Crashing a DCU Freshers Trip
Friday, 7 October 2016 – Sunday, 9 October 2016

After several months of not caving, enough was enough so I contacted Richard Cole, coincidentally working in Castlebar; who invited me on a DCU freshers trip. After a challenging phone conversation, I messaged Richard an address to pick me up from and hoped everything else would sort itself. A day later saw Richard wondering round the carpark looking for me. The journey down was ~2 hours, we stopped in Galway and I got ID’ed buying cheap cider. As we’d arrived in Carren before everyone else where we stopped in the local pub (only open Fridays and Sundays, of course…) to have an extremely flat Guinness that had (probably) been in the pipes since last week.

Friday night was mostly uneventful (perhaps as I went to bed some time around 1’¦) apart from a brendanesque English guy (from down South) enthusing about abortion for babies up to the age of 3, some table traversing, a nice German from Berlin telling me how illogical long distance relationships are (I agree).A nice man from Virginia (but not West Virginia) was in also attendance; a cornucopia of internationals… I reacquainted myself with people I’d drunkenly met at the forum 2 years earlier and complained about not being a student to anyone unfortunate enough to have to listen to me. At this stage the DCU treasurer came round and very kindly offered to take less money off me then he could have done.

Saturday dawned but Richard and Eabha didn’t come out of their private room for some time, once they did we eventually manged to get to Poll Cragreah. Arriving at the cave I was provided with a helmet, a furry and kneepads (fucking luxury) whilst I provided my own agricultural overalls instead of an oversuit.

Poll Cragreah is pretty good fun with quite a few interesting climbs, pretty gour pools and enough misery to keep an interest. After a few hours of poking around (we didn’t bring rope for the pitch at the end) we headed out, where the farmer told us how we hadn’t spent very long down there and we couldn’t have done very much as we hadn’t spent over 5 hours there.

After this we headed to Lisdoonvarna where the matchmaking festival was on, our luck was in and Eabha’s dad was chauffeuring Bernard (age 82) to the LGBT week. Lisdoon was decorated with rainbow flags, which for rural Ireland was great. We got fed Guinness whilst Eabha’s dad educated the waiter on the poor quality of their white wine; ‘I’ve drunk a lot of wine and this is one of the worst I’ve ever drunk’, ‘It’s bland, do you know what bland means?’. A nice romantic Chinese (with me 3rd wheeling) was had and we headed back to Carren.

The next day saw us all up fairly early and we headed down Callaun 1 for some stomping passage. A fairly miserable entrance (similar in appearance to a large badger set) soon leads into a reasonable streamway. Stomping passage interspersed with fun climbs ensues for a while, but eventually the passage gets smaller and smaller and one has to crawl. A bit more crawling (200 yrd according to the cave graffiti helpfully provided by UBSS) sees one at the top of the 3rd pot. A handline is recommended for this but we only had some of Richards ‘digging'(?) slings these were larks-footed together and draped over a stal. Bomber. Flat out crawling is the continuation after this but none of us felt that enthused and Eabha not missing her lift to Dublin gave us an excuse to head out and back home.

A cracking weekend away in 2 small(ish) but interesting caves, cheers to Richard (& Eabha) for inviting and transporting me and to DCU for putting up with me gate crashing. Would thoroughly
recommend cavers and caving in Ireland.