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Aillwee Cave - Ballyvaughan Co. Clare, Ireland

Aillwee Cave - Ballyvaughan Co. Clare, Ireland

Aillwee Cave – A timeless journey into the heart of the Burren. 

Aillwee is one of the most ancient caves in the Burren and perhaps in Ireland.  The earliest history of the cave is preserved in its roof.  In the roof of “Mud Hall” are numerous twisting tunnels cut into the rock.  These channels (anatomoses) were formed in a bedding plane above a layer of mud in the limestone by a small underground stream.

Over the millennia one of these tiny channels became enlarged into an almost circular tube filled with fast moving water, the remains of this half tube are to be seen throughout the full length of the cave indicated the route of the major fast flowing water course, gradually the underground stream cut itself in a deep trench in the rock perhaps 20-30m deep. 

The ice and snow all vanished over the years, the stream ceased to flow and gradually the cave walls in the canyonlike trench began to decay.  Great blocks fell from the walls and mud was washed in, creating a floor.  Stalactites and stalagmites started to form and the cave began to look as we see it today.

The best known cave formations are called stalactites and stalagmites.  These are pure, crystalline forms of the mineral known as calcite, the main component of limestone.  When seepages of water enter a cave passage some of the dissolved limestone may be re-deposited as tiny crystals.  Gradually these crystals build up to form a stalactites or stalagmites.

When a trickle of water enters the cave from the roof the resultant calcite deposits, sometimes take the form of a straw stalactites.  These are generally the fastest growing formations to be found underground. 

Opening Times

Aillwee Cave is open all year round. Mid November through to 22nd December mornings only.

Tour times are as follows:
10am to 5.30pm every day of the week.
10am to 6.30pm during July and August.

Contact details


Telephone: 00353 65 7077036

Fax: 00353 65 7077107


Aillwee Cave
Co. Clare


  • Guide Dogs Only
  • Open All Year
  • Nature Trail
  • Car Parking
  • Tea Room
  • Shop
  • Restaurant
  • Licensed