Aillwee Cave - Ireland
Aillween Cave - How it all started
It all started in 2009 when we got in touch with Nicky Johnson, the managing director and owner of Aillwee Cave in Ballyvaughan, Ireland. Then Nicky and one of his employees visited us in Germany and were given a demonstration of the installation we had completed in the Herbstlabyrinth, as well as a presentation of the ongoing installation in the Dechenhöhle. I can still remember driving from Iserlohn to the airport in Frankfurt and being quite late, but arriving in time thanks to the partial lifting of the speed limit. For Nicky’s colleague it was perhaps a bit too fast, because not that he had just turned green, no – we had to carry him out of the car at the airport, one says just not wrongly that you should sometimes slow down.
Aillween Cave - Further meetings
Then six years later, in the summer of 2015, I was in Ireland for the first time to meet with Nicky and do some first lighting tests in Ballyvaughan, more precisely in Aillwee Cave. These were very nice days in June, we did some lighting tests in the cave, enjoyed the show in the Bird Center, explored the still unchanged part of Aillwee Cave, lit the Solstice Fire afterwards and spent a nice evening with a beer or two.
In February 2016, Vladimir Vashkevich and I flew to Ireland again, this time for a technical meeting with representatives and operators of British and Irish show caves. We had to FedEx our demo equipment to Ireland and set it up in the showroom to present our products to the representatives.
A couple of joint ISCA and Cave Lighting events followed in 2016 and 2017, this time with Nuala Mulqueeney. In addition to Nicky, Nuala has taken over the management of Aillwee Cave and traveled on behalf of ISCA to various conferences and meetings for show cave operators and suppliers.
Aillween Cave - Team Cave Lighting
Sadly, Nicky passed away in 2019 after a short illness, after which Nuala took over the complete management of the company, which directly brought some changes for Aillwee Cave. But then came Corona. In mid-2021, Nuala called me and said that if we didn’t install new lighting in the show cave now, we’ d never do it again because of the circumstances in Corona. So we traveled to Ireland twice in the fall of 2021 to discuss doing the project. We researched and took the first steps.
In January of this year, we shipped the equipment needed for the lighting to Ireland via Kuehne und Nagel, where it arrived in early February. The Cave Lighting team then traveled from Germany to Ireland by company vehicle and ferry, arriving at the same time as the equipment.
This marked the beginning of the 3-month phase for us to install the lighting in Aillwee Cave. It can be said that the Aillwee Cave team had already done some preliminary work in December and January. They rebuilt the old guides, removed old cables, uninstalled the old lighting and dismantled the worn distributors. Thanks to this excellent preliminary work, the Cave Lighting team was able to fully concentrate on installing the lighting, programming and setting up the tour in the show cave.
The following people from Cave Lighting were involved in the project at Aillwee Cave:
On-site project manager: Cristian Nitulescu, On-site team: Tomas Jassus and Andrei Daniel Relu. Vladimir Vashkevich was responsible for PLC programming and all technical solutions.
Despite the commonly known problems with delivery times of large shipping service providers, we were able to complete the project without major delays and open the cave at Easter 2022. The cooperation with the team of Aillwee Cave was excellent, with no issues or tensions. The only thing that made life difficult for our specialists was the weather in Ireland, the usual island weather: wet and cold.
But what is the result of the whole project? Aillwee Cave has changed a lot since our first visit. Especially the people who knew the cave from the previous installation were pleased with the new look of the cave interior. The contrasts are now much more pronounced, many details are now clearly visible, and many new visitors ended up noticing that the cave is very exciting and not boring at all. During the tour, visitors are immersed in completely different, new underground worlds, the mystical places of Irish culture – the places where bears and elves live, where you can see and admire exclusive natural phenomena. The lighting system has given a whole new quality to the tours, and we have heard only from satisfied visitors so far.
We sincerely hope that Nuala will not regret last year’s decision in any way and that Aillwee Cave will gain new enthusiastic fans despite the difficult times.