening. We decided to take a route not often taken by cavers, and halfway through we knew why that was. It was very physical, due to the extremely narrow, low and long passages, one of those aptly called 'Year Passage'. This didn't dispirit us though, it only made the trip more challenging and exciting. The Pollnagollum group again thoroughly enjoyed themselves, but to be honest, I was so tired after returning from Cullaun 2, I forgot to ask them what they thought.

The remainder of the night was spent washing ourselves, eating and of course, drinking!! Mmm beer!!! We definitely achieved our aims. We made it to Clare, we spent a whole day underground,we had lots of fun on Saturday night and we made it back safely on Sunday!! The weekend was a success and hopefully the first of many. There are a lot of people who helped a lot to get the first trip off the ground and you all know who you are, so thanks! If you would like to go away on a weekend like this, then why not send us a mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . to find out information on our November trip

 

Report on the first Caving Club trip, 2004

by Katie Walsh (fresher!)

Caving ? caving ? whats it all about.... sigh... ermm well 

I had been in a cave ( a show cave I'm lead to believe that this is a lesser form of caving!!??)
I had a fair idea what was involved in the art of caving but this didn't effect what I packed at all!! The only thing I worried about was the mud drying out my hands / or the inside of the gloves powdery crap oh and my lips drying out..
It was the 5th of October 2004 after buying the groceries yumm we (Malcolm, Shane, me) headed off to Boho Co.Fermanagh.

The journey was grand, Shane and Malcolm rambled on about cars and other shite didn't sleep but had plenty of room to move about . Was very quiet at pub slept in back room (of community centre) and narrowly avoided the advances of a drunken dancer. Early morning due to lack of curtains on windows and somebody opening the door on to my head. Managed to reisit the fry mmm porrige.  Was introduced to gear had fun finding boots that fitted my feet, with the wet socks on, my boot size increased from a modest 5 to a 9 !! Plodded down the road to bo cave struggled a little with the gate!!! Worried about the cave!! Lots of crouching pulling dragging and uh awes at the formations then outside again oh and there was loads of mud (yeah I thought I was reasonably fit Boho showed me what for). Very tired after Boho
Had a wee bit of trouble removing gear the wet socks didn't want to be parted from me

Lunch was a fine vegetable soup and cheese and ham sambos. Went to the next 'cave' whitefathers or something. I was a little aprenhsive about this one cause Sean, Shane and Malcolm didn't come with. It was really a river I have no quams about getting wet but then again the wet suit was already wet, fell a lot... a member of the team was lost to the torrential rapids and sharp stones of whitefathers . Mr. Dingee is gone to the great lake in the sky. Dinner sweet and sour chicken lounged around loads can't play pool so just watched. Went to pub after a few mouthfuls of wine my previous shyness was neglected while I played some very good darts with mine self. Yeahy the queens ladies came I was a little sick of being the only girl in the group... had fun met a lot of people with names beginning with a or e. Threw wine at A parrot, cheated and lost at pool, pulled some interesting dance moves, ate some nasty tomato crisps.
My darts game slipped a bit after the second glass, got beer put in my pants and I still haven't seeked revenge for that YET !!!

When we got back I went to bed @ about half 2or so... while the festivities kept on going for quiet a while, I managed to sleep through out the symphony of snoring .

Another early morning cause queens gobshites didn't pull curtains !! ha annoyed a few people by trying to get a fry yummm Went to Marble Arch (note there are no toilets only bushes) threw myself of a rock (in cave), thanks for catching me Malcolm!!!  Was pushed and pulled out the final stretch of cave, fell a lot and was the butt of a lot of jokes. Damn you Lorraine a graduation is no excuse !! Everyone was very friendly, we all had a great time, looking forward to the next trip

Hope this qualifies as a "report" its really me rambling about me (no better person : )

Oh and my lips and hands remained adequately moisturised throughout the weekend