Haunted Establishments with “Spirits” Series
The Irish Lion - Bloomington, Indiana
The wind is rising, the leaves are changing, and it’s time for our annual trek to some haunted restaurants and libation locations around the country. To kick things off, here’s an Irish pub with a bit more than the usual spirits you’d expect to find at the bar …
|The Irish Lion|
This cool little restaurant and pub is located in Bloomington, Indiana. The Irish Lion has been in operation since 1982 serving authentic Irish pub grub like stews, steaks and mutton pies for over 30 years. The bar features over 100 whiskeys, over 130 Single Malt Scotches and a stunning array of Irish and European imports on draft.
The building began as the Woorley Tavern and Hotel Bundy European in 1882. The vintage bar was crafted during the Civil War era. Upstairs was a brothel and the hotel advertised that “companions” were available to spend the night with customers. The building has been restored with cast iron columns, stained glass and an original mahogany Brunswick back bar - the same one featured in the opening of the TV show "Cheers."
|Inside the Tavern|
The tavern and hotel began operation in 1882 and continued until well into the 20th century, but in 1920 Prohibition began and the tavern closed. The Great Depression brought an end to the hotel and during the 1930's some dark and tragic events happened on this site.
|Empty and Forlorn|
From 1935 to 1957, the building was used for a multitude of purposes. After Prohibition the building was once again used as a tavern and also as a billiard hall. Several people died here during this time but records are sketchy as to who they were and the causes of death.
In 1979, the McConnaugh family purchased the building and set about restoring it to its 19th century glory before opening it as the Irish Lion Restaurant and Pub in 1982.
Employees and customers have witnessed strange occurrences in the building, both in the downstairs pub area and upstairs in the banquet room. Former employees tell of liquor bottle flying through the air at the bar, sometime aimed at a specific person. Other times wine and beer glasses shatter on the shelves for no apparent reason. Employees clean up the restaurant and bar after closing only to open in the morning and find that the bar area had been ransacked and was in total shambles. There had not been a break-in; nothing was missing, just destruction of liquor bottles and glassware.
Customers have reported feeling a presence upstairs in the banquet room, which was once a bordello. It appears that some of the girls have decided to linger … Customers have inquired about the large party going on upstairs when the banquet room has been cleaned and closed for the evening. When someone checks, there is no one to be found and the second floor is dark.
To appease the pub spirits, bartenders usually leave a shot of whiskey at the end of the bar. Apparently this keeps the spirits happy as there have been few incidents reported in recent years.
If you’d like to experience some excellent Irish food, a host of Irish beers on draft, and the ambience of spirits of the past, check out the Irish Lion, located at 212 West Kirkwood Avenue in Bloomington, Indiana. The pub is open daily from 11 a.m. to “late night.”
For more information visit The Irish Lion.
And while you’re in Bloomington, check out a few of the other haunted venues for a spook-tacular visit to the Hoosier state:
That old college “spirit” is thriving at Indiana University where several students and at least four faculty members are said to roam the buildings and grounds.
The Stepp Cemetery, in the Morgan-Monroe State Forest, is also rumored to be haunted, some say it is one of the most haunted places in south-central Indiana.
Maybe some spirited guides have contributed to Bloomington's slogan: "Come. Stay. Replay."