Tragic Loss: The Demise of Artur Kozlowski in Pollonora Cave

Tragic Loss: The Demise of Artur Kozlowski in Pollonora Cave
Incident LocationDiver
Kiltartan, County Galway, Ireland – Pollonora CaveArtur Kozlowski

Irrespective of the known fact that cave exploration comes with a high level of risk, some would never stop engaging in the sport. Nature entices them, and they always seek to see it in its full glory and not through the eyes of others. Kiltartan, County Galway, Ireland, is a very unique geological environment that has many underground river systems, sinks, and caves. One of these underground systems is the Pollonora Cave, which has been graced by the presence of many cave divers and was greatly explored by a diver named Artur Kozlowski.


Description of Pollonora Cave

Pollonora Cave is located in Kiltartan, County Galway, Ireland. The cave is under a large beach tree, which is on John Noland’s farmland. There are many imprints on the steps of Pollonora Cave because, in times past, the community filled their pitchers and buckets from the well at this cave. The well never ran out of water, even in seasons when everywhere was dry and there was little or no rain at all. This is because it has a limestone landscape, karst, and underground streams, which are more susceptible to flooding than drought.

196 feet (60 meters) north of Nolan’s farmland is the entrance of Pollonora Cave. The shaft at the entrance of the cave drops thick layers of fine clay that cover the bottom of the cave. Disturbing this portion of the cave by divers causes a complete loss of visibility in this zone, which takes a very long time to settle. The roof is composed of boulder clay and loose rocks. As many shafts have been discovered and explored from their length and depth, there are many others yet to be discovered in this cave.

Artur Kozlowski’s Life and Achievements

Artur Conrad Kozlowski was born on October 17, 1977, and was a gifted and dedicated cave explorer. Artur, in his lifetime, achieved great success in the exploration of new caves and the connection of different caves together, breaking the limitations on cave diving depth in Great Britain and Ireland. He reached a depth of 338 feet (103 meters) in 2006. Artur Kozlowski left Poznan, Poland, for Ireland, where he spent his last years before his death in 2011.

He was a quantity surveyor in Poland, and he continued his profession in his new environment, where he worked on several projects, most especially the Aviva Stadium and Houston Square developments in Dublin. He also compiled maps for Galway County Council and the National Roads Authority for the M18 motorway, where he worked on its design and development. Artur was a qualified diver, having made 13 warm water dives before he got to Ireland. His interest in underwater diving spiked in Ireland. Despite being an open water diver, he knew that cave diving is not the same as floating gracefully down the water. And caves have many awful tight corners, many of which are dark and challenging.

You have little information about what lies around the next bend. You must figure things out for yourself inside the cave. When you are treading unexplored paths, you can consider yourself on the journey to great discoveries and, of course, expect to get involved in some dangerous maneuvers. That is why it requires a well-trained diver to venture into a cave. Because of this, in 2007, Artur went for cave diving training with Welsh cave diving instructor Martin Farr, one of the best instructors in Ireland. He used Hell Complex, which is part of the Green Holes group of underwater sea caves off Dulan, County Clare, as his training ground.

Artur’s Discoveries and Achievements

When he first began cave diving shortly after his training, he started exploring and mapping undiscovered passages. The first significant breakthrough in cave diving was the first traverse he made between Hell’s Kitchen and Robertson’s Cave near Reef Complex. Most of the extensions of cave systems in both Ireland and Spain were the work of Artur Kozlowski. The most notable aspect of his work was the extension of the Marble Arch Cave system in County Fermana. Artur made diving connections to Prad’s Pot cascades, rising. He doubled the length of the cave system from 2.7 miles (4.5 kilometers) to 6 miles (9.5 kilometers).

These connections were later connected to the newly established Monastery Sink Upper Cradle system, which made it wider to the length of 7.1 miles (11.5 kilometers). This is the longest cave in Northern Ireland. He was not just setting records for the longest cave; he also set another record for the deepest cave in Great Britain and Ireland, whose location is in Pollatomary, near Killa Valley, County Mayo, Ireland. The cave system is 338 feet (103 meters) deep. Among his notable achievements in cave exploration is the underwater passage in the notoriously unforgiving cave passages of the Fort region, which is 6.2 miles (10 kilometers). Another was the discovery and exploration of Palindro, which is the third deepest sump in Great Britain and Ireland, which is 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) in length and 269 feet (82 meters) in depth. Artur received an award for cave exploration at the annual Polish Travel and Outdoor Sports held in Gadina in March 2011.

Artur’s Passion and Death

Because of his passion for exploration and diving, his blog is filled with the details of his underwater adventures. Many of his discoveries are published in the journal Irish Speleology and are also in Descent magazine. He was an excellent speaker and writer who commanded the respect of everyone in the diving community in Ireland. On his usual adventure of cave exploration, Artur left his home for Kiltartan, County Galway, Ireland, on Saturday, September 3rd, 2011, to explore Pollonora Cave. He went into the company of two of his friends, and they lodged at Tom Noland’s house, as he usually does.

Artur had already become like a member of the family because of his regular visits to Kiltartan to explore Pollonora Cave. He had visited this cave more than 16 times. The purpose of Artur’s exploration was to discover if he could connect this with the caves of Byrne. In that case, it would be the biggest underground cave network in Europe. He began diving on the surface of the cave on Sunday, September 4th, but went underground on Monday, intending to return after three hours. When his friends found out that he didn’t return after the time he told them he would return, they thought he might have gone far into the cave, entering new systems. They started searching for him when they became afraid of his extended dive.

Rescue Efforts and Recovery of Artur’s Body

Conor McGrath of the Irish Cave Rescue Organization stated that they hoped to find more airspaces after finding a sizable airspace halfway down the underground cave. “The airspace is near the surface, so that gives us hope that the cave may have more similar airspaces, and that he is in one of them,” Mr. McGrath said. Before the discovery of Artur’s body, the hope of finding him alive was lost after they searched for him vigorously for a few days to no avail. After facing several struggles to find Artur’s body, the rescue team sought out the assistance of the UK Dive Rescue Unit. The British rescue team was led by Coventry firefighters Rick Stanton and John Volanthen.

The rescue operation was very risky and challenging due to siltation in the cave system, which means very poor visibility. Conflicting reports came as to the recovery of his body, while the neighborhood became perplexed about finding him alive. The cave diver experts let them know that he might not have been able to survive it. They stated that he might have gone too far into the deepest part of the cave. Besides, although they may find his body, they may not be able to bring it back to the surface.

The rescue team kept searching different passages and air pockets of the cave. His body was found late in the evening on Friday, September 9th, four days after Artur entered the cave. Artur’s body was found at the then-known limits of the cave at a depth of 171 feet (52 meters) and 2660 feet (810 meters) from the entrance. His body was taken halfway through the cave system as conditions improved. The next day, the recovery of his body through the last 1300 feet (400 meters) was completed. His body was later taken for a postmortem at University Hospital Galway.

Artur’s Legacy and Honors

Artur’s legacy will forever be missed by the Speleology Union of Ireland and other diving communities where he had worked. Even the Kiltartan community also felt the impact of his death because he had been noticed for his frequent visits to the cave. Artur had visited the Pollonora Cave for exploration more than 16 times before his death on the 5th of September 2011. Artur was known to always push Irish cave diving to its furthest limits.

As he said when he was being interviewed by a radio station, “The idea is that I go where others turn back.” This is just the truth of his life. Due to his dedication and fearlessness, he was the one who discovered many of the systems of caves in both Ireland and Great Britain. He also made most of the cave extensions, making them longer than usual and connecting caves. The last adventure that led to his death was for this purpose too. In honor of his death, a documentary of his life was filmed titled “Writers on the Storm.” The film was shown at Trinity College Dublin and University College Galway.

The Mystery Surrounding Artur’s Death

There has been a mystery concerning Artur’s death because the cause seems unknown. The autopsy report revealed that it wasn’t a lack of air because he left for the underground cave with air that could last him for more than six hours, and he only planned to spend three hours. And when his body was recovered, all his equipment was intact and attached to his body. So what could have taken the life of an experienced diver? No one can tell.

Though the sport of cave diving requires extreme mental and physical fitness, Artur was found devoted to it passionately till death. This is an attribute of all successful men; death is not able to scare them out of their passions. He went as far as surpassing the limits of the man that trained him, Martin Farr, the Welsh cave diving instructor. His discoveries of new caves are his long-standing legacy in the cave diving community. A man who lived his life to impact his community and add value to the world sure deserves some honor. Therefore, in August 2012, the Irish Speleology recorded that they would be organizing a memorial for Artur Kozlowski, which would be conducted in the Pollonora Cave. Artur was a true hero in the eyes of the Kiltartan community, his friends, and his family.

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What was the cause of Artur Kozlowski’s death?

The cause of Artur Kozlowski’s death remains unknown, creating a mystery surrounding his tragic demise. Despite having ample air supply and intact equipment, the exact circumstances leading to his death remain a puzzle.

How deep did Artur Kozlowski dive?

Artur Kozlowski reached a depth of 338 feet (103 meters), setting a record for the deepest cave dive in Great Britain and Ireland.

How many times did Artur Kozlowski explore Pollonora Cave?

Artur Kozlowski visited Pollonora Cave for exploration more than 16 times before his untimely death.

What were Artur Kozlowski’s notable achievements in cave exploration?

Artur Kozlowski made significant discoveries and connections in various cave systems. He extended the Marble Arch Cave system, doubling its length, and set a record for the longest cave in Northern Ireland. He also explored the notoriously challenging Fort region and discovered Palindro, the third deepest sump in Great Britain and Ireland.

How is Artur Kozlowski remembered?

Artur Kozlowski’s legacy as a fearless cave diver and explorer lives on in the diving community. A documentary titled “Writers on the Storm” was filmed to honor his life. Additionally, a memorial was organized in Pollonora Cave to commemorate his contributions and impact on the Kiltartan community.

Patrick Broin
Patrik, a seasoned cave diver, shares his first-hand experiences and expert insights on the treacherous world of cave diving accidents.
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