Shannon Trip, 14 July 2012

Fermanagh, 14-15 July 2012

Cavers: Dave, Stephen Brandon, Petie, Becks and Shane 

Photos here

An early start in Dublin saw us on the M50 for 8:30, and a leisurely drive up to the north saw us arrive at McGourty's farmyard at 11. A further hour was spent getting kitted up and walking to the cave. There was but a trickle going into Polltullyard, much less than I expected. Inside the cave it was possible to have a talking conversation up the 30m pitch, normally roaring is required. This was the first proper trip down Shannon for most, Steve and Shane were going through the Rebirth Canal for the first time. I got to bring a Peli Case through, quite a delight.  Becks is small enough to fit in with her shoulders horizontally, making the place look tiny in photos. Once we were into the big stuff we moved slowly down through the cave, stopping regularly for photos. Somehow I managed to wreck my elbow by mashing it into the wall while directing Steve in a shot. Ever the pro, I carried on. 

 

After a while I stopped taking photos and we marched on down through the cave to Swingers corner. Here one gets across a deep pool of water by swinging off a ledge on a length of rope hanging off the ceiling. Do it right and you stay completely dry. Do it wrong and you risk total immersion. Steve was the only one who did it properly, the right combination of technique and being short saw him across safely. After this another 30m of fine open passage (as opposed to the endless series of boulder chokes in the early portion of the cave) and we reached the Vegetable Patch, the final set of pretties before the cave disappears beneath the sandstone. Here we took some final photos and turned around after 4.5 hours of travel. The return to the surface was inauspicious, we emerged to glorious sunshine and boisterous sheep after a satisfying 7.5 hours of caving. 

 

A large feed of chips in Enzos was followed by a large feed of Beer in Frank Eddies. Later we caught up with Shannon Group cavers in the Bush and more beer consumption ensued. Finally at 2 o clock we finally arrived at the Hoo to find the Queens Caving Club already there, having turned the living room into a smoky opium den. There was also a grown man in shorts and a balaclava clutching an inflatable sheep and roaring ' I'm the Fermanimal! '. Delightful.

 

DIT were back up at 10 in the morning, 8 hours before Queens got out of bed, and vacated the Hoo for Clancy's of Glenfarne. Here we had a fried breakfast and then made for Bloodstones to meet Gaelan and some Shannon Group introductees. A plan was made to go to Pollnagollum of the Boats. A wetsuit and a buoyancy aid was sourced from Queens for Shane and we made for the Hills. More fine weather as we changed and then down into the cave. And what a cave! An easy boulder descent to a fine stream passage where a deep lake leads off. This is equipped with a stout rope to haul yourself through on. At the far side the passage opens out dramatically into a huge chamber with a magnificent cluster of formations on the wall. One stal is about 4m long. Continuing upstream in grand passage one clambers over boulders, and wades through pools for several hundred meters to a large boulder slope beyond which an exposed climb leads onwards to the end of the cave. The fourth lake was quite low and we all made it through to the final choke. I forced myself into a tight shreddy rift and found the passage choked. A tight shreddy climb up through boulders brought me  back to the others with a much tattier oversuit. A delightful tramp out brought us through the sump/duck and we met up with the Shannon Group people. Lovely weather on the surface again and a detour on the way home brought us to the House of Shane in Monaghan, where we were create to a fine meal by Mrs. Shane's Mother