A Group on the Underground River Cladagh
While the entrance to the caves had been well known for a time, it wasn’t until the late 1800s that the caves were first explored. With only candles and flares to light their path, Edouard Alfred-Martel and Lyster Jameson explored the caves, using a canvas boat to make their way along the underground rivers. They were the first to chart sections of the caves and peaked the interests of many budding explorers who then picked up where the pair left off. In May 1985, the caves opened to the public and have since welcomed over a million visitors from around the world. In 2001, it became part of the first geopark in the UK and, in 2008, its boundaries extended into the Republic of Ireland and became the first ever international geopark.
Today, the caves are a popular tourist attraction with a number of additions since their original discovery including lighting and walkways. Descend into the caves where your tour begins along a subterranean river, the Cladagh, on a boat which will take you through to the dry parts of the caves. From this point, you’ll be walking through the remaining chambers and enjoying the immensity of the caves with their great collection of stalactites and stalagmites throughout. To make sure you don’t stray from the path and that any questions are answered; each tour is led by an experience guide. Beyond the caves and their immensity, on site there is a restaurant, gift shop and exhibition area which includes insight into how the caves were formed and what it would have been like for those who first explored it.
When coming to the caves, remember to wear a warm jumper and a pair of comfortable walking shoes. The tour lasts roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes and may not be appropriate for someone with limited mobility or in poor shape though it shouldn’t be a problem for most.
Self Catering in County Fermanagh
Self Catering in Northern Ireland
Words by John Temke