A little later than I had intended for this week, but I do have the excuse of moving house! Here’s this week’s COTW.
The Hell Fire Club is perched high in the Dublin mountains overlooking the suburbs where I grew up. Its name alone is enough to grab attention, but the lore surrounding its murky past is even more sinister. As kids, there was no end to the scary stories that were whispered about the Club and whenever we walked in the mountains, the area was always avoided.
Originally known as Montpelier Hill, the club was built in 1725 by William Connolly as a hunting lodge. However, the site was originally a passage tomb dating from the Neolithic period, something Connolly chose to ignore as he built over the sacred site, even going so far as to use some of the burial stones in the construction of the building. Locals warned Connolly that the dead wouldn’t take kindly to this intrusion and destruction of their resting place and sure enough, shortly after the lodge was completed, the entire roof was blown off during a storm. Many claimed this was only the beginning of the paranormal problems the site would encounter, but Connolly shrugged off the superstitions and replaced the roof. Just over four years later he died and the lodge was left to stand empty until 1735 when the Connolly family rented the building to the Irish Hell Fire Club, a club for wealthy gentry seeking a hideaway for their disturbing pursuits. Rumours were quick to spread amongst the locals about the activities taking place in the secluded building, including animal sacrifices, members drinking themselves into a stupor and pacts being made with the devil. These stories cemented the ghoulish reputation only further.
Some of the more macabre legends include how a cloaked guest arrived at the lodge one evening and was invited in where he joined a game of cards. At one point, a player dropped one of his cards and when he bent down to pick it up, saw the mysterious cloaked figure had hooves instead of feet. Upon being recognised, the ‘Devil’ burst into flames and disappeared.
Another more gruesome story tells of how a servant at the club accidentally spilled brandy on the arm of a member while serving him at a card table. Enraged, the member snatched the bottle from the servant, doused him with its contents and then dragged the man outside where, with encouraging shouts from other members, set the servant alight.
Another story tells the tale of a young local farmer who decided to slate his curiosity about the club and what went on at its meetings. While attempting to peer through the windows he was found by one of the members and brought inside. The next morning he was found wandering around the grounds, confused and unable to speak. According to the story, he never spoke again and allegedly, never even remembered his own name.
Tales of a large black cat skulking around the exterior of the club prompted a local priest to investigate. Upon arriving at the Club he saw the huge animal and when he finally managed to lay his hands on the beast and call out an incantation, the demon revealed its true form and fled, leaving behind a terrorised cat.
I have only been to the Hell Fire Club once. The building is crumbling and covered in a strange yellow/green growth, but as someone who is very sensitive to the vibes surrounding buildings and places I couldn’t wait to get out of there. To me, if felt as if the air was clogged with an invisible tar that made it almost impossible to move or breathe. Locals and visitors will tell you that, without a doubt, the entire place just feels ‘off’. I was in the Girl Guides for a few years (now there’s a photo I must dig out!) and we regularly camped and cooked out in the Dublin mountains – but never, ever near the Hell Fire Club. . . cue the spooky music.
However, and this is why this article from thejournal. ie gets Click Of The Week, here’s a gruesome-free story about the Hell Fire Club which I wanted to share with you. For the past year, there have been excavations of the cairn taking place on Montpelier hill. There is talk of plans to redevelop the whole site, but the extent of the cairn needs to be ascertained first. The archaeologist in this video brings a welcome brightness to the usual dark and creepy theme of the Hell Fire Club. I love how his excitement makes him stumble over his words and the music playing in the background is a welcome change from the unnerving music that generally accompanies other videos I’ve seen.
No-one knows for sure what the future for the Hell Fire Club holds, but I hope the spirits who were driven to manifest their anger and hurt soon get to rest in peace.