A Photo-Journal Of The Irish Underground

Diarmuid and Grainne’s Cave

Diarmuid & Grainne's Cave Entrance

The view of the entrance from the road

Any time I take friends to Diarmuid and Grainne’s Cave I always tell them it’s just 400 meters from the car. This is true of course but it’s only on arrival it be seen that most of those 400m are vertical!

Despite being Ireland’s highest significant cave system, Diarmuid and Grainne’s was fully formed under the sea. The shells and sea fossils that dot the limestone outcrop on the roof of the mountain above the cave mouth are testimony to this and it is from here that Sligo derives it’s Irish name, Slí Geach or Shelly Place.

In terms of beauty the cave system may not compare to other local caves but it is of significant size and it’s setting is spectacular. I have been up here numerous times and the view changes on each visit. Sometimes the clouds move in obscuring the way down from view, other times rainbows form outside the entrance.

The south chamber at Diarmuid & Grainne's Cave

The Great South Chamber

There are only a small amount of calcite formations in Diarmuid and Grainne’s Cave, however there are a number of interesting passages including the spectacularly sculpted North facing rift tunnel that leads to a balcony in the cliff face. Despite how suddenly the initial chamber closes in, the massive South chamber, accessed via a keyhole squeeze in the back wall, is an unexpectedly pleasant surprise. Also there are the Lower Series chambers, which I have not yet seen, nor do I know anyone who has been into them but they are described as being reached at by a ten meter pitch that leads to broad passages ways.

The Balcony at Diarmuid & Grainne's Cave

The view from the North facing balcony, with Michal standing on a pinnacle 400m in the air!


NOTE: As of April 2015 access to the cave via the land at the old schoolhouse is denied by the landowners. 

County Sligo Caves By County

12 responses

  1. Great to see images of this, we have been meaning to visit this for a long time but always end up messing about in the mines.


    December 3, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    • I know, there’s a lot to do on that mountain! I’ve been up to the mines a good few time but need to explore a few of the outlier sites sometime. You should def make a trip to D&G’s, it a great walk up and even better down!


      December 3, 2014 at 8:16 pm

  2. Ben

    Hello All, Ive been here before, what a place!

    What is the story with access these days.

    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    May 28, 2015 at 5:32 pm

  3. Hi Ben, thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, access is apparently closed at the moment. Hopefully this will change in the near future as it is such a fantastic place and it would be a shame to see people deprived of it!


    May 28, 2015 at 9:05 pm

  4. Most interesting to see the inside of Diarmuid and Grainne’s Cave again. It must be at least twenty years since my last visit there. Back in the late 1970’s up until the 1990’s a group of us from Sligo Mountaineering Club visited the cave at least once a year. On other occasions I brought small groups on trips to the cavern in the mountain. While I was not a caver, I had some caving experience but I was a skilled trained rock climber and a Mountain Leader. I visited most of the levels in the cave during those years. At the bottom of one shaft I found, to my surprise, a broken wine bottle. In those days we did not have digital cameras or ultra-bright lamps to record our visits. To me the cave was part of an underground river that flowed through the limestone strata before the mountain was uplifted above the coastal plains.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 10, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    • Thanks for your comment Gerry. Yes in fact the first time I visited this cave was actually with SMC some years ago! I have visited it many times since and always enjoy it


      June 11, 2015 at 12:34 pm

  5. Owen

    What’s the story with access? It says access via the old school house is denied, is there any other way?


    January 16, 2016 at 11:52 am

    • Hi Owen, as far as I know the ‘normal’ route behind the school is really the only way. I do not think it is possible to reach it from above, though I don’t know! Sorry I can’t give more info but I think this place is best avoided until access can be negotiated.


      January 18, 2016 at 10:12 pm

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