Doolin Cave and Visitor Centre
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Located just 2km north of Doolin village, Clare, Ireland set on the Wild Atlantic Way Doolin Cave is home to the Great Stalactite, a world-class natural tourist attraction. Doolin Cave is becoming one of the most important ecotourism attractions in Ireland. Measuring 7.3 metres (23 feet) in length, it is recognised as being the longest stalactite in the Northern hemisphere. The Great Stalactite has been opened up to the eyes of the world.
From the moment you descend over 80ft into the first tunnel, on a fully guided tour, you will enter a world carved by water. Donning your hardhat, you will follow the rough-hewn route of the early explorers who first discovered the cave. When you enter the stunning, cathedral-like dome that houses the huge stalactite, you will be briefly plunged into a world of primitive darkness. Then, in a flash, you will be awed as the subtly-lit stalactite appears before you. And, far below, a magical stream carries to the hills outside, the water that carved the primeval world around you.
History of Doolin Cave
In modern times the cave was discovered in 1952 by J.M. Dickenson and Brian Varley of Craven pothole Club based in the Yorkshire Dales. They were students at the time charting the caves of the Burren area with their university. They left their group on Whitsunday and went exploring on their own. They noticed a small stream disappeared at the bottom of a huge limestone cliff. They pulled back some boulders and dug their way into a narrow passage and managed to wriggle their way for about a quarter of a mile until they reached the large chamber that contains the Great Stalactite.
Description by Varley and Dickenson of their first view of the Great Stalactite:
“Scrambling over boulders, we stood speechless in a large chamber, of ample width, length and impressive height. As our lamps circled this great hall we picked out a gigantic stalactite, certainly over 30 feet in length, the only formation in the chamber and set proudly in the very centre. It is really majestic and poised like the veritable sword of Damocles. With our headlamps inadequately flood-lighting this huge formation we tiptoed-believe it nor not! - to the bottom of the chamber, not daring to speak lest the vibration of the first voices ever to sound in this hall since the beginning of Time should cause it to shatter."