Coolagh Stream Cave
Friday, 14 December 2007

We wanted an early start to this fine but wet cave as the weather seemed to be more threatening rain in the afternoons. So little Guinness was drunk the night before and we arose at 7:30. Even though it was a fairly nice day with only high thin cloud cover and a good forecast, one still can’t help but be a little apprehensive of the weather as this cave has probably the longest flood warning I’ve ever read,

Warning : if it rains, even a little, an area covering 5% of the burren will drain instantly into the entrance, sumping it straight away, whilst any sorry soul inside then has to wait for the whole cave to fill to the roof from the bottom up, before being forced out of the resurgence in a high jet of water etc etc

The Polldonough South entrance starts in bedding with a large stream entering. Thankful of our wetsuits we made our way through the cold December water which seemed to occupy more passage than the air did. Th passage soon progresses into a traverse above the water reaches a supply dump which I guess is where you can enjoy your last meal if the cave floods. The way on then runs through a complex of low beddings with the roof covered in recent flood debris and foam, until the main streamway is met. This is followed down to a large impressive sporting streamway and through out of depth pools past the North inlet which we decided to save for another day in order to complete the round trip described in the book of lies. Worryingly there is also foam all along the main drain roof and
I need not say what the final bedding to the sump was like.

On the way out we did a canyon-style jump into deep pool beneath sporting cascade before climbing up the fixed line on the pitch we bypassed on the way in. At the top of the pitch reasonably high above the stream foam is again noted all over the roof. Yes this cave literally fills to the roof throughout, and quite frequently too by the looks of it.
We then made our way out of the main Polldonough stream entrance via another sporting passage and emerged quite surprised that the ‘Book of Lies’ grade V only took 2 hours and again was dead easy if a little wet (but not even a low airspace duck or free dive). Maybe the grade is for when it rains?
An excellent and different trip but again fairly quick and non too challenging apart from the fear of flooding. However I would definitely go back and go up the North inlet.
We also then tried to find Crucifixion cave (I forget the Irish name) but after hours on the fell we gave up as it was just a big bog and we didn’t have a map or anything to use the grid reference which was all the book gave in the way of directions apart from a rather vague map.
Then another heavy night in the local pub/folk music hotspot where we met a real life ‘Father Jack’ who’s favourite line seemed to be “F**k the World” and we met lots of young travellers from America and Europe who all seemed to grow more uncomfortable in our presence as the night grew on, the climax being Tom begging them to let him blow something up with carbide. Oh well, they should wait until ULSA returns en masse.
A brilliant short holiday with lots of Guinness anf Folk music and it would be an excellent place to organise an ULSA trip with minibus too.