Freshers Trip 2016

On Friday the 7th of October 12 of us set off to Doolin in Co. Clare for the annual freshers trip. Arriving late on Friday evening we settled into the house for the night and planned the weekends caving.

Saturday morning after making breakfast, lunch, and sorting out caving gear we headed to Poll Dubh just outside Lisdoonvarna. With six new cavers on board this seemed like a good cave to start with. Thelma led the Poll Dubh trip bringing the freshers through low crawls, phreatic tubes, and under a small waterfall before moving up towards the exit where the passage gets quite narrow. After getting out of the cave some of us went back in the northern entrance for a look at the traverse passage.

After lunch al fresco Jack, Becks, and Sarah led the next trip into Poll na Grai, a more challenging cave with some climbing required to get in and out.

After a fine home cooked dinner (Thanks Thelma :D) we hit the Doolin strip, visiting a few packed pubs we eventually settled in McDermots

As the sun came up anyone not hungover or broken from the previous day kitted up and went to the Doolin River Cave. After a short trip we packed the cars and headed back to Dublin.

Thanks to everyone who helped organise the trip and well done to our new cavers:

Kieran, Nicholas, Marek, Alex, Mia, Kiefer 

Freshers Trip 2015

This year for a change of scenery we took the freshers trip to Carron in Co. Clare where we stayed the research station. More to follow... but for now I'll let the pictures document our trip.

 

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Fermanagh/Monaghan trip 21-22 July 2013

The Drought, or, the Petie-Hasn't-Caved-in-Ages trip to Leitrim, Fermanagh and Monaghan, 20-21 July 2013

DIT Cavers: Stephen 'Lame-Duck Presidenté' Brandon, Stephen 'Graduate Steve' Bourke, Peter Francis Dunhill De Barra and Clodagh Whatsherface.

 We made for the borderlands on Saturday morning, since our recently-deposed President was busy on Friday. (We understand he was enjoying a 'bunga bunga' party on the Bray Sea Scouts superyacht when the engine failed, leaving him adrift in Bray harbour.) Saturday can be remembered as the fateful day Met Éireann declared a drought after fifteen days unsullied by any more than 0.1mm of rainfall, and a continuing heatwave. Vegetation was wilting and turning brown, newspapers caught fire in direct sunlight, and Cavan County Council was constructing a massive sandcrawler outside Belturbet so that local government might survive the catastrophic desertification to come.

Naturally we hoped to save ourselves. We headed straight for the Claddagh Glen, and put on wetsuits in the car park to appreciative whoops from passing motorists before marching ourselves bare-chested to the entrance to Cascades. We made terrible time, barely making it past the entrance series before hitting bingo hour and turning around. That's when the unremarkable trip became one on which I intend to make some long-winded remarks.

On our way back, we came across an ICRO rescue dump which had been there for a rather long time indeed. Along with the largest Daren drum I've ever seen, there were a couple of ammo boxes painted in ambulance colours. One of the ammo boxes had boring first aid stuff in it, and I'm assuming the Daren Drum had the makings of a field hospital under the top layer of bandages.

The other ammo box was a dump of emergency rations. The defeat of the dessicant packet left the food defenceless, and the packets swelled grotesquely with moisture. We can date the manky time capsule at about 30-35 years old based on the labelling – the latest copyright on any soup packet was 1978, and the decimal halfpenny wasn't used after 1984. Plus, the 'One Man One Pan' Cheese and Onion (Cheese and onion what exactly?) and various quick soups in the box didn't even have use by dates, which makes them older than me at the very least. Nice.

The human impact on caves includes everything from the bolting at pitchheads to the smoothing passage of a thousand cordura arses on the limestone. With all the talk of shiny flowstone, we don't often consider the other crap that ends up in our caves as anything other than litter. Good caving country is usually rugged land inhabited by the expedient and removed from such wimpy urban luxuries as municipal refuse collections. This can mean an aggressive household policy of waste segregation, composting and reduction at source; or just dumping it in the nearest pristine speleological environment. For example, Clare's Poll Cragreagh is famed for a gentleman's boot petrified in calcite before the second pitch (UBSS, 1969: 167), and no visit is complete without visiting the cache of retro domestic waste upstream of the entrance. Cave pollution is bad news, but even the cleanest holes feature bits of fertiliser bags washed in during floods.

The caving community's preparations for nuclear war couldn't save us from the hunger gnashing at our bellies. That evening we scrounged what food we could in what remained in the scorched lands above ground. The local warlord Quinn fled the the region several months before. Without the employment of his works and the harsh rule of his lieutenants, the land was reverting to base anarchy. No meat could be found for miles, save for the few sausages and vegetables a fuel trader spared us. These made a passable meal, and we made camp for the night.

Creevy Cave in Co. Monaghan was our target for Sunday. We travelled many miles before breaking our fast, as food remained scarce. Creevy took the mantle of the longest cave in Monaghan after making a pair of cave divers very unhappy about its refusal to sump off. When Al Kennedy and the late Artur Kozlowski returned to survey it with Robin Sheen, they noticed evidence of human activity – including half a millstone sitting in the middle of the main streamway.

Creevy is still enthusiastically aquatic in nature, with plenty of low crawls through canal passages half full of water at swimming-pool temperature. El Presidenté got the willies when he was shown evidence of an airbell; it seems he hadn't realised that most of the other caves he's been in flood to the ceiling too.

The really cool part of Creevy is the souterrain. Al and Artur kidnapped some archaeologists and forced them to take samples, leading to the conclusion that the cave had been used as far back as the middle ages as a place of refuge. Pottery fragments indicated its use during the Cromwellian period too, making Creevy a prime spot to wait out the chaos of the midday heat on the surface.

Clodagh was less fortunate. Laid low by the attack of some fell tropical insect, she stayed with the car while we took refuge. Brave soul. It was clear that the locals were suffering the effects of the heat. After subtly hinting at his abundance of road frontage, a passing bicyclist enquired about Clodagh's marital status with a glint in his eye. How long, we wondered, until the chaos of the heat and food shortages led to base debauchery and polygamy? Would the men in control of the prime farmland seek their base toll from desperate travellers?

We made a retreat towards Dublin, stopping only to raid a doctor's surgery for Clodagh's ailment. In Dublin, where sea fog and air conditioning seemed to be keeping at least some of the population sane, we might make a stand.

 

 

 

Canyoning - Alpes Maritimes

Here's a video from our canyoning trip to France last September.

20th Trip Report

As I write, I'm phoning DIT Caving Club “grown-ups” to sort out transport arrangements for a New Year's trip to Fermanagh.  We're spending a long weekend in Kiltyclogher with cavers from DCU and Queen's, and perhaps UCD.  There's a whole lot of “where are the furries” and “who's getting the shopping” and a glorious dash to bagsie beds.  So far nobody has raised the problem of batteries, but to paraphrase Churchill, that's a problem which will will argue for itself.  

 

DIT Caving Club's twentieth year is going well.  We ran three trips so far this year, and the fourth on New Year's will put us out well ahead of the target of one trip a month during the academic year. We signed up sixty members at the start of the year, and about twenty of those have trained or caved with us.  We even have a permanent store on the new campus site at Grangegorman, or at least until they bulldoze it to build the new college.  

 

DIT's caving tradition is older than DIT itself – Kevin Street Caving Club's first trip in October 1992 took place two months before DIT was formally amalgamated as an institution.  That's really what caving is at DIT – a tradition.  It permeates everything we do, from the perennial Wednesday night in the pub to the Petzl Crolls stamped with “KEVIN ST” and the Bolton Street comfort sack.  I had the privilege of lighting my first caving trip with an Oldham T3, and the privilege of retiring the club's stock of ancient lights as Equipment officer the next year.  

 

It was that living history that we celebrated at the end of November with a weekend of caving and carousing in Doolin, Co. Clare.  Just down the coast from the site of the club's first trip to Fanore is the charming Hotel Doolin. Thelma Cantlon, a nice UCD girl who married into the DIT family secured a cracking deal for the anniversary celebrations.  With a cheap function room, its own beer, and two pubs between it and the self-catering holiday homes down the road, the hotel Doolin was the perfect storm.

 

About fifty students and graduates of the club came to Doolin for the function, as well as staff from the DIT Sports Office and some DCU cavers.  The students filled a house around the corner from McGann's pub, and the grown-ups booked out the hotel.  

 

Saturday morning saw trips to Faunarooska and Poll na Gree by hotel dwellers and their progeny.  House people had enjoyed a house party, and so it was a little later by the time we made it to Pollnagollum.  For some, caving was curtailed by college assignments.  Shane Fitzpatrick and Petie Barry spent Saturday around the kitchen table doing architecture. They were at it when we left and were still at it when we were showered and dressing for dinner several hours later.  

 

I'm not sure what Stephen Brandon's excuse is, but our glorious captain didn't cave at all on the weekend. I'm going to assume he was rehearsing for his job as MC at the gala dinner.  On Saturday night, John Potter and Des McNally [ed please factcheck names] gave talks and presentations about the club through the years.  Petie Barry brought the adults up to speed with what the kids' doings in recent times, and Dr. John Duncan might have mentioned the SUI before launching into a fantastic anecdote about a caver who once acquired a bicycle in unusual circumstances.  

 

Looking the pictures I imagine our forebears faced the same challenges before the first Kevin Street Caving Club trip to Fanore, Co. Clare in the autumn of 1992.  I won't claim to know much about the early history of the club – like I said, the hotel had its own beer – but the pictures gave an insight into what student life was like at the end of the last century.  The picture is so very similar to today; although the Hoo's murals were painted over, we still and sit drinking and chatting around the fireside and still cram into the beds upstairs.  

 

“Good luck and safe caving,” said John Kavanagh Sr. in an email to the committee after the 20th weekend which extolled the virtues of the ammo box over the tackle bag. “Select your partners carefully. You might need them not only as cave exploration aides, but like me, and a number of others buddied up underground you may end up settling down with them, married and produce your own army of cavers.” 

 

I understand the 'Sr.' stands for 'Starter'. I wouldn't dare call anyone who was in college 20 years ago 'senior'.  However, for the last two years we have trained up DIT cavers younger than the club itself.  Maybe that doesn't sound all that old, but the amount of times I've had to rephrase that point to minimise chortles about our founders spawning themselves a new generation of freshers suggests otherwise.

 

Steven Bourke