In Roy Bulson’s 1969 book ‘Irish pubs of character’, an snapshot of history and guide to Irish pubs of the time, there is a very interesting and brief entry about a pub on Dame street. The book goes through the more famous and reputable pubs of Dublin, gives some brief info on the atmosphere in the pub, the character of the publican, and what food (if any) and drink they serve.
The entry for Leonards of 75 Dame street, which is now Brogans beside the Olympia, describes the then 200 year history of the pub, the bacon and cabbage lunch, and it’s use by Michael Collins during ‘the trouble times’. One throwaway comment at the end of the description piqued our interest. It reads:
‘For anyone not wishing to pay for his round of drinks, there is an underground passage, but this unfortunately leads straight to Dublin castle.’
Is it possible that there is a tunnel running under the pub that has been lost to time, was covered up, and is unknown to the current owners?
There have often been rumours of underground tunnels around the central area of Dublin’s southside. Some say that there’s a tunnel from the Freemasons hall on Molesworth street to Leinster House, while others say that there is a small network of tunnels running from Dublin Castle to surrounding areas.
One possible explanation for the mention of this ‘underground passage’ is the river Poddle. The Poddle is Dublin’s forgotten river and runs under Dublin castle, visible only in place, and runs under Dame street, through Temple bar, and on to flow into the Liffey. We do know that the river flows under bad Bobs in Temple bar, and Brogans is roughly connected to Bad Bobs by a lane way connecting Dame street and Essex street. The river actually used to flood the cellar of Bad Bobs.
Take a look at this video that takes you into the Poddle and under the streets of Dublin.
We’ll have to pay a visit to Brogans to see if there is or ever was sign of a passage or tunnel that stood alone or connected to the Poddle. While it’s quite unlikely, it would make for quite an interesting story.
@publinie that is a fact… Doesn’t flood anymore.
— Bad Bobs Temple Bar (@BadBobsDublin) August 1, 2015
For anyone interested, the book lists the proprietors as T. and M. Leonard, and the drinks selection includes: Guinness, Pheonix, Smithwicks, Celebration, Watney’sRed Barrel, Double Diamond, Harp Lager. They did wiens by the glass and bottle at a time when wine wasn’t widely available.