A Photo-Journal Of The Irish Underground

Pollskeheenarinky Cave

Pollskeheenarinky Cave is one of three fantastic caves found in South Tipperary, close to the Cork border. The most famous of these caves, Mitchelstown Cave is Ireland’s oldest show cave while the other, Old Desmond, is a short but impressive sized cave with many beautiful formations. ‘Rinky itself, feels much more like a complicated sporting cave and is, essentially, a series of large abandoned chambers connected by a number of muddy crawls.

Pollskeheenarinky Cave

It is approx. one kilometer in length but requires quite a bit of time to see it all in one trip. I thought I had managed to do this on my last trip but found out later that there are a number of additional chambers beyond Quinlan’s Hall which were not on the old survey in my possession. Not a bad excuse for a return trip, if one was needed.

I visited this cave last with a 12-strong group of cavers from Breifne Caving Club, in March 2017. We took in both ‘Rinky and Old Desmond over one fantastic weekend. As much as I love Old Desmond, this cave stands in my mind as one of Ireland’s most impressive underground experiences.

Similar to neighbouring Old Desmond, access is via a rope or laddered down-climb, only in the case of ‘Rinky, the entrance is far less impressive, consisting of a tedious passage via what must be Ireland’s most impressively aggressive bramble patch! After the pitch and more tedious crawling, the cave opens up to give a taste of what is to come – a large decorated chamber with some impressive phreatic tubes.

Pollskeheenarinky Cave

Egg Chamber

Soon a relatively tough, wet and muddy crawl and junction leads left and right. We took the left turn first and, just as the misery of the crawl was about to dishearten us, we came to Pyramid Chamber. What can I say about this place? It is surely one of the island’s most incredible natural locations. The steep walls angled at 45 degrees to one another make a distinctive pyramid shape, displaying a beautiful quality of blue limestone and calcite. Right in the centre of the floor sits the ‘Altar’, a large boulder long since fallen from the roof and adding to the drama and beauty of the chamber.

Pollskeheenarinky Cave

The Pyramid Chamber

There is a feeling of isolation yet haughtiness from this beautiful chamber. Being here feels like you have been satisfied and could happily return home, but the cave keeps on giving. Just beyond, the Egg Chamber is very finely decorated with calcite straws and stals. If this were not enough, a slight crawl opens up into the ‘Castle Gardens’ chamber. There is almost too much for the senses here – a large chamber with pristine cracked-mud formations (so called the ‘Giant’s Causeway’), a high roof with a boulder collapse; while the walls are plastered in fine formations.

Pollskeheenarinky Cave

‘The Castle Gardens’

It comes to an end here and one must back-track to the misery-crawls. (It is possible to venture via some difficult passage to the western part of the cave from Pyramid Chamber but with such a large and mixed group it was decided to return via the mud crawls). From the junction, travelling west, one eventually reaches Quinlan’s Hall, named after the family on whose land the cave is located and who have played a part in the cave’s exploration and subsequent protection.

This large chamber consists of the distinctive angled walls found almost entirely throughout this cave, as well as in Old Desmond. A chamber off the south-side, while smaller, is just as impressive for the remarkable blue colouration of its limestone. I was worried taking the photo, below, that the blue tint of the rock would not be obvious in the photo. However, it came out well and is accurately represented.

Pollskeheenarinky Cave

Distinctive blue limestone found off Quinlan’s Hall

At this stage it had been a long day and the group had become whittled down to just three people. We decided we had better leave and made for a quick retreat. We were suffering from an incredible hunger and could have eaten Ballyporeen between two slices of bread but were saved by a chippy in Clogheen. Sleep came quite naturally and the next day, after some ‘exercise’ at the nearest playgound, we headed off to visit Old Desmond Cave.

Pollskeheenarinky Cave

The impressive Quinlan’s Hall

All in all, a great weekend with the Breifne crew and a great template for further trips to other caving regions of the country!

Pollskeheenarinky Cave

Breifne Caving Club

These photos were taken on outings with Breifne Caving Club and DIT Caving Club and would not have been possible without the help of Michal, Sara, Deirdre, Aly, Goshia, the two BCC Stephens, Donal, Pavel, Dada, Andrei, and DIT Stephen!

NOTE: Access to Pollskeheenarinky Cave is strictly by permission of the landowner. The entrance had previously been back-filled. Please respect this in order to keep the cave open.

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