Dunmore Caves

Dunmore Cave (meaning “great fort”) is a limestone solutional cave in County Kilkenny.

It was shaped in Lower Carboniferous limestone of the Clogrenan Formation. This cave open to the public, particularly well known for its rich archaeological discoveries and for being the site of a Viking massacre in 928.

The caves are located to the east of and close to the N78 road and about 11 km north of Kilkenny City.The entry, where a tourist centre is, has been established at the site. Overlooking the Dinnin river, it is found in an isolated outcrop of limestone.

Dunmore is not one of the largest of Ireland’s caves. It contains just a 1/4 of a mile of passages and at its deepest point, it descends to 46 m, but it holds some of the finest calcite formations. The most spectacular is the Market Cross, a distinctly cross-shaped column over 5.8 m high.

The earliest historical reference to the cave is to be found in the Triads of Ireland, dating from the 14th to the 19th century, where “Úam Chnogba, Úam Slángæ and Dearc Fearna” are listed under the heading, “the three darkest places in Ireland”. The last, meaning the “Cave of the Alders,” is generally thought to be the present Dunmore Cave, while the first two translate as the caves of Knowth and Slaney. It is not known which exact system of caves/passage tombs near the river Slaney is being referred to, with the most likely, those at Baltinglass. Other sources translate the listed locations as Rath Croghan, the cave or crypt of Slane and the “Cave of the Ferns”.

Castlecomer Rd, Kilkenny, Ireland
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