Poll Na gColm

Poll Na gColm

The Burren is home to the largest cave system in Ireland, the entrance of which lies about four miles from Gregans Castle. It comprises 15 kilometres of underground passages. The entrance is called Poll Na gColm (translated from the Irish as ‘the hole of Colm’). In The Book of the Burren, Ann Korff writes that the Irish ‘Colm’ means ‘rock dove’, and that the favourite habitat for these birds is cliff edges (p. 26). Incidentally, rock doves make a guttural sound, like that of Tolkien’s character Gollum.

The entrance to Poll na gColm is a hole of one hundred feet deep and about a hundred feet across. It is so great a drop that a mature ash tree grows in the hole, and the tree canopy is well below ground level.

I (Peter Curtin) together with some friends – Dave Birge and Tom Molloy – walk almost every Sunday in the Burren landscape, one of the greatest places in the world, and it is easy for me to understand that Tolkien would instantly tune into the magic of the Burren. I believe that Tolkien, in writing the way he did, demonstrates the necessity for us to keep the umbilical connection with our natural instincts, and our environment alive and healthy. We need to tune into the nature to keep us on the true path of living.