Underground river

Not really fishing I suppose, but this short post is about the underground rivers which lie under our feet here in the west of Ireland. This afternoon Helen and I took a walk through the woods in Cong and had a peek down the Pidgeon Hole. This near vertical hole leads down to an underground river. It dries up in the summer but at this time of year there is a steady flow of water. The whole area around Lough Mask and the north of Lough Corrib is a honeycomb of limestone and water flows freely through the maze of rivers, unseen from above. Indeed, all the water in Lough Mask empties out of the lake via sink holes dotted along the edge of the water.

Helen descending into the hole

The porous nature of the limestone has an effect on the fishing as the land acts like a giant sponge, holding huge volumes of water in these underground vaults, water which releases slowly and maintaining river levels over a long period of time.

Looking up from the bottom of the hole

The drop in temperature can be felt as you edge lower into the hole. The clamy, damp feeling increases too as the daylight becomes just a circle high above. On the bottom there is a flat area with the river running in front of you, dark and mysterious.


The river as it disappears once more into the rocks

I don’t think I fancy being down there in the dark. As it was we just took a few photos and then headed back up the steps once more.

Steady flow of water in the river

There are hundreds, maybe thousands of small underground waterways in this area. After periods of heavy rain you can see water bubbling up in fields and woods where the underground rivers are filled and the excess water finds its way to the surface through every crack.


We regained the surface and finished our loop walk in the woods. Over the stone bridge by the monk’s fishing hut on the Cong River and back to the car, ready for a nice cuppa. I can heartily recommend the village of Cong to any visitors, there is so much to do and see in and around the village. It tends to get busy in the summer months but the woods are great at any time of the year.

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