Schoolhouse Cave


New member
      I am now approaching 81 and its 53 years since Bill Frakes and I discovered Schoolhouse. During that time, apart from a report written by Bill for an ULSA news sheet, nothing has been written describing the circumstances leading up to the discovery. So here it is.

Bill and I visited Fermanagh over a number of years, and through our friendship with Billy Sheils, we stayed in the caving hostel close to Black Rock and during those times we were fortunate to discover and explore a Marble Arch Cave extension, Harry Jacques Cavern, Pelvis Pot, Hammer pot to a point through the tight squeeze, which I gather is now bigger to enable divers to get to the sump, Schoolhouse cave and other odds and ends.

Schoolhouse Cave

      One day we were looking at a 3 inch to the mile map of the Marlbank Road when we noticed springs or wells dotted around the area which we presumed were used for accessing drinking water. We decided to find them, seek permission and take a look for any caving potential. Most had none but the odd one or two did look interesting of which Schoolhouse cave was the one and it turned out to be outstanding.

      We set off in the car and found the school, where we were met by a very nice old lady who lived there. We chatted for a short while, explaining in the process as to why we were there. We then asked her permission to look at the well at which point she promptly set off and showed us where it was.
      To our surprise and excitement it was a small cave entrance with cave passage to the left and right with water flowing past in the streamway. We asked her for rough directions as to where the source was and set off.
      We found a stream, followed it downstream for a short distance and came across a large cave entrance with the stream flowing into it. We were both gobsmacked as to its size. This was the kind of cave entrance which would have been found during the Golden Era for caving, we just couldn't understand why no caver had found it before or known of its existence. It was so obvious that local farmers or hunters must have known about it and even gone inside for a short distance.

      The entrance was about 4m wide and over 2m high with the stream flowing into it. We quickly got changed into our caving gear and set off down the passage. It has been well described before by Bill, but generally the passage was well decorated, of similar cave proportions to that of the entrance but interspersed with larger chambers. This continued for about 200m till the original well entrance was reached. The passage carried on past the daylight to a sump. Bill thrashed  his legs around the sump and thought that a free dive was possible. I held his hand and he set off and popped up into a small air bell at which point he returned. We both made our way out feeling very satisfied.

      We discussed the days findings and a few days later decided to look on the surface for any continuation of the water after the sump. Walking down the fields we found traces till we reached the Marlbank road. It seemed to go under the road into the lower fields. Crossing the road we looked for and found a continuation of the water in caves where the water surfaced and disappeared underground for short distances. We followed a number of these till we thought that no further progress was possible. The cave sections were all explored.

      Days later we surveyed the cave and its lower continuation.

      An attachment enclosed is Bills brief description that he wrote for an ULSA News Sheet





  • ULSA Review Nov 66 Schoolhouse Cave .jpg
    ULSA Review Nov 66 Schoolhouse Cave .jpg
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Active member
Dave, it is a real treat to read this, one of your descriptions of a cave exploration, and a window into your time with your pal Bill Frakes. I hope you are well and still active.

Subpopulus Hibernia

Active member
Thanks for writing that Dave. I walked past Schoolhouse Cave about 8 years ago coming down off of Cuilcagh after a spotholing trip. I didn't go in, and don't know of anyone who's ever done Schoolhouse. The resurgence has collapsed - the roof arch fell off in one big piece and blocked the entrance. It might be possible to squeeze past with a bit of effort...


New member
I came across school house cave a while ago after searching for it and it was easy found at the end up.
Its a lovely wee cave well decorated and that low wet crawl at the end is good.


Well-known member
A group of BEC members visited it last year at my suggestion. Took a while to find what we think was Schoolhouse Cave. The part we found was stream sink with walking passage and roof stal. We packed up when the roof lowered.