(by Dairín Currey, from IMC Newsletter Winter 2004)
A wet weekend in the Burren, doing everything except climbing.
On Friday afternoon 24th September, a small group left for the Burren (there were two climbing weddings happening the same week-end). Dennis, Martina Nolan, Dave Dye, Martina, Dairín, Joaquin, Jessica, etc. Most of us stopped in Athlone for a hearty dinner. The weary bunch arrived late, past pub closure time, but were greeted at the hostel with a well-deserved glass of wine before retiring to bed!!
As usual we co-ordinated this meet with the local ‘Lisdoonvarna Bachelor Festival’. It makes the week-end more colourful, meeting very drunken locals, oozing alcohol from the pores. The town is pumping & the Hydro disco is full to bursting point. You never know, we might even be lucky enough to catch ourselves an elderly farming husband!!
Saturday dawned, dull, grey & WET, and put paid to any ideas of climbing. However, not to be easily deterred, we organised to meet Conor O’Connor and Nick to go caving – this being our first caving experience! Fair play to Conor and Nick on their patience in bringing absolute beginners. After a wrong turn – well it was grey and dull, we found our spot and kitted up. We didn’t really have the right gear (apart from Conor, Nick and Dennis) so were an odd bunch wearing whatever old clothes we could find, not knowing exactly what to expect. We then we descended into the dark recesses of the cave. We wandered through the cold and damp, the wet water and murky tunnels twisty and turning at sometimes sharp angles. Nick was an excellent guide full of loads of information and a strong gas lamp for those who didn’t have any light. We passed a gushing waterfall and continued on further into the cave. Three hours later we finally emerged out of the cave. Most of us were at the rope ready to climb back up to safety, only Conor and Nick had other ideas and brought us back into the cave to let us try our hand at potholing. We did a belly snakelike crawl using our elbows to drag us through the tight five metres before being able to turn around and crawl back out again. I think I’ll stick to caving!!!
Afterwards, we decided to clean up with a swim and surf at Fanore Beach, before hitting the nearest pub to warm up with a few hot whiskeys and brandies and ports. We were finally able to feel our toes again!!!
We then had just enough time to head home, get changed, and meet at another pub before our dinner at the best Italian Restaurant ‘Holywell’ in Bun-something. The servings were absolutely massive – thankfully we were all sharing starters, they have the best bruschetta and the pizzas were bigger than the plates!! The wine was flowing a plenty and the craic was mighty. Dave, Jaoquin, Martina and Jessica headed home after dinner and kept up the drinking till the wee hours. The rest of us headed for another pub and kept drinking. By this stage some of us were quite tired and nodded off oblivious to the noise around. The party continued for quite a while and we eventually headed back to our hostel in the wee hours of the morning.
Sunday morning dawned, again dull, grey & WET; however, we were enjoying the sleep in and wishing our heads would stop buzzing!! We arose quite late, had breakfast and headed home. And wouldn’t you know it, the rain had stopped and the rocks were looking dry, pity it was too late!!! All-in-all, despite the lack of climbing it was a fantastic week-end and the damp weather didn’t dampen the atmosphere or the craic! Thanks Martina Nolan for organising a great week-end.