by Julia Hawkins and Simon Kellet
Following a successful trip in 1979, the club returned to the Burren for a week this Easter. The idea was to enjoy a week of tourist caving, with no serious plans for any digging. Present were Team Silver Datsun (Fraser, Charles, John L., Julia), Team NSU (John C., Simon K., James N.), and Team Little White Mini (Brian, Steve, Dave F.)
A fairly standard set of tourist trips were done. The main omissions were Coolagh River Cave and Cullaun 3. The former was continually being planned, but in view of the flooding danger in even light rainfall and the sight of ominous black clouds, a realistic decision was made. (...OK - we jacked) It never rained a drop all week!
Trips done included Cullaun 1, 2 & 5, Doolin, Pol-an-Ionain, Pollballiny, Faunarooska, Polldubh and a Poulelva - Poulnagollum through trip. Exceptionally low water conditions were found everywhere; Cullaun 1 & 2 both had extremely high frog levels - the sump in the latter contained about ten in an area of a couple of square yards, together with several white shrimps and the odd caddis fly larva. No explanation has been found for this frog population.
The Doolin double through trip was eventful. Three very drunken Irishmen came to investigate as we prepared to descend the Fishenstreet entrance. One of them, clutching his bottle of Guinness, slipped right to the edge of the 30 foot pitch whereupon he was thrown a rope and yanked to safety. He staggered out proudly declaring that he hadn't spilt a drop.
Pollballiny was done in error by a select party intent on doing Faunarooska but apart from possession of several entrances each, there is little similarity - it is a very inadequate substitute. Fine stals and chert bands are OK, except when you have to keep crawling under them with 30 feet of ladder, ropes and flying gear. (We could have abandoned them since it was obviously not Faunarooska, but no one wanted to admit being wrong!) As Fraser said on exiting: "The only pitch was a three foot cascade which a drunken Irishman could have free-climbed holding ten bottles of Guinness and a bottle of Paddy's".
An attempt was made to open up a free entrance to the Aiilwee show cave; a dig was started at a secret (ie. we can't remember where) location, and the hole was enlarged to a length of ten feet by removal of boulders, until blocked by a particularly large one. A rabbit sized hole was also enlarged, and draughted strongly enough to extinguish tite cigarette lighter which was our only illumination; the enthusiasm to return was not mustered.
The week wound up with characteristic efficiency when location problems cused Cullaun 3 to be abandoned. Bad vibes were encountered when map reading, negative waves in the search operation, and by the time the team had discovered where to look, enthuasiasm for a longish trip was as nothing compared to the lure of the Roadside Tavern, Lisdoonvarna. Unfortunately a jack was avoided by doing Cullaun 2 instead, enabling James to cave on the seventh successive day, confirming the commonly held view that engineering students are singularly lacking in intelligence.
Non-caving activities followed the same pattern as previous years. The time was spent in O'Connor's bar in Doolin (Guinness 58p a pint, shock, horror) and in trying to coax the cottage fire into giving a reasonable smoke/heat ratio so we could at least see what we were eating. This was a dubious privilege because last year's Cordon Blee standards were not maintained, and if we did produce something edible, then Charles generally managed to sit in it.