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Montpelier Hill

The Hellfire Club on Montpelier Hill, Dublin
Elevation 383 metres (1,257 ft)
Location
Location Dublin, Ireland
Range Dublin Mountains
Coordinates 53°15′6.7″N 6°19′49.24″W / 53.251861°N 6.3303444°W / 53.251861; -6.3303444
Topo map OSi Discovery 50
OSI/OSNI grid O120238
Climbing
Easiest route Trail from car park off Stocking Lane (R115).

The Hellfire Club (or Club thine Ifrinn in Irish) is the name given to a ruined building near the 383m (1,257 foot) summit of Montpelier Hill[1] in the Dublin Mountains, County Dublin, Ireland.

It was built around 1725 by William Conolly, the speaker of the Irish House of Commons who purchased the land from Philip Wharton, 1st Duke of Wharton.[2]

Believed to have been constructed as a hunting lodge (the grounds comprised a 1,000 acre (4 km²) deer park), the building acted as a viewpoint for Conolly's mansion at Castletown House, Celbridge, County Kildare.[3] The building consists of two large rooms and a hall on the upper floor with a kitchen and servant's hall on the lower floor.[2] The house was originally called “Mount Pelier”, the name now given to the hill upon which it stands; the original Irish name of the hill is unknown.[4] Believed to have been used as a meeting place for the Irish Hellfire Club, the area has a reputation for being associated with Satanism, the supernatural and the occult.

The building may be reached by a short walk uphill from the nearest road, Stocking Lane (R115 road), to the Montpelier summit.

History and folklore

The summit of the hill was originally the site of a megalithic monument, described as consisting of a large slab surrounded by a stone wall.[4] The site also consisted of a number of standing stones.[4] Many of the stones from the cairn were used in the construction of the house.[4] Shortly after its completion, a powerful storm blew the slated roof away.[2] Popular local superstition held that this was the handiwork of the Devil, a punishment for the desecration of the cairn.[2] The roof was rebuilt with a sturdy arched stone roof – similar to the construction of a bridge – that remains intact to this day.[2]

It is believed that the Irish Hell Fire Club (founded 1735 by Richard Parsons, 1st Earl of Rosse) held some meetings at the house, although their regular meeting place was the Eagle Tavern on Cork Hill near Dublin Castle.[2] As a result, many lurid stories regarding activities there have entered popular local folklore. These include tales of drinking sessions and black masses as well as ritual sacrifices of black cats and, on one occasion, a dwarf.[5]

In 1971, the skeleton of a dwarfish figure was found buried along with a brass statue of a demon at nearby Killakee House (a place with a reputation for hauntings) but may have been a publicity stunt for the opening of the gallery. According to the Evening Herald of December 10, 1968, F.W. Gumley witnessed the black cat in the late 1930s.[6] Lady Massey, wife of the "Penniless Peer" as well as her son were taken in by Miss Margaret Fox after Lord Massey, was declared bankrupt and the house and lands taken over by the banks.[5]

Another tale – very similar to that associated with Loftus Hall, County Wexford – holds that the Devil appeared, posing as a stranger seeking shelter from a storm, and vanished in a puff of smoke when a fellow guest noticed he had cloven hooves for feet.[7] In yet another tale, a fire broke out in the building when some spilled brandy was set alight, killing many members who were too drunk to escape.[7]

Montpelier Hill with the Hell Fire Club near its summit as seen from Tibradden Mountain

It is from this reputation that the building has earned the name "Hellfire Club". Other names by which is has been known by include "Conolly's Folly",[4] "The Haunted House",[2] "The Shooting Lodge"[2] and "The Kennel".[4]

The building was set on fire for a second time in 1849 when tar barrels were set alight by Irish patriots who revolted over the arrival of Queen Victoria on a visit to Ireland.[4]

Today, the house and surroundings (called Hell Fire Wood) are owned by Coillte, the State-owned forestry company. The area, with commanding views of Dublin and its environs, is a popular recreation spot for many Dubliners.

Notes and references

  1. ^ Montpelier is the name used by Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi Discovery Map No. 50). The sources quoted in this article use a variety of spellings – Mount Pelier, Mont Pelier, Mont Pelia etc. - for this hill.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Joyce, Weston St. John (1920). "Chapter 11. A Day on Mount Pelier". The Neighbourhood of Dublin (3rd Edition ed.). Dublin. http://www.chaptersofdublin.com/books/Neighbourhood/chapter11.html. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  3. ^ Ball, Francis Elrington (1902-1920). "Chapter 1. Parish of Tallaght". A History of the County Dublin. Vol. 3. Dublin. http://www.chaptersofdublin.com/books/ball1-6/Ball3/ball3.1.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Handcock, William Domville (1899). "Mont Pelier". The History and Antiquities of Tallaght in the County of Dublin (2nd Edition ed.). Dublin. http://www.chaptersofdublin.com/books/Handcock/tallaght10.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  5. ^ a b Walsh, Dave (1999-11-07). "The Hellfire Club: Accidental Satanists". Blather.net. http://www.blather.net/blather/1999/11/the_hellfire_club_accidental_s.html. Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  6. ^ Lowe, Chris (2008-08-08). "The story breaks". The Dublin Hellfire Club - The Facts. http://dublinhellfireclub.blogspot.com/. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  7. ^ a b Walsh, Dave (1998-10-30). "The Irish Hellfire Club: No Smoke Without Fire". Blather.net. http://www.blather.net/blather/1998/10/the_irish_hellfire_club_no_smo.html. Retrieved 2007-07-23. 

External links

Coordinates: 53°15′6.7″N 6°19′49.24″W / 53.251861°N 6.3303444°W / 53.251861; -6.3303444

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