The next destination in our list was the Aillwee Cave which is located in what is known as karst landscape belonging to Burren in County Clare. The name of the cave was given from the Irish term Aill Bhui which stands for yellow cliff.
The Aillwee system starts a kilometre ahead of the original caves where there are passages that run up to the centre of the mountain. The best thing about the caves is that they also have a waterfall and an underground river. We could also find that a large portion of the caves were covered with stalagmites and stalactites. On entering the caves, one can also find some remains of different sized bears.
Some of the local people told us that the area is also said to be the last home for bears in Ireland. In order to maintain the integrity of the caves and also for the safety of humans, only one third or 300 metres of the caves are opened. All visitors can travel up to a maximum point called highway and can get out of the cave through a 250 metre artificial tunnel.
These caves are considered to be way older in comparison to most other caves present in this part of the world. Many people believe that there was a stream in the caves and has been deserted completely. We came to know that the caves which are open for the public are merely over 8000 years old. However, there are many calcite formations in the deeper portions of the caves which are considered to have an age of more than 3,50,000 years.
The Aillwee caves were discovered by a farmer called Jack McGann in the year 1944 thanks to his dog who was running behind a rabbit. However, the farmer couldn’t go very deep inside the caves and neither did he tell anybody else for more than 30 years.
It was only in 1973 that the caves were explored by the government appointed cavers and they could move only up to a boulder choke. However, in the year 1977, access was achieved to the remaining parts of the cave after destroying the boulder choke.