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Noon's Hole, (OS 209348) Nr. Boho, Fermanagh

Noon's Hole lies about 5km. N.W. of Boho. At 250 feet, this pothole is the deepest in Ireland.

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Article written by Brian Willis.

Noon's Hole lies about 5km. N.W. of Boho. At 250 feet, this pothole is the deepest in Ireland. It used to be called "Sumera" meaning abyss but gained notoriety, and the new name of "Noon", after a notorious murder took place there. Ordnance Survey maps still use both names.

Dominick Noone (original spelling) was a highwayman. He was apparently of strange appearance and wore his yellow hair in ringlets down to the waist. He was a Ribbonman but also became an informer, so in 1826, his "colleagues" in that illegal organization lured him to his death at this Sumera where he was bludgeoned and flung into the depths. However his body caught on a ledge and eight days later, the police, local gentry, three magistrates and a great crowd gathered at the brink of the hole. Planks were put across and a well-sinker named Cavanagh was lowered to bring up the remains. The body was then carried to a chapel with the plan to hold a wake but it was not to be, as people blocked the doorway and prevented entrance. The murderers of Noone were never caught.

In 1879 a long ballad was composed about the event. The penultimate verse goes.

Within the mountain nature made,
A deep and dismal cave,
That suited well the murderers said,
To be a traitor's grave,
They flung the lifeless body below -
A groan they thought it gave.

Bottomless pit

So that is the story of Dominick Noone. But what of the pothole itself? A Sumera is a bottomless pit and locals treated it as a supernatural area and viewed it with suspicion and fear. However, in August of 1895, a Frenchman, M. Martel explored the cave for the first time, but he only descended 60 feet and it was not until 1912 that a group actually reached the bottom.

Comparison sketch of pothole and City Hall
Belfast City Hall could easily fit in the depth of Noons Hole.
First complete descent

In 1912, four men, Dunn, Kentish, Major Wingfield and Ernest A Baker from the Yorkshire Ramblers Club made the climb using a 105 feet rope ladder which had been built for them by Fermanagh ships chandlers and timber merchants. For illumination they wore candles in their hats and occasionally lit magnesium strips to enhance the light.

Not a lot

And what did they find on reaching the bottom? Not a lot. A "dungeon like place" some 20 feet by 6 feet wide with a small passage leading off. However after 20 feet, this passage ended in water reaching to the roof so they couldn't proceed any further. A stream pours over the edge into the pothole so climbers are constantly inundated with this deluge. At the bottom it disappears to eventually emerge about half a mile away at Ooghboragan


Click here to view a 1987 reconstruction of the first descent into 'Noon's Hole'"

Once you have seen the film, (for which you will need RealPlayer) then click for some reminiscences by one of the film production team.

Have you ever explored Noon's Hole? Do people still think it has some kind of supernatural link? Have you ever heard the ballad about Noone's murder being sung? Do you have any other stories or information about this great pothole that you would like to share.

You can contribute by e-mailing ypam-online@bbc.co.uk or by using the form below .

YOUR RESPONSES

John Paul Mc Hugh - May '06
Noons Hole is a very special part of the history and culture of Boho. We are lucky to have such a special part of history among us.

John Kelly - April '06
I have a taped copy of the BBC radio article, have also descended the pot more than once and was a co-author on Caves of Fermanagh and Cavan, the guide book to the caves of the area. The story of Dominic Noone was also covered in a work of historical faction called "The Ribbon Informer", written by Peter Magennis (the bard of Knockmore) in 1874. For a copy of the book etc. check out Amazon or direct from the publisher The Lough Nilly Press, Gortnacally, Florencecourt, BT92 1AA.

Gerry Quinn - March '06
Noons Hole is actually in BOHO and it is not the deepest in Ireland, that honour belongs to Reyfad pothole which is also in BOHO about 2km away which is 180 meters or 540ft. I used to live in the closest house to this pothole. There is a plan to erect wind turbines around the site so that will probably ruin the whole scenery.

Kevin O'Hagan - June 05
Been down Noon's many times and nearly didn't come up in 1975 while training for a major caving expedition. I feature in the credits of Brian Willis's film.

Dessie McKenzie - April '05
"THE BALLAD OF DOMNICK NOONE." :

My sister Eileen McGourty (nee Mc Kenzie) has quite a lot of information on Domnick Noone and has sung the Ballad Of Domnick Noone on radio in the past. As the Noones Hole pothole and caving systems in Boho are unique and famous my Father dedicated a lounge at the back of our bar (The Linnet Inn , Boho) to them. I am hoping to hang the words to the Ballad of Domnick Noone outside the cave lounge along with some detailed drawings from the cave in the future. I am also hoping to include Noone in a nostalgia section on The Pubs website. when i get it up and running.

Any info on Noone can be obtained where possible through me or by arranging a visit out to the bar in Boho, where my sister can fill you in on all the information about the legend that is Domnick Noone.

Jeanna Long - March '05
James, thanks so much for the tips. I am in the U.S. so sort of puts a slow go at it ya know. I do so thank you for your response and sorry so long to check for one. If you know of any sites that might be helpful in this search let me know.

James Fee - January '04
Jeanna, try Enniskillen Library. Also local history groups in Belcoo and Blacklion. Harold Johnson in Blacklion - across the border might enlighten you.

Jeanna Long
I have been told that a radio station did a remake about the murder of Dominick Noone in the 1980's. Transcripts of the trial and such, as well as that song. I have been in search of it since I was told of this information. Anyone know where to look or remember it?


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