The barren plain of East Cuilcagh in County Fermanagh hosts some of the deepest and most spectacular potholes in Ireland. While Pollnatagha is the deepest and most impressive of the dozen or so pots here, Peter Bryant’s Bullock Hole is a smaller and similarly impressive shaft.
Dropping the pitch of approximately 40m from the boggy surface is an intimidating though awe-inspiring experience. As one descends on the rope the vertical shaft, with its own mini-waterfall, suddenly bells out, opening into a massive chamber littered with huge boulders at the bottom.
I have visited this cave many times and it has always present difficulties to photograph it properly. On the first occasion, I did not have sufficient lighting power to reveal the darkest corners of the main chamber. On the second visit, armed with very large flashbulbs, I succeeded in photographing the impressive large chamber. However, leaving the shot of the main pitch until the end, I had not noticed the Autumn light quickly fade, leaving the shot devoid of the beautiful shaft of light that covers the top ten meters of the entrance. I had to return again, in recent months, to finally get that shot.
I am happy with the result but it was not without cost. While running to position to fire the flashbulb I placed my hand on a chert ledge and, for my effort, received a fine and deep perforation to the palm of my hand. When I finally stopped the bleeding (with my buff, an ever-useful multi-purpose item to take caving!), I prussiked the 40m and we crossed the bog back to the cars. It was only during the drive home that my wound reopened but I was safe from needing stitches and slowly it healed; though I may keep the scar to recall the adventure!
These photos were taken on outings with Breifne Caving Club and would not have been possible without the help of Shay, Axel and most especially Michal.
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