Caving is an adventure sport like no other. Whether you're descending on ropes into vast caverns, swimming in underground rivers, strolling past beautiful calcite formations, or crawling through narrow rifts, there's no shortage of variety to be had. It's also an incredibly accessible sport - regional caving clubs are happy to take novices along and lend you equipment so that your only costs are the fuel to get there, the chocolate bar in your pocket, and a well-earned meal after! For children, the best introduction is often to go with one of the many Outdoor Education Centres that offer caving as an activity. In either case, you'll be caving with an experienced leader who can show you all the hidden wonders beneath our feet. Don't be put off by the reputation of caves being tight and uncomfortable - there really are caves for all abilities!
The largest concentrations of caves are in Clare, Cavan and Fermanagh, but almost every county in Ireland has their own caves thanks to the widespread limestone geology. With the advent of satellite imagery, caving has become the last real frontier on Earth. Every year, even right here in Ireland, new cave passages are being discovered that have never been seen by human eyes. This is exploration in its purest form, charting the unknown. That sense of discovery accompanies every caving trip no matter how well-mapped the cave system, providing a thrill that is hard to explain to friends who have never given it a go.
How Can I Get Involved?
For those who get hooked, membership of the Speleological Union of Ireland gives you access to a range of leadership and personal skills courses which can help you become a competent caver and give you the confidence to try more exciting trips. You'll also find the caving community to be warm and friendly - perhaps you'll see us all at the annual caving symposium, and listen to some of the talks from Irish cavers who have been on international expeditions each year!
If you'd like to give caving a try, check out our brief summary of Caving for Beginners (https://www.caving.ie/try-caving/) or contact your nearest caving club (https://www.caving.ie/contact-us/local-club/).