Just Don't Walk Backwards Around it Three Times!
The Hell Fire Club is the shell of an 18th century clubhouse situated on the Montpelier Hill peak in the Dublin Mountains. When this excursion was first mentioned to me, I envisioned some kind of ski lodge type structure, or more of the buildings we in North America are accustomed to seeing in higher elevations. I was surprised to see what was more reminiscent of 16th and 17th century abbeys I had seen in the Irish countryside.
The Hell Fire Club was built in 1725 by the speaker of the Irish Parliament, William Connolly, as a hunting lodge. The legend of the lodge has morphed into a much ominous tale based on the myths surrounding the club and the activities of its members. The Hell Fire Club was comprised of Irish aristocrats who supposedly engaged in sinister and sometimes satanic behavior, hidden away in their isolated club house. The grounds are said to have been cursed from the club house’s inception, because the land it was built on was formerly an ancient burial ground dating back to the Stone Age, in which mourners made cairns or piles of stone to honor their dead. The legend says that Connolly and others moved the stones and used them in the construction of the Club House, cursing the land, the Club House, and all who entered. Tales flourish that the Devil appears here as well and will show himself to an individual who circles the stone building backwards three times.
One can only arrive at the Hell Fire Club by hiking up a steep hill. The hike itself is very manageable and picturesque, and once visitors arrive at the top of the plateau, the view is breathtaking. Visitors can see from the western Dublin county of Tallaght all the way to the Irish Sea. Visitors can also enter the Hellfire Club, which is a stone building separated into small rooms and different levels. Being inside was admittedly very spooky, but the views were worth the creepy feeling.
Haunted tours are offered through the Dublin Tourism Board by the Hidden Dublin Walking Tours group. They are available only to adults at a price of 25 euro per person. The bus takes tours from the city center up the mountain, so comfortable shoes and flashlights are recommended for the hike following the bus trip. Another option is to rent a car and drive to the mountains yourself in the light of day. I was lucky enough to have a friend drive, and I would highly recommend a day trip as the ride is enjoyable and not very long, but very beautiful and a great way to see the lesser known parts of Dublin.
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photo: Amy Wiener