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.
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.
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.
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.