Ireland’s Dunnmore Caves

Emily Cable is a student at the University of Rhode Island and an ISA Featured Blogger. Emily is currently studying abroad with Interstudy in Dublin, Ireland.

Cave enterance
The cave entrance from inside!

While in Kilkenny we had the chance to go visit the Dunmore Cave. This cave is a  long connection of limestone chambers that are over one million years old. The ceilings are covered in stalactites and underneath are their constant companions, the stalagmites.

Cave Buffalo
This is “The Buffalo”, a calcite formation on the wall. Can you spot his shape?

This cave has a dark and interesting history. Its first mention in history was in the ninth century Irish Triads. In 928 AD the Dunmore Cave was the site of a brutal Viking massacre. The Vikings were attacking the village above; as the men fought to protect their homes, the women and children looked for safety inside the cave, but their sanctuary became their demise. The Vikings followed them into the cave and tried to smoke them out. Unfortunately, due to the lack of oxygen at the low depths of the cave, this only resulted in suffocating all of them. The bones of the villagers can still be found within the depths of the caves.

It is thought that the village people had used the cave before for shelter and their previous pursuers did not follow into the cave as caves had negative connotations in Irish folklore. It was thought that monsters, such as dragons, lived within them.

Though this cave has a dark history, there are some less upsetting stories that go along with the Dunmore Caves. The first chamber you enter on the tour is that of the “Fairy Dance Floor”. It is an odd area because unlike the rest of the cave, the floor is completely cleared of access rocks and rubble. The Irish folklore says that fairies clear the floor to dance in this area. If even if you throw a stone into the middle, they will come and wipe it away.

Leave a Reply