By: Shane O’Brien ……
Situated atop Montpelier Hill in the Dublin Mountains, the ruins of the ancient hunting club have been a source of ghost stories and spooky myths for centuries. Supernatural reports have been connected to the lodge since it was built by Irish politician and landowner William Conolly in 1725.
Conolly, the Speak of the Irish House of Commons, built the hunting lodge using stones from a prehistoric cairn located nearby. Shortly afterward, the building’s roof was blown off during a storm, leading locals to believe that angry spirits had taken their vengeance on Conolly for destroying the cairn.
The building has been connected to the supernatural ever since. After Conolly’s death in 1729, the hunting lodge was believed rented by Irish members of the Hellfire Club, a society known for its amoral behavior involving sex and alcohol.
It is during this period that most ghost stories connected to the Hellfire Club are said to have taken place. Everyone has their own story regarding the Hellfire Club, but there is one story that is far more common than the rest.
The story goes that members of the Hellfire Club were playing cards one stormy night when a cloaked stranger arrived at the door in search of shelter. The members invited the man inside where they proceeded to play cards.
At some point in the evening, a member dropped his cards on the floor and saw a cloven hoof protruding from the stranger’s cloak as he went to retrieve them. Revealed to be the devil in disguise, the stranger set the club alight, leaving it in the ruined state it is found in today.
Another legend tells of a local priest who arrived at the club one night to find members engaged in the sacrifice of a black cat. The priest promptly performed an exorcism on the cat before an evil spirit was released from the animal’s corpse.
One other common legend tells of a young farmer who was invited into the club to witness the night’s activities. He was found the next morning trembling and terrified and was believed to never speak again.
Strange smells and noises have reportedly emanated from the ruins for decades, especially at night. The legends surrounding the Hellfire Club are not exclusive to the lodge sitting atop Montpelier Hill.
Several ghost stories are also connected to Killakee House, which sits adjacent to the present-day Hellfire Club car park at the bottom of the hill. Killakee House, which was also used by the Hellfire Club, was built by the Conolly family in 1765 as a hunting lodge and is renowned for being haunted by a large black cat.
Some believe that the specter is the same cat that was sacrificed by the Hellfire Club, while others state that the cat is the spirit of an animal that was doused in whiskey and set alight by the Hellfire Club at Killakee House. Reports of the hauntings at Killakee House took place between 1968 and 1970 when Margaret O’Brien and her husband Nicholas were converting the house into an arts center.
Several tradesmen reportedly left the site, claiming that they had been haunted by a black cat with glowing red eyes. Killakee House and the Hellfire Club remain connected to the supernatural to this day.
The latter, in particular, has been heavily linked to satanism. In 2006, dozens of people gathered at the site on June 6th to await the potential coming of the antichrist on 6/6/6.
Leaving the connections to satanism and the supernatural to one side for a moment, the Hellfire Club is well worth a visit for anyone visiting Dublin. The moderately strenuous walk from the car park to the top of Montpelier Hill takes roughly 20 minutes and rewards climbers with a spectacular panoramic view of Dublin and the surrounding countryside.
The meandering path through the wood is appropriately eerie for this time of year and leaves visitors with an impression that they may be about to meet the supernatural when they reach the dilapidated ruins at the top.