Cleaning up!

Bagging rubbish ready for removal, Carran Mine co. Clare. Photo copyright Adam Prio

The Speleological Union of Ireland (SUI), have been very active over the years with major cave conservation clean-ups, and they’ve been hard at work, this time in Carren Mine in co. Clare.

The cave clean-ups started again with the Student Forum in 2019. The SUI received a heritage grant from Geological Survey Ireland (GSI) which they used to promote cave conservation at the student forum. This included a clean-up of Pollnagossan in co. Cavan. The SUI provided the funding for the skip. Cavan County Council provided safety equipment, and the GSI grant was used to contribute to the overall running of the weekend.

Rubbish removal at Pollnagossan in 2019. Photo copyright Adam Prio.

Two clean-ups have been organised in association with CatchmentCARE, (funded by the EU INTERREG fund) a cross-border initiative. These were both run at Pollnagossan in 2020 and 2021.

This won’t easily fit in a bag! Ballymacelligott, 2021. Photo copyright Adam Prio.

The Ballymacelligott clean-up in October 2021 was a result of a year’s worth of communication and planning with Kerry County Council. They paid for all of the waste removal and were extremely helpful organising testing of water samples and giving advice on how to approach a project of that scale. Ballymacelligott is an ongoing project.

A clean-up at Carran Mine has been in discussion for several years within the SUI. Cave Conservation Ireland (CCI) got involved a year ago. The landowners were extremely accommodating and the only stumbling block for CCI was lack of funding. There was a small amount of GSI funding left over from the grant the SUI received in 2019, and this was used to fund the Carran Mine clean-up in June 2022. This is also an ongoing project. The hope is to have it completed, and the cave completely cleared of rubbish by the end of 2022.

Carran Mine Cave after the 2022 clean-up.

Cave Conservation Ireland has compiled a list of cave dumping sites around Ireland. There are currently 17 caves on the list, each requiring at least a full weekend’s worth of work by volunteers and funding for the removal of waste and PPE. The plan is to put a system in place for the reporting of cave dumping sites and to source ongoing funding for future cave clean-ups.

Cork County Council has also been very accommodating. There is a cave in co. Cork that hasn’t been assessed yet but that is a possible candidate for 2023.

If anyone is interested in helping with future work, please contact SUI.

Correspondent: Aoifa McGuirk