Boho Cave, located adjacent to The Linnet Inn in Boho village, is a fantastic maze of varied passage types that is always a joy to visit. Situated close to the dramatic entrance of Pollnagollum‐Coolarkin, and undoubtedly connected to it, it may initially seem somewhat more prosaic. The Entrance areas and South Series are often used for introductory trips to caving. These pleasant and walkable tunnels soon give way to over two kilometres of muddy, maze‐like passages, parts of which have fairly tight squeezes.
In recent decades the cave was unfortunately quarried with a loss of numerous chambers and bat roosts. Despite this, Boho is a fascinating place containing a mix of landscapes. The initial passages of smooth limestone and bedded black chert beds give way, in parts, to large chambers with red sand floors and superfluous amounts of stalactites. There is also a plethora of white moonmilk roofs (a testament to bacterial and chemical activity in calcite precipitate), heavily scalloped rifts, many fossils and the silent and eerie Pilaster ‘monument’.
Boho has a very interesting topography. It is not particularly deep and the area around the entrances is just under the ground surface. Furthermore, it features at least seven entrances and the distance from the river sink to its resurgence is only 300 meters. Despite this, the cave’s known length is almost three kilometres.
This explains its maze layout, where sinking water is driven through various different levels as the river expends its energy in developing complex and often grid-like passages. The guiding hand behind this is the combination of an enormous sixteen square kilometre catchment area, which channels into a single river, and a geological stratigraphy which features very highly jointed cherty limestone (roughly based on Jones, 1997).
This large catchment and unique topography can rapidly transform Boho from a place of serenity to a place of dramatic natural forces. In flood the cave can fill to the roof within an hour and it has been the scene of a number of close calls in the last dew decades. Such is the quantity of water that feeds into the system that, despite having a number of over-flow aquifers, a large surface area around the cave system can flood to considerable depth.
It is for this reason that the land around the cave has never been developed and to this day it is an exceptionally pristine patch of native forestry. In dry weather one can follow the dry river bed past smaller caves while after heavy rain the bed becomes a torrent of waterfalls. It should be noted that these smaller caves should not be entered as they are major bat roosts.
These flash floods in Boho will often leave behind indicators of recent activity. I have observed numerous branches and fence posts lodged high in the ceiling, while on the floor surface there are often seedlings growing on their initial energy reserves, as well as parasitic fungi feeding on small animals washed-in.
My interest in cave photography started having first visited White Fathers’ Caves and deciding that I wanted to document its most interesting parts. I soon found myself, models and camera gear getting cold, wet and tired and so I relocated to Boho Caves. This enabled me to have time and space to develop ideas and test equipment and lighting scenarios. Boho cave features a great variety of passage types and was an excellent learning environment.
Boho is also exceptional for having a fantastic public house, The Linnet Inn, adjacent to it. The pub, which actually features an imitation cave, is a beautiful thatched building and owner Des, who is at the heart of the Boho community, is an extraordinarily welcoming man. It would be just wrong to not stop-off here after a trip to the caves!
Note: Boho is an accessible cave but should not be visited without caving experience and knowledge of its workings. However, there are local caving groups which visit it regularly and they should be a natural point of contact.
Jones et. al., 1997. Caves of Fermanagh and Cavan. Florenececourt, Fermanagh: Lough Nilly Press.