Turloughs have for hundreds of year mystified and confused the people of the Burren. These disappearing lakes exist in their own unique habitat, a place that, when flooded, still holds mysteries for those who know them best.
This week, Lahinch man Matthew Kelly, has done something that no one has ever done before, explored one of these turloughs with a submarine drone.
Matthew, who runs the ground breaking drone search and rescue company Dronesar, was one of the first people in Ireland to own a flying drone and is now one of the first to use a submarine drone.
After trialing it in rivers and in the ocean, this week he explored the turlough at Mullaghmore and created a video to show everyone what lies beneath.
“This is the first major video I’ve made with it. I tried it in the sea and I tried it in rivers and the visibility wasn’t that great. The water that you get in a turlough is so clear and the colours are so bright that I thought it would be a great place to explore,” said Matthew.
“They are very interesting things to explore. I think some people would be very interested in the types of grass that can survive in them and see how some plants have adapted to that environment. I think to be able to see that will be interesting for a lot of people.
“Mullaghmore is such an amazing place anyway so I was very curious to see what I would find if I looked at it from under the water.”
A video of this underwater voyage, complete with accompanying music on the harp by Matthew’s sister, Marie Kelly, has already proved very popular on social media.
“It something I’ve become very used to doing with the flying drone over the years. I was really interested to see what the environment would look like underwater, especially with the light coming through it,” he said.
“I tried to capture that interaction between the sun and the water. It was actually cloudy that day so I waited until there was a break in the cloud. I was lucky, usually if you can capture the light coming from over the horizon when the sun is just starting to set you can get some really interesting things and thankfully the clouds cleared.”
Having explored his first turlough, Matthew may next next go in search of a the sea cliffs under Liscannor Bay, while he has also been contact by a landowner looking to find a castle which has been submerged on the lake in Tipperary.
“The technology has come along leaps and bounds in recent years which has now enabled these underwater drones to work. Everyone is probably very familiar now with the other drones, where you have a radio controlled flying drone. The submarine drones work differently,” he said.
“The signal wont work through the water so the drone has a tether and a cable that is attached to the drone. This tether is attached to a wifi router and this router connects to i-pad or other devise and you can control it in that way.
“The drone I have can travel up to 30 metres away from the router. Because of the buoyancy in the water, the submarine drones don’t have to work as hard as the flying drones so they can work for up to three hours.
“I have tried the submarine drone in the ocean. It does get washed around a bit in the current but it does work. When you put it into the sea you need to actually add weight to it because the salt water will make it float.”