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

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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SUI Membership Discounts

AillweeQuick reminder that SUI Basic and Full Membership discounts are available as the year goes on depending on when you join, the price reducing for every quarter of the year that goes by for example joining in the final quarter of the year obviously costs less than joining right at the start of the year.  Discounted membership fees are available by emailing the Membership Officer at and arranging payment directly.  Unfortunately the facility to pay the discounted membership by Paypal does not yet exist.  Regrettably SUI is not in a position to refund the difference if you decide to pay via Paypal through the year!

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Basic Cave Leader (BCL) Training

Caving Clare 063A Basic Cave Leader (BCL) training course will be run from October 17th-19th in the NUIG Research Station, Carron, Co. Clare. This course is intended for those who need a qualification in order to lead others underground. Participants should have completed the CF course as a pre-requirement. 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

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Caving Fundamentals Course 2014

Try Caving 2013The SUI is pleased to announce it is running a Caving Fundamentals (CF) course over the weekend of  5th-7th September. Venue: Burren Outdoor Education Centre, Bellharbour, Co Clare.   CF is a residential course designed to provide a strong introduction to the sport of caving through a series of lectures, equipment demonstrations, skills development and of course, caving trips. Cost of the course is  €150 with a 10% discount applied if a place is booked and a deposit of €50 paid by 5th of August 2014. 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

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Congratulations to our new BCLs!

BCLThe Basic Cave Leader (BCL) assessment session on Saturday 14th June went well with all 5 candidates successful in the process.  Well done to Tony Furnell, Shauna McGuire, Sebastian Nalewko, Barbara Schaller and Magda Kluj!

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BCL Assessment: good luck!

GStarted_Image3BCL assessment day is tomorrow in Clare.  Good luck to the 5 candidates: you know who you are!

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