Poll na Grai

County Clare

This was my first ‘proper’ Clare cave and it gave me exactly what I was looking for. Caving mainly in the northern counties, I had a mistaken presumption that there is no such thing as a cave that one can simply walk into. An easy to access cave, relatively dry and with plenty of variation in its passageways and sights.

Surrounding wall and old pump at the entrance
Very fine passage in Poll na Graí

Right from the start it is an attention seeking cave with a circular stone wall around the entrance and, bizarrely, an old water pump suspended on a metal frame seemingly hovering over the mouth of the cave. The narrow and heavily scalloped passageways are a delight, with many segments featuring some very pure white straws and curtains hanging from the roof.

Upon turning one corner, in particular, the caver meets with a unique piece of flowstone, the semblance to which illusions were made of prior to my visit. It speaks for itself and I shall leave the rest to imagination:  

Despite the ease in which to move around this fantastic cave there are a few challenges. I visited this cave with members of Breifne Caving Club and none of us had been in it prior to this trip. We were not quite expecting the small passage which led off route and ended in a slight crack in the low ceiling.

A caver dedicated to his sport

We may not have paid it much heed only for the calcite covered gravel in the passage which hinted at something pretty in our midst. For at the end we could hear our voices echo around the walls of a large chamber and now and then our torches would just about reveal some beautiful flowstone.

The first up through the crack after some difficult wriggling, followed by myself. I had to pull down my oversuit, lodge myself in place, calm my breathing, deeply exhale and push, hoping that when I soon inhaled again I would not be stuck. It took me a few attempts and I felt like it couldn’t be done. In a fit of excitement and, perhaps rage, I asked a colleague to pull down my oversuit and undersuit. Not a pretty sight but I squeezed through and into the beautiful aven with its perfectly straight and grey slate-like walls standing in contrast to the pure white ‘waterfall’ of pristine flowstone and warm calcited walls. Truly beautiful.

A very nice first in County Clare

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