Marble Arch Caves


Useful Information

Location: 19km from Enniskillen, follow A4 (Sligo Road) for 5km, then A32 (Swalinbar Road). Well signposted.
Open: MAR-JUN, SEP-OCT daily 10-16:30. JUL-AUG daily 10-17.
Fee: Adult £6, Children £3, Concessions/OAPs £4, Group (>10): Adult £5, Children £2,50, Concessions/OAPs £3,50, Family Ticket (2 Adults and 3 Children): ££14.
Classification:  Karst cave,  river cave, Carboniferous limestones.
Light: electric.
Dimension: Area=2,200m².
Guided tours: D=75min.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Marble Arch Caves, Marlbank Scenic Loop, Florencecourt, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland BT92 1EW. Tel: +44-28-6634-8855, Fax: +44-28-6634-8928.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:55:50 $

History

 
1895explored by  E.A. Martel, the famous French caving pioneer.
29-MAY-1985opened to the public by Fermanagh District Council.
1989a period of increasing flooding.
1998Cuilcagh Mountain Park set up by the Fermanagh District Council to protect unaffected areas of the blanket bog and increase awareness of this rare habitat.

Description

Marble Arch is a  river cave. The first part of the visit is a boat ride on the subterranean Claddagh River.

The visitor center near the cave entrance introduces the visitors into the forming of caves and the history of Marble Arch Caves. Beneath several displays, a 20 min video is shown. From here the visitor walk down Cladagh Glen to the cave entrance.

The so called wet entrance, is the place were the undeground river leaves the mountain. The visitor are boarding an electrically powered boat and float up Cladagh river to Junction Jetty, where three smaller rivers join to make a river big enough for the boat. Here the boat ride ends and the rest of the cave is toured on foot.

The Grand Gallery was first explored by  E.A. Martel in 1895. The narrow part of the passage, which compelled Martel to stop, is today passed through an artificial tunnel. The visitor then enter the New Chamber (guess why it is called so...).

The rest of the passage, after this short dry interlude, follows again a river upstream. Its the Owenbrean river, one of the three tributaries of Cladagh river. The cave is left through an exit in the side of this passage.

The water in this karst area is regulated very much by the vegetation, as common in all covered karst areas. The Cuilcagh Mountain above the cave were originally covered by peatland with blanket bogs. But commercial peat cutting, sheep over-grazing, uncontrolled burning of vegetation and use of quad motor bikes were destroyed huge areas of this natural water reservoir. But then the mechanised peat cutting increased. A single machine cut as much turf in a day as had previously been cut in a year. This destroyed not only the peatland habitat, but also the water accumulating and and peaks compensating qualities were lost.

The Cuilcagh Mountain Park was set up by the Fermanagh District Council in 1998. Peat cutting was stopped and more than 1200 small dams were put into the drains to build up the water levels in the bog. A weir upstream of the Marble Arch caves holds water back. And the museum at the cave entrace was built to tell the visitors the background of this park.

See also


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