His noteriety eventually lead to his prosecution by Donegal County Council for breach of planning laws and the case came before the District Court in Donegal Town on the 3rd of March 2010 when the Council argued that Mr. Brogan required planning permission for change of use of his shed to a 'bar or lounge'. However, on hearing the evidence, or lack of evidence, the Judge found that there was no case to answer and added that the situation was "most unusual" but that in recent times it was not uncommon for people to have a bar or lounge in their homes.
So, our trip to the Bog Hotel.
After wanting to visit the Bog Hotel for some years, we finally got to visit it yesterday (Sunday, 16th May 2010) after an extensive search for it through the hills of Donegal. We knew only that it was located somewhere near the village of Frosses in south Donegal. So we drove into Frosses and took a side road there which led us on a wild goose chase in what turned out to be the totally wrong direction. Back into Frosses village and out the Glenties road.
Driving along the main road looking for the Bog Hotel
I had seen photos of the place in newspapers and so I thought I might spot it as my husband drove along. After about 5 or so minutes driving, we stopped a lady out walking and asked for directions. She said to drive for another 10 or 15 minutes and we'd see the lane on our left and we'd find it there. Well we saw lots of lanes and even drove up a few of them but still couldn't find the Bog Hotel. Eventually, after an hour or so of driving back and forth and up and down dead end lanes, we decided to head to Glenties to see if anyone could give directions.
We were getting a tad exasperated, tired and hungry at this stage so, noticing a sign on the wall of the Highlands Hotel advertising fresh chowder, in we went to enjoy some food and a rest and our friendly waitress allowed me to plug in my camera battery charger.
Chowder eaten, camera battery and our batteries recharged, off we set again. Ouside the hotel I spotted a man smoking and asked him for directions. He knew the place he said and gave us directions (you can see the directions from Glenties at the end of this post). His directions were good but probably best if you were familiar with the area. For us, they worked in that they lead us very close to the Bog Hotel, a nearby farm where the man there told us it was at the end of the the next lane to the right along the road. I'm nearly sure I heard choirs of Angels singing Alleluija at that point.
We drove up the lane and eventually found the Bog Hotel. Or what we assumed to be the Bog Hotel. A shack standing alone at the end of a track. It has to be said that the surrounds could certainly do with a bit of a tidy up and maybe even a lick of paint. That said, the whole jumble of the exterior probably adds to the whole attraction of the Bog Hotel.
There were a few cars parked in a totally random fashion around the shed and we figured we at last might really be at the Bog Hotel. But there were no signs so we couldn't be 100% sure. We got out of the car and could hear voices coming from within the shed and so approached the door. I didn't know whether to knock or just enter so I went with the latter.
You know when you step into a fairly dark building from bright sunshine outside? You can't really see what's there for a few moments? Well it was like that for a second and in suspended animation too as all conversation immediately ceased and lots of faces, barely seen in the relative darkness within, turned around to see who was coming in. I watch a lot of horror films and have a rather fertile imagination and for a second that fertile imagination ran away with me, screaming into my brain 'hills, miles from anywhere, strange people, trapped, RUN!'. But I got a grip of myself, not to mention a shove from my husband behind me to move on, and we entered the Bog Hotel. To be greated by a large German Shepherd dog. But he just had a little investigation and moved back into the room leaving us free to enter.
Inside the Bog Hotel
Time started up again, conversations resumed and as our eyes adjusted to the dim light within and I could see the place was fairly packed with all manner of people ~ women with babies, kids running around, groups of men, groups of women, couples, you name it. And everywhere flashes going off as people took photos on cameras and mobile phones, wanting a keepsake of their time in the Bog Hotel.
I recognised Patsy Brogan, the owner, from photographs I'd seen in newspapers and he greeted us in a friendly fashion before resuming his conversation with the people around one of the two large tables where he was holding court, surrounded by guests who were learning all about the history of the Bog Hotel.
At the far end of the room, around an 'L' shaped bar, another crowd of people were gathered, some sitting on high stools, others standing. We made our way there and as with Patsy, I recognised Daria from the newspapers. We were offered refreshments and asked for two glasses of Guinness. I didn't really think it was a gin/tonic/ice with a slice sort of place and so ordered Guinness. Unfortunately there was no Guinness either so after perusing the random selection on offer, we settled for two bottles of Carlsberg.
In the Bog Hotel even the opening hours defy the norm. Patsy says guests are welcome there any time, day or night. Now that said, I can't imagine having the nerve to roll up at 3am but I believe people do. This man is 72 years of age and when I was speaking to him yesterday he told me that he and Daria had been in Sligo Friday night, Longford Saturday night and had arrived home at 7.30 that morning and hadn't been to bed and still he managed to look as fresh as a daisy and full of life! He tells people he works 25 hours a day and when asked how he can do 25 hours a day replies 'I work my lunch break'. I don't know what he's on but I think a lot of us could use some of it.
One thing that comes over across strongly is the huge support for what Patsy did in and the success of his case. His back must be red raw with all the claps his back receives not to mention his hearing which really must be affected by the shouts of his guest saying 'well done!' 'great place you have here', 'we love it!' and other such positive acolades. Patsy is now standing for local election, fully convinced he will sweep the poll I might add. And judging by the support he was receiving from his guests yesterday, he might just do it.
Patsy and Daria
But before the election comes a much more important date for Patsy and Daria, the 1st of August next, Patsy's 73rd birthday, when they marry. They met when she visited the Bog Hotel with a group of friends on a day off from her job as a waitress in the Mill Park Hotel in nearby Donegal Town. Daria is Polish but their wedding will take place here in Donegal Town where not one but two hotels have been booked to accommodate the 2,000 guests expected to attend.
Well, 2000 and two, we now having been invited.
MORE PHOTOS OF THE BOG HOTEL
HOW TO FIND THE BOG HOTEL
As you have read, this can prove difficult so here's our guide for those of you wishing to visit.
From Glenties: Leave Glenties on the Ardara road and just outside the village take the left hand turn off signposted Donegal Town. Drive along that road for about 10 minutes and you will see a Jehovah Witness hall on your left, a very short distance after that there is a power station (pylons) on the left. The next turn to the right is the lane up to the Bog Hotel. Be warned, the turn off is on a bend in the road and care should be taken leaving the road.
From Frosses: Drive to Glenties and follow route given above!