Aillwee Cave

The entrance of Aillwee Cave and the RegionBurren landscape in the background. (© Mathias J. Duckeck)
A tube-like passage in Aillwee cave. (© Mathias J. Duckeck)

Useful Information

Location: 60 km from Galway and Limerick.
5 km south of Ballyvaughan on the R480.
(53.0889983, -9.1437078)
Open: JAN to NOV daily 9:30-18, last tour 17:30. DEC daily 9:30-12. [2005]
Fee: Adults EUR 10, Children (4-16) EUR 5, Students EUR 8, Seniors EUR 8.
Group (15+): Adults EUR 7.50.
Family ticket (2+2) EUR 25, Family ticket (2+4) EUR 30. [2005]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave horizontal cave.
Light: LightLED
Dimension: L=1034 m, H=90 m.
Guided tours: D=35 min., L=1,130 m, max. 40pers.
Bibliography: David Drew (no year): Aillwee Cave and the caves of the Burren, The Irish Heritage series #43.
Address: Aillwee Burren Experience, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare, Ireland, Tel: +353-65-7077036. Email: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1944 discovered by Jacko McGann.
1973 first exploration by cavers.
1976 work began on making the cave accessible to the public, first tours through the cave.
21-JUN-1977 breakthrough to great cavern behind a boulder fall.
1979 tour path completed to the Highway.
1986 Jacko McGann died, age 89 years.
OCT-1988 one millionth visitor.
1989 a tricke enlarged to form a waterfall.
1992 circular tour completed.
2022 LED light system installed.


The waterfall of Aillwee Cave. (© Mathias J. Duckeck)
typical profile of the passages with horizontal ceiling.

Aillwee Cave is situated in the RegionBurren, an impressing bare karst area in the west of Ireland. It is named after the hill Aillwee (204 m asl), as it is located at its northern foot.

Unique for Ireland are the Bear Pits - hollows scarped out by brown bears. These shallow excavated pits may have been used as hibernation pits by the bears. Also, the bones of a brown bear were found at Bear Haven. Bears have been extinct in Ireland for over 1000 years.

In the Aillwee Cave, most of the limestone formations are very recent in the history of the cave itself. The knobbly stalagmites on the floor of Mud Hall are 8000 years old, and to reach their present size took over 1000 years. The larger stalagmites in Midsummer Cavern took 5000 years to form. Some samples of calcite from deep inside the cave started to form 350.000 years ago.