Tunnel Vision: Going Underground at Casino Marino

11 August 16

The OPW announce the opening of a new Exhibition at the Casino Marino telling the history of the vaults and tunnels in the outside basement of the building.  The Casino Marino, Ireland’s miniature architectural masterpiece, has just added another secret to its already full repertoire of secret plans and clever tricks.  Visitors can now explore the story of the long tunnel as part of the regular paid tour.

Over the years there has been much speculation about the uses and extent of the various vaults and tunnels that lead off from the basement of this remarkable building.  Unconfirmed stories have given rise to local legends of tunnels running down to the sea used for smuggling or being used as a useful secret underground escape route by the builder of the Casino, Lord Charlemont, from hordes of pestering relatives who descended to visit him.

The truth is even more fascinating as recent research has revealed that the long tunnel at the Casino was used around May of 1921 to practice firing the first two Thompson machine guns that arrived into Ireland from fund raising efforts by Harry Boland in America.  Witness statements confirm that shortly after the arrival of the Thompson machine guns, Michael Collins, Oscar Traynor, Dick Mulcahy, Ginger O’Connell and other members of ‘The Squad’ used the long tunnel at the Casino for firing practice and were delighted with the results!

During the revolutionary period, the area around Marino/Fairview was a hotbed of Volunteer activity.  A photograph of F Company, 2nd Battalion, Dublin Brigade of the Irish Volunteers who were based in the Fairview area, was taken at a reunion around 1939 of 83 members of F Company sitting on the south lawn of the Casino.  The Casino would like to recreate this photo and are putting out a call to any descendants of F Company to contact them if they would like to be included in the memorial photograph.  If you know of a relative of anyone in the photograph interested in participating, please let us know at casinomarino@opw.ie

This new exhibition at the Casino Marino tells the intriguing story of the vaults and tunnels in the outside basement of the building.  From 22nd August, the first Monday in Heritage Week, visitors can explore the story of the long tunnel as part of the regular paid tour visit and see how the Thompson machine guns were fired there in 1921.  After Heritage Week tunnel access is on Thursday to Saturday inclusive only, usual admission charges apply. Entry restrictions can apply due to weather/operational conditions.


For more information, please contact OPW Press Office at 046 942 6517

Notes to Editors:

The long tunnel is a complex series of connected chambers leading off from the basement of the building.  The chambers beneath are lit by grills or vents above ground which cast light and air down into the long tunnel and illuminate the wells or bathing pools beneath.  While there are still puzzles as to why the long tunnel was designed as it is, it may well be that the Charlemont was indulging in the ritual of ‘taking the plunge’ - bathing in cold water underground baths was a health craze in the 18th century!

Contact details:

Email: casinomarino@opw.ie