The Smuggler's Rest, Cloghehead

History & Folklore

Captain Redman & The Redman’s Cave

Visitors to The Smuggler’s Rest will instantly notice of how the interior décor is to resemble that of an era gone by. Celebrating Clogherhead’s rich nautical past, we at The Smugglers Rest wanted to celebrate this incredible history and create awareness of the fascinating folklore centred around the village. In every room there is memorabilia on show capturing Clogherhead’s maritime past.
Most notably the wall mural in our Main Bar Area depicts a walking map of the headland and Clogherhead Village with historical points of interest marked with an X. Some of these include Glaspistol Castle, The WW2 Look Out Post, The Coastguard Watch Tower, and The Redman’s Cave. Also, part of the Mural is a portrait of Captain Redman of which it is said The Redman’s Caves name originated.
Only a 5-minute walk from The Smugglers rest is the headland itself of Clogherhead which contains many secrets and stories. Not many people know that the rocks that built the monuments at Brú na Boinne (Newgrange) where taken from here almost 5000 years ago. The Redman’s cave rests on the east face of the headland at Clogherhead. Over thousands of years, the sea battered against the rocks to form a huge cavern into the rock face. Legend has it that many a year ago, this cave led right under the village as far back as Blackhall Termonfeckin, almost 6km away.
The Redman’s cave was used by smugglers to smuggle in luxury goods such as tea, tobacco, silk and rum during the 18th and 19th century. During this period Britain imposed heavy taxes on luxury items coming from the colonies which led to a rise in smuggling, particularly along the east coast of Ireland. Many stories were created about the cave to ward off potential smugglers from using its passages. Here are the two stories of how the name of the cave originated:

The Hounds

During Oliver Cromwell’s siege of Drogheda in 1649, British soldiers were said to have put to death several Catholic priests hiding in a cave on the coast at Clogherhead. The priests were seeking sanctuary inside the headland cave from Cromwell’s Round Head Soldiers. Story goes, the priests were walking their dogs along the head when they spotted the soldiers in the distance. They made their way down the steep passage to the cave mouth and waited until the soldiers passed. As the dogs heard the soldiers on patrol above the cave they begun barking uncontrollably. This led the soldiers straight into the cave to the priests in hiding. When the soldiers discovered the priests, they killed them and the dogs one by one. The walls of the cave were stained in blood of the slain and this is where the name, The Redman’s Cave originated. Until very recent times the inside of the cave was painted red by locals to commemorate this event. It is said that on cold and stormy Autumn nights, dog barks can be heard coming from the cave. The barks get louder and louder and louder and then come to a sudden end.

The Captain

Local folklore has it that Captain Redman sailed a small ship to Ireland from Spain. The journey was long and plagued with bad luck. Members of the Captains crew were dying on board frequently with no explanation as to why. Captain Redman could not provide the sailors with an explanation which made them grow very suspicious of the Captain. Rumours were circulating the Captain wanted the sailor’s dead, so he could take off with the luxury goods on board. By the time the ship reached the coast of Ireland, only the Captain and six crew members were left alive. Taking shelter from the stormy weather along the coast at Clogherhead, the remaining crew members and Captain Redman came ashore at the cave to seek sanctuary from the storm.
The men camped at the cave for many nights hoping the storm would pass. Every night the winds howled like the wailing screech of the banshee. Each night another of the crew died in mysterious circumstances, and eventually, the two remaining men concluded that Captain Redman must be responsible. They ambushed him and chopped off his head, sticking it on a spike at the mouth of the cave entrance. Legend has it that anyone who ventures to the cave at night, might catch a glimpse of the headless ghost of Captain Redman in search of his head.
Which one do you think was the source of the cave’s name? In honour of The Captain, The Smugglers Rest hosts an annual Halloween theatrical dinner with a crew of dead sailors and the ghost of Captain Redman himself. This is an event not to be missed.

The Saloon Doors

The Saloon Doors that many people pass through on the way to the beer garden or restrooms have a fascinating origin. The doors themselves are carved and made from Irish Walnut by local craftsman Padraig Dunne of Riocht Design. The tree in which the wood was carved was felled at Old Bridge Estate which is the site of the famous Battle of the Boyne in 1690. It is estimated that this tree was planted in the early 17th century and would have been mature around the time of the battle. If these doors could talk, they could tell us exactly what happened on the day from their focal point. How do we know this? This tree was carbon dated as the current President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins and current President of the U.S.A. Joe Biden where both separately gifted pieces carved from this same tree. We wonder how many people that push these doors know of them through history?

Welcome to The Smuggler’s Rest, Clogherhead

The Smuggler's Rest

Harbour Road,
Co. Louth.
A92 XH2D

041 988 9302

[email protected]

Opening Hours

5pm - 9pm (food, bar late)
5pm - 9pm (bar late)
1pm - 7.30pm (bar late)
1pm - 7pm (bar late)

Enjoy ALCOHOL sensibly. Visit 

Monday - Wednesday

Available for private party bookings

Thursday - Sunday

Bar available until late

See Our Party Menus