The blind descent into the rift of Pol na Leprechauns
Moss covered upper half of the rift of Pol na Leprechauns
In Spring I photographed and wrote about Deep Pot in North County Leitrim, an impressively formed series of potholes that descend from a hidden and seemingly uninteresting rift in the blanket bog of Largy. Nearby Pol na Leprechauns also matches this description and, although at 85 meters deep, is a little less profound it is equally as impressive and possibly more pretty.
It is, likewise, a much overlooked pothole and appears to have been last explored at least 20 years ago, or perhaps many more. Suffice to say, it has seen few visitors, being first descended in the 1950s and 1960s by British speleologists. (YRC Committee 1954, Batty, J.F. 1960). There was certainly a visit by Dónal Gilhoys’s Irish Speleological Association, possibly in the 1970s, as the group left the initials ‘ISA’ painted on a wall between the first and second pitch. Despite this they left no other record that I know of.
The view of the second pitch from near the bottom of the first
The window before the short final pitch
One of the first things that caught my attention about this cave is it’s somewhat sappy name, thinking perhaps it was christened in the 1950s by its Yorkshire visitors. In fact, it appears to be an original name taken from the historic 6 inch map and supported by contemporary folklore of the area’s hill farmers who described how:
When a child dies its spirit may marry that of another dead child and the fruits of the union are the leprechauns, tiny fellows about eight inches high who live in the potholes on the moor. We were carefully instructed how to catch them… [but] being fairies, [they] leave no trace except the straw stalactites called in some places “fairy pipes”. (Stembridge, 1954)
Large chamber and aven at Pol na Leprechauns
The cave itself starts with a beautiful 25m daylight pitch down the moss-covered walls of the narrow rift and is proceeded by four further pitches. The middle three are very fine shafts although the huge amount of loose chert scree makes access difficult and somewhat dangerous. Near the bottom, a purer limestone prevails and there are short developed passageways which become extremely muddy.
The Beautiful Fourth Pitch at Pol na Leprechauns
The exploration of Pol na Leprechauns is ongoing and is being perused by Shannon Group.
BATTY, J.F. Irish Meet (1960) Journ. C.P.C., 1960,2,353.
STEMBRIDGE, H.L. (1954) Some Potholes in Leitrim – Eire. Yorkshire Ramblers’ Club Journal Volume 8 Number 27: pp1-8. Leeds: YRC
YRC COMMITTEE, (1954) Cave Exploration. Yorkshire Ramblers’ Club Journal Volume 8 Number 27: pp83-89. Leeds: YRC
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