Mitchelstown Cave is just off the main road between Cahir and Mitchelstown. Discovered in 1833, the Cave has been a tourist attraction for a tiny part of the millions of years it has been in existence. Created by the action of water on limestone, it is entered through a steep and narrow stairway. In many ways, this is the best introduction possible. The closeness of the entry passage accentuates the grandeur of the main cavern, when it opens out in front of you.
The river that created the Cave is long gone and the exit for the water is yet to be found. However, its absence allows us to marvel at the stalagmites and stalactites and ponder on the unmitigated insignificance of humankind. Our guide, Aoife, pointed us to tiny little stalactites of barely a metre in length. Water continued dripping down them as they journeyed towards the stalagmite which they would eventually join. This uncomprehending work will eventually lead to huge calcite columns like the nine metre high ‘Tower of Babel’ which has been millions of years in the making. It is impossible not to be humbled by the thought that these delicate growths will be finished when human beings are long gone from the planet.
At one point Aoife turned off all the lights and plunged the group into a darkness so total, that my senses railed against the complete lack of stimulation. We were informed that many events take place in the main cavern. Quite how its owner got their harp down for a performance, is an itch that I would like to scratch.
Nature started the Mitchelstown Cave without us and will continue without any need for our observation or commentary. Visit them while you can.