The Brandy Hole
The wild and lonely coast of Wicklow offered so many facilities for smuggling that the efforts of the Government were unable to accomplish more than barely to interrupt, and at most, delay the well laid schemes of the smugglers.
The usual plan adopted by smuggling vessels plying here was, under cover of night or misty weather, to send their contraband goods ashore in boats to the pre- arranged places of concealment on the coast. They would then to sail openly with their legitimate cargo to Dublin or other port, and thus hoodwink the Revenue authorities. There can be little doubt, however, that corruption was rife among the Revenue and Customs officers at that period, and that they could, when necessary, look in the other direction.
The natural conformation of the coast around Bray Head lent itself readily to the adaptation of places of concealment, of which there were several, but the principal one was that known as "The Brandy Hole," half a mile along the shore from where the road crosses the railway on the Head. Here was an immense cavern, with its entrance opening to the sea, and its many ramifications extending far in under the hill, affording ample accommodation for the cargoes of all the vessels plying their risky trade here. Into this great natural store-house, fully laden boats were easily able to make their way by the light of lanterns, and discharge their contents high and dry into the numerous receptacles prepared for them.
Immediately over this cavern, and adjoining the rude goat track that then encircled the Head, was a shaft sunk in a slanting direction into the earth, communicating with another subterraneous chamber - a sort of second storey to the lower one - but showing no trace of its existence on the surface, as the entrance was carefully concealed by a thick growth of brambles and bracken. This provided for the initiated a ready means of access from the land to the cavern, which was furnished where necessary with steps and platforms whereby a person above could, by means of a rope, assist those below to climb out on top, or if need be, drag up bales of goods for storage in the upper chamber.
In after years, when reports began to be whispered abroad as to the existence of this cave, the locality became the scene of some fierce struggles between the Revenue men and the desperadoes engaged in the contraband traffic.
Both the caves mentioned were utterly obliterated during the construction of the railway, but the name of "The Brandy Hole" still attaches to an inlet in the cliffs, and is the sole memorial of this great smugglers' rendezvous, the very tradition of which has been lost among the modern population.
Today, commuters who travel rapidly along the railway around Bray Head, look down on these former haunts with scarcely a thought for the desperate scenes enacted there many years ago...
NB: The cache is within easy access on the trail. You are NOT required to go over the fence to get it!