Day 15 - Caving in MitchelstownAugust 15, 2019 in Ireland ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C
We all got up earlier than usual as there was packing to be done before heading out.
Around 10.45am we set off north for Mitchelstown in Tipperary. We drove to Lismore, then up the R668 & into the Knockmealdown Mountains on the border of County Waterford & South Tipperary. The drive gave us some wonderful views of the surrounding countryside.
We stopped at The Vee, an overlook, which provided a stunning view down on Bay Lough. I was so impressed, I got out of the car to take a photograph! We passed Grubb’s Monument, a stone pillar, then took a sharp hairpin bend & descended down to Clogheen & on to our intended destination, Mitchelstown Cave, dubbed ‘One of Europe’s Major Showcaves’.
We arrived around 11.30am & paid our entrance fee, the rather hefty €9 each & we were told to wait up the path for the next tour to start at midday. Luckily for us it wasn’t raining, apart from just a small shower.
At 12.00pm, our tour guide opened the gates & wooden door. We & about 30 other people descended the 88 steps down into the dark dank cave. Once we were all down into the cavern, our enthusiastic tour guide, told us that the cave had been discovered in 1833 by local farm worker, Michael Condon. The cave is privately owned & wasn’t developed & opened to the public until 1972.
The cave consisted mainly of three accessible large caverns, which contained the usual stalagmites & stalactites, but also included the rather impressive 9 metre tall speleothem, the ‘Tower of Babel’. In the largest cavern, known as the Concert Hall, we were told that it hosted many musical events & was a film location for Series 5 of the TV show The Vikings.
The tour guide invited someone from our tour group to sing a song to emphasise the extraordinary acoustics. This was Angela’s golden opportunity to become an overnight singing sensation, but she declined the offer. I didn’t blame her!
After 40 minutes the tour ended with us climbing up the 88 steps back out. It was a pleasant little Cave tour, but I would genuinely be surprised if it was actually ‘One of Europe’s Major Showcaves’.
We returned to the car & removed our coats & put them in the boot. As we were doing so, I saw Chris put his mobile phone on the top of his car & my immediate thought was “I hope that doesn’t scratch the paintwork’. Both Angela & Jackie noticed Chris put his phone on the car & thought ‘I hope he doesn’t forget that’. Apparently even Chris thought to himself, ‘I mustn’t forget my phone’ when he put it on top of the car!
Needless to say we drove off with the phone still on the roof. It seemed to have clung on for dear life by the magnetic case, because it wasn’t until we had got back on to a main road & got up to about 50mph, that there was a thud as Chris’ phone crashed on to the tarmac.
Chris spun the car round, stopped & jumped out to retrieve his phone, case & business cards that were fluttering around as traffic raced past. I got out to help, but not until I had taken a couple of photos. Unfortunately the screen on the phone was shattered like a spiderweb. Surely this unfortunate incident should ‘stay on tour’, but no, not in this cruel world of cyber bullying, photos of the damaged phone & accompanying explanation were on Facebook within seconds!
We continued to Mitchelstown as planned & Chris dropped his phone off at the aptly named ‘Phone Fix’ shop. It was going to take an hour to repair, so we had lunch, coffee & a roll in The Kitchen in the Centura Supermarket. After lunch we mooched around & returned to Phone Fix about an hour later, but were told it would still be another half hour.
We had another mooch, this time round the pretty dismal market, selling mainly junk, in the New Market Square. The only thing of note was that there was a fine statue of ‘Patriot’ John Mandeville, who was a leader in the Land League wars of 1880s. He died in 1988 having spent two months in Tullamore Jail. The bronze statue was erected in 1906 & also commemorates Casey, Lonergan and Shinnick, who were shot in 1887 in New Market Square by police.
Eventually, Chris’ phone was fixed & we drove back home via Fermoy. Once back at the Cottage, we loaded up the car & we said “Goodbye” to Chris & Angela who were heading to a fancy Golf Club & Hotel in Waterford for a wedding the following day.
It turned out to be a nice sunny afternoon, so Jackie & I caught up on our social media, monitored the cricket & played a game of Cribbage, which I can’t believe I am writing this, but Jackie won. At 7.00pm, black clouds gathered overhead, so we got ourselves ready & took a 2 mile, 45 minute hike into the nearest town, Tallow.
Arriving around 8.00pm, we were disappointed to find that none of the local pubs in Tallow had any live music on that evening & the Chinese Restaurant was closed. We found the liveliest pub, T J Keniry, which had 4 people & a barman in it & ordered a much needed pint. By 9.00 pm, there was one less person than when we arrived so we gave it up as a lost cause & bought a couple of bottles of red from the supermarket.
We then went to the ‘Chipper’ & order 3 battered sausages & a portion of regular chips to share. We sat on a wooden bench in the High Street & ate our tea. We were now showing our true class! Unfortunately the battered sausages, although freshly made, had been over fried making them way too firm. We didn’t like them.
After that second disappointment, we set off on the 2 mile hike in the quickly fading light. As we passed a Stud Farm a black & white cat came running out & followed us for the next mile & a half, all the way back to the Cottage. The cat was mad, every 50-100 metres it would run ahead of us, then roll over on to it’s back & hope we would stroke it. We didn’t, but it wouldn’t take the hint.
Back at the cottage we shut the cat out & heard it meowing in the front garden. We resisted the urge to let him in, by cracking open a bottle of red & playing another game of Cribbage. Miracle don’t happen twice & I well & truly thrashed Jackie. For those who play Cribbage, I nearly lapped her!
Song of the Day - The Cave by Mumford & SonsRead more