Discover a Hidden Earth

What is Caving?

Caving is the exploration of natural underground spaces. It is an adventure sport with inherent risks; many caves are cold or wet or muddy, or all three.

If you don't mind all that it is also a chance to explore a unique world very different from the surface. Even in Ireland it is possible to go where few or even no people have been before. Technically potholes are caves that include vertical drops and therefore require the use of ropes and or ladders but most people use either word for the same activity.

What does SUI do?

The Speleological Union of Ireland is the national organizing body for caving throughout Ireland. Membership is open to anyone interested in caving, for a small fee.

The Speleological Union of Ireland receive a grant from the Irish Sports Council which is used to provide a number of services for cavers such as training, newsletters and magazines, an annual symposium, insurance, expedition grants, library and cave access agreements.

What is Speleology?

Speleology is the scientific study of caves, trying to understand why they have different shapes, why caves are found in some places but not in others.

Some caves are high and narrow, some are round in shape while others are square. Speleology studies the formation of caves and involves studying the minerals and life forms found in caves. It includes aspects of geology, geography, chemistry and biology.

What is ICRO?

ICRO stands for the Irish Cave Rescue Organisation. It is made up entirely of volunteers who may be called upon by the police services throughout Ireland to assist in cave rescue.

Any caver with a reasonable amount of experience would be expected to join the general call out list once they have comprehensive insurance. ICRO also has a Core Team made up of cavers who have trained in special rescue techniques and who regularly update their skills.

Photo of caver standing over a rift

Single Rope Technique Training Course

SRTThe SUI is delighted to announce that there will be a new Single Rope Technique (SRT) training course running over the weekend of 4th and 5th October 2014 in Co Fermanagh.  SRT is the technique used is negotiating vertical sections of caves involving the use of harnesses, rope, karabiners and other technical items of caving equipment.  For most cavers this represents a core higher skill and use of SRT opens up a huge range of caving possibilities both in Ireland and elsewhere.  The course is open to SUI members and up to 6 attendees can be accommodated.  The weekend is aimed at those with little or no SRT experience and SRT equipment will be available for loan (although attendees are welcome to bring their own kit).  The weekend will involve a days indoor training on the Saturday in Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh followed by an underground day on the following day.  To book your place or find out further details regarding venue and paying email
SUI membership can be purchased here. Accommodation suggestions can be viewed here or alternatively the Aghnahoo cavers cottage is an option.  Please note the course does not include meals.

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Upcoming SUI Courses: book now!

BCLComing up soon are two SUI courses: book now to avoid disappointment!

Caving Fundamentals: the ideal introduction to the sport of caving. This two day residential course which is being run over the weekend of Friday night 5th til Sunday 7th September, provides a solid basis to the practice of caving through a series of lectures, equipment demonstrations and of course caving trips! The course is being run from the Burren Outdoor Education Centre, Bellharbour, Co Clare. Cost of the course is  €150 with balance to be paid on arrival.  Please note that price includes tuition, food and board and deposits are non refundable.  Caving Fundamentals is a prerequisite to Basic Cave Leader (BCL) training which is due to take place in October.  As an extra special offer on this occasion from the SUI the fee also includes basic SUI membership from the date of the course until the end of the year.  To book a place email and to pay email

For more information on the Caving Fundamentals course click here


Basic Cave Leader: this is the SUI’s basic leadership qualification in caving and is used in the outdoor education and pursuits industry as well as in recreational caving. The training weekend is being run over the weekend of  Friday night 17th til Sunday 19th October at the NUIG Research Station, Carron, Co. Clare. Cost of the course is  €165 with a 10% discount applied if a place is booked and a deposit of €50 paid by 8th of September 2014. Balance to be paid on arrival.  Please note that price includes tuition, food and board and deposits are non refundable.  Please note that Basic or Full SUI membership is a prerequisite for BCL training.  To book a place email and to pay email

For more information on the Basic Cave Leader qualification click here


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Our Wee Caves – Irish Caving Blog

Pollbwee by Tim Millen

Pollbwee by Tim Millen

Whilst we are on the subject of blogs check out Our Wee Caves: a wonderful blog describing the caving activities of a group of Lisburn based cavers led by SUI member Tim Millen.  The site includes photographs and videos from sites where little such material has been recorded in the past.  The blog even has a Twitter account @ourweecaves so you can keep up to date with the group’s activities!

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‘Caves of Ireland – a Photo-Journal of the Irish Underground’


Photo by Robert Mulraney

Leitrim based caver and SUI member Robert Mulraney has started a photography blog capturing beautiful images from some of the caves of Ireland.  Entitled ‘Caves of Ireland – a Photo-Journal of the Irish Underground’ there have been entries from a number of sites already including the recent discovery of the Pollfaffin entrance to Pollrunda on Largy, Co Leitrim. Robert is a member of the Breifni Caving Club and we wish him all the best as his journal of photographs enlarges. The blog is available to view here and Robert can be contacted via the site (why not offer to go caving with him and carry boxes of photographic gear – always guaranteed to please any cave photographer!)

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New through trip on Largy


Photo by Robert Mulraney

On Saturday 19th July a significant new find was made by SUI members from a joint Shannon Caving Group – Breifni Caving Club party to the Largy region of Co Leitrim.  The cavers had been participating in an Irish Cave Rescue Organisation practice in the area earlier in the day.  A small crawl previously un-pushed at the bottom of Pollfaffin led to a chamber with a rift pitch entering the adjacent shaft of Pollrunda.  More details can be found on the Shannon Group’s webpage here who should be contacted for up to date advice on visiting.  Irish Speleology 20, the journal of the SUI,  contains a guide to the caves of Largy (including Pollrunda and Pollfaffin) and can be purchased via the SUI shop.

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SUI Training Day in Co Fermanagh a success!

Well done to the SUI members who successfully completed the second SUI training day on resin bolt placement recently.  The training event was run at Boho, Co Fermanagh and completed by Brian McGavin, Michael Marek, Seamus Breathnach, Shane McKinley and Tony Furnell.  Resin bolting training is in line with the SUI’s Bolting Policy.  The SUI’s Bolting Officer can be contacted at to ask about further training and to arrange resin bolt placement by one of the list of trained cavers




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SUI Library: new files added!

Vertical cavingHave you checked out the SUI Library Online yet?  Members can access it via the Members Only section of the website.  A further 20 files have just been added; mainly SUI newsletters with plenty of interest: from the glory of the 1.5 km extension to Polnagrai in 2000 to the depravity of the first few Irish Student Caving Forums; it’s all here!





Photo by Nigel Ball

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CIC Training

CICGood luck to the four SUI candidates going for Cave Instructor Certificate (CIC) training in July. CIC is the highest level of professional qualification available in Ireland and the UK qualifying the holder to instruct in all aspects of caving activity, at any level, and to all types of  groups, without restriction.  The SUI is providing support to the candidates and we wish them all the best in their training (and subsequent assessment!)

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‘Tracing Pollnagollum Cave’ walk with Dr David Drew


X4The Burrenbeo Trust runs a regular series of themed walks in the Burren, Co Clare the latest of which is being hosted by hydrogeologist and caver Dr David Drew.  The theme of the walk is tracing the surface features of Polnagollum – the longest cave system in Ireland – The walk is on 6th July at 2 pm starting near the Faunarooska car park and will be of great interest to cavers.  For more information see here

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Ireland’s Fastest Rope Climber Challenge 2014

Coinin O'Hare poster SUI logoFancy yourself as a bit tasty at SRT?  Do you routinely advise lesser mortals on where they are going right and wrong in the noble art of rope work? Think your club is the only one worth talking about in terms of vertical caving?  Prove it!  This year at SUICRO the annual SRT (Single Rope Technique) race will aim to find the fastest rope climber in Ireland. Clearly as cavers we believe we have cornered the SRT market.  WRONG. There are others out there who use the same equipment such as climbers, arborists and rope access technicians and guess what? They are being invited too! Such events are the norm amongst caving bodies in Europe: if you don’t believe us have a look here, here and don’t forget Grimp Day. The race will take the form of an obstacle course with a variety of devious features.  The number of entries is limited to 20 individuals with 5 of these places reserved for non-cavers. Entry costs 10 euros and includes the chance to win some serious ropework-related goodies.  However clearly the real prize is to be crowned the official Fastest Rope Climber in Ireland.  Glory awaits! There will be 3 training events in the country (Dublin, Fermanagh, Clare) prior to the event to sharpen up skills!

For more information on the competition including rules, requirements, training sessions and permitted equipment email

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