Brannigans is located on Cathedral Street which runs from Dublins iconic O’Connell Street to Marlbourough Street. The street as well as the pub has a long and rich history in Dublin folklore.
In 1803, Archbishop John Thomas Troy bought Lord Annesley’s townhouse on the corner of
Marlbourough Street and Elephant Lane, now called Cathedral Street and within sight of the city’s premier thoroughfare, Sackville Street, now Dublin’s O’ Connell Street. Here the Bishop planned to build on this location the new ‘Pro-Cathedral’ which was completed on 14 November 1825.
Dublins very first Elephant
Many years before any Cathedral was built the street where Brannigans pub now stands got its
name from a very obscure source. Some 330 years ago, Dublin’s very first Elephant lived on then Elephant Lane, now known as Cathedral Street. The animal used to be brought across the River Liffey to nearby Parliament Street where people would pay to see the animal in a viewing booth. Unfortunately on the 17 th of June 1681, the poor beast died when the viewing booth caught fire causing the Elephant to perish. Dubliners from all over the city rushed to watch the fire and claim pieces of the charred Elephants remains. The owner of the Elephant tried his best to keep the onlookers away and contacted the nearby Royal College of Surgeons whom he sold the remains of the Elephant to. These doctors then undertook one of the first anatomy studies of an Elephant of its kind recorded in Ireland and England.
The Post Office Tavern
The first recorded licenced premises at 9 Cathedral Street (then Elephant Lane) was back in 1854. The Post Office Tavern was run by James Kenny from 1854 and was part of a number of establishments dotted around the city bearing the same name. John Nagle became proprietor in 1875. Today, only Brannigan’s on Cathedral Street and The Duke Pub on Duke Street, Dublin 2 remain.
James ‘Lugs’ Brannigan
When the current owners, the McCormack family, bought the pub in the late nineties they decided to rename the pub after the famous or infamous local Garda (policeman) James Christopher Brannigan better known as ‘Lugs’ Brannigan. As well as serving in the Gardai for over 40 years, Brannigan was a distinguished boxer, boxing referee and to many a legend and part of Dublin mythology due to him dishing out his own form of justice and his close relationship with the local people on his beat. Many a Dubliner who found himself fall foul to the law was given the option of being brought to the local Garda station and be booked or have it out man to man with ‘Lugs’. It became nearly a badge of honour in the Dublin underworld to earn a black eye from ‘Lugs’ Brannigan.