10 Best Caves in Ireland
Caves in Ireland are spread-ed all over country. Some are smaller that others, but they surely surprise you. We have puled a list of the best caves in Ireland to help you get the most of Ireland. Learn more about caves before you go on a cave adventure.
10 Best Caves in Ireland
1. Aillwee Cave
Eagles in flight is a spectacular view that can be experienced when you visit the Aillwee Cave in Ireland. Exploring Ireland’s prime show cave located in Ballyvaughan, County Clare, visitors are ushered into guided tours of over 35,000 feet of winding passages.
It takes all of 35 minutes to walk through its caverns, bridged chasms and unusual rock formation before you are greeted by the towering waterfalls. Truly a breathtaking work of nature, the place was the product of the paths created by the melting waters of prehistoric Ice Age.
At the foot of Aillwee Cave is the Burren Birds of Prey Center hosting an immense collection of falcons, hawks, American kestrels, owls, and white-tailed sea eagles on display.
Burren Birds of Prey Centre, located at the foot of Aillwee Cave, features the largest display of falcons, harris hawks, owls, American kestrels and white-tailed sea eagles in the country. During the breeding season visitors will be able to see young birds of prey being hand reared, learn about falconry as an ancient sport and become more aware of these magnificent indigenous species and the environmental issues involved in their protection and conservation.
One of the best caves in Ireland! Worth your visit.
2. Doolin cave
Beneath a valley of limestone is the Doolin Cave. The limestone valley was believed to be formed during the warm periods preceding the last Ice Age. It is at present, covered by clays and glacial rocks. The longest stalactites in the world can be found inside the cave.
J.M. Dickenson and Brian Varley, both students at that time, discovered the cave while exploring the Burren caves as part of their requirements in the university. Being naturally curious, they veered away from their group and went on their own search. Their search led them to a tiny stream that ends underneath a majestic limestone cliff. They took away boulders and went deep into a narrow of winding passage for a good 400 meters until they wiggled their way out into the Great Stalactite, the imposing formation which took 70,000 years to form.
We didn’t add Doolin for nothing to the caves in Ireland list. It is one of the best.
3. Marble Arch Caves
The French speleologist Edouard Martel together with the young scientist Lyster Jameson, first explored the Marble Arch Caves in 1895. It was the geologist and fossil collector Earl of Enniskillen, who commissioned the two explorers to find out the depth and magnanimity of the limestone cave complex. It seemed to be a daunting task since the bog of the Cuilcagh mountain had blanketed the cave for millions of years. The pair, however, bravely made their way underneath the rocks using a collapsible boat and magnesium strips of light.
Their exploration led them to the discovery of an extensive cave system formed by the Cuilcagh river. They also came across what seems like a massive marble arch, hence the name., although it was discovered that the arch was actually a calcite structure. Martel correctly predicted that it would attract many tourists. His prediction did not come into fruition, not until a hundred years later when some Yorkshire explorers cleared blockages and installed steps and walkways to the cave.
Add Marble Arch Caves in your caves in Ireland list. You know why, the minute you set your feet in.
4. Crag cave
The Crag Cave stretches to 3.8 kilometers of surveyed passage, making it the 7th longest cave system in the Ireland Republic, and also the 10th longest in the country. It is situated outside Castleisland, County Kerry.
Crag Cave is a cave in Ireland, located just outside Castleisland, County Kerry. Local residents Dr, Donal and Margaret Geaney, developed 350 meters of the Crag Cave system to be a show cave. A shaft was placed to be the only entrance to the cave. Pathways, lights and a sound system were also added.
Guided tours of the cave last for 30 minutes, and includes the exploration of its many chambers, two of which are the famed Cathedral and Crystal Gallery.
Crag is definitely one of the best caves in Ireland. If you decide to visit, we guess you’ll like it.
5. Mitchelstown caves
Mitchelstown Caves was a beautiful accidental discovery in 1833 by Michael Condon. A crevice was found by Condon when he accidentally dropped a crowbar while doing a limestone Quarry. He looked down to retrieve the crowbar, only to find a series of chambers and caverns staring back at him.
Fueled by his determination to explore his discovery, Condon sought the aid of two boys and entered the cave with only candles and a rope, and also a burning turf to judge the crevasses’ depth. He found out that the cave is bigger than it seems, so wide and vast that the it took 12 hours for the boys’ father to find and rescue them when their candle died out.
News of the 1833 discovery spread like wildfire and visitors from all over the country came to visit this magnanimous wonder. Guided tours were organized to preserve the physical and cultural integrity of the cave. However, it was not until the early 1960s that the cave was made more accessible. The installation of electricity and footpaths in 1972 made it the first public show cave in Ireland.
6. Maghera Caves and Port
The sign post in Maghera Caves reads “Aladdin’s Cave”, hinting of a promise of being transported to “a whole new world” when you enter it. There is nothing wildly spectacular about the caves themselves, but the interplay of the dark sea caves, the shimmering silver beach leading to it, and the untamed craggy hills above, gives an almost majestic, magical vibe to the site. It is a vividly colored landscape that has not been altered by men.
The southern shore of the Loughros Beg lines the road leading to the caves, traversing steep-sided rocks where gigantic waves crash and break.
7. Bruce’s Cave
There are tens of thousands of seabirds in the northeastern corner of Raithlin Island just beneath the East Lighthouse. Offering the sight of some 60-meter-high cliffs, Bruce’s Cave can be accessed by a short swim, through the grass trail from the top of the cliff.
8. Dunmore Cave
The Dunmore Cave in Ballyfoyle, County Kilkenny is a limestone show cave treasured for is steep archaeological discoveries. It is also popular for being the site of a massacre that happened back in the age of Vikings.
It is not the largest among the caves of Ireland, with a descent of just 150 ft at its deepest point, but is host to some fine calcite formations, the most spectacular perhaps is the Market Cross with a distinct cross-shaped column.
A hoard of silver and bronze items dating back to the 970 AD was discovered in a cleft inside the cave in 1999.
9. Arigna Mining Experience
The Arigna Mining Experience pays tribute to the 400-year history of coal mining in Arigna. Ireland’s first coal mining museum features local geology including siltstones, sandstones, , and coal measures, mudstones and new forms of renewable energy.
The history dates back to the 1700s with the extraction of coal from a very narrow seam. When Charles Coote opened it, the extracted coal was originally intended for the processing of iron ore. The mine closed in 1992 when the supply of coal ran out.
It was turned into a cultural destination in the 1990s, upon the closure of the mine. Former miners were employed as tour guides. The tour commences with the main mining tunnel and holds a collection depicting the social history of the mine, and the miners, their rituals and customs. It also retained some spoil heaps as reference to the scale of mining during its heyday. The displays include mining paraphernalia from different mining stages.
Pollatoomary is the deepest explored underwater cave in Ireland discovered in 1978. The cave was explored to a depth of 103 metres (338 ft) by Artur Kozłowski on 5–6 July 2008
So these are the best caves in Ireland. Pick one or few and visit when you’re around. Enjoy the underground wanders of Ireland!