Cool and Creepy Day Trip Near Dublin the Hellfire Club

Tours from Dublin

Exploring the Dark History of the Hellfire Club

photo by Christa Thompson

The Hellfire Club sits high above the city of Dublin with its dark secrets and legends.

Just outside of the bustling streets of Dublin stretches miles of unscathed rolling mountains. These mountains are home to legends hundreds of years past, legends so tightly woven into the bogs of these hills that I needed a personal guide to share them with me. So, I enlisted in the help of my dear Irish friend to join me on a day trip near Dublin to explore the dark history of the Hellfire Club.

Halfway up the trail to the Hellfire Club photo by Christa Thompson

Halfway up the trail to the Hellfire Club photo by Christa Thompson

Meet Ed Hannon, writer of Visions of the Past, one of my favorite Irish blogs documenting Irish history and locale. Ed was kind enough to cart me about these breathtaking hills, and to share with me legends from high above the city of Dublin from the summit of Montpelier Hill overlooking the serene Glenasmole valley.

We came together at the Hellfire Club

photo by Christa Thompson

The view from this dark and ominous site is anything but that. This is the best view of the city in all of the Dublin Mountains with plenty of ground to picnic and relax.

Originally named Mount Pelier, the Hellfire Club was built by William Conolly as a hunting lodge in 1725 where it is still perched high above Dublin at 1,257 feet, a seat with a perfect view. The very construction of this building entailed doom, said to be built from the stones of a prehistoric passage grave. Its original roof was blown off just after completion, leading the locals to believe it was the work of dark forces.

And So the Legend of the Hellfire Club Begins

Driving to the Hellfire Club photo by Christa Thompson

Driving to the Hellfire Club photo by Christa Thompson

The road winding up the mountain to the Hellfire Club is narrow and wrapped in tunnels of the greenest trees I’ve ever seen. We passed over hills overlooking valleys with the loveliest country cottages. I encountered a red breasted robin that seemingly was enjoying the view as much as I was, I am sure of it.

On the way to the Hellfire Club photo by Christa Thompson

On the way to the Hellfire Club photo by Christa Thompson

It’s amazing how just a short drive away from the living streets of the city can land you in a page torn right from a fairytale, the kind of fairytale where you are surrounded by the most beautiful sorts of nature and colors, that wrap around the darkest of structures, with the darkest and ugliest of legends.

Evil encounters, paranormal activities, debauchery, demonic manifestations and ritualistic cult practices within this building have become part of the local folklore. -Ed Hannon, Visions of the Past

Just before the entrance to the Hellfire Club Trail there is a pink cottage. This is not just any old cottage, it is the Killakee House, and its legend is grim.

In the mid 1700’s this home was known as the Dower home, and it became a frequent site of debauchery for the members of the Hellfire Club when their man cave atop the hill caught fire. Activities included devil worship, ritualistic killing of animals (especially black cats), the brutal beating to death of a man, and the burning to death of a woman.

Kilakee House, the site of where local folklore describes, as the most evilest of places.

Kilakee House, the site of where local folklore describes, as the most evilest of places.

The home is known to be haunted with poltergeist activity and a spectral black feline the size of a large dog. Multiple exorcisms have yet to heal this dwelling. I’ve read that it is a restaurant now, but I sure didn’t seem like one. In fact, had it not been for the one car in the drive behind the chain bound iron gate, I would’ve thought this place to be barren.

A lovely hike photo by Christa Thompson

Here you can enjoy another lovely hike just across the road from the trail head to the Hellfire Club. Plenty of shade and beautiful foliage will leave you feeling refreshed.

Just across the street is Massey Woods, remains of the Killakee Estate inherited by the Massey family in 1880. If you have the time I recommend a walk through its trails. It is a lovely forest steeping with wonder, a portal to the imagination.

photo by Christa Thompson

photo by Christa Thompson

We Pressed On to the Hellfire Club

The hike to the summit of Montpelier Hill is steep. I passed a man picking magic mushrooms, unusual but funny. The woods were thin, just enough to enjoy the trees perched along the steep hillside with patterns of sunlight beaming through. Fall is certainly the perfect time of year to enjoy this hike and the changing colors of the forest.

The forest seems magical on the way to the Hellfire Club photo by Christa Thompson

The forest seems magical on the way to the Hellfire Club photo by Christa Thompson

We finally reached the end of the trail marked by blackberry bushes ripe for the picking. The clearing was so vast, and the sky was so clear that you could see all of the city below. There it was, rudely displaced on this perfect green hill with this perfect view from high above the city…the Hellfire Club.

photo by Christa Thompson

photo by Christa Thompson

From behind the Hellfire Club photo by Christa Thompson

From behind the Hellfire Club photo by Christa Thompson

photo by Christa Thompson

photo by Christa Thompson

Its stone walls were as dark as the legends that came from them. The energy of this building was cautious, and curious. Naturally I went inside to investigate.

Walking into the Hellfire Club was like walking into a dark alley in the middle of the night. Immediately all of your senses are on guard and you have that feeling that you should be getting through this as quickly as possible.

photo by Christa Thompson

photo by Christa Thompson

Your gut tells you that these walls are alive, with stories to tell…

photo by Christa Thompson

photo by Christa Thompson

photo by Christa Thompson

photo by Christa Thompson

And, that you don’t belong there…

photo by Christa Thompson

photo by Christa Thompson

We made our rounds through the corridors, speculating its structure, trying to understand its story. Outside and around the back of the building were these displaced mounds that no one seems to mention…ever, nonetheless curious.

unusual mounds behind the Hellfire Club, Ed is examining them photo by Christa Thompson

unusual mounds behind the Hellfire Club, Ed is examining them photo by Christa Thompson

We started to head back towards the trail, to make our decent to the car park. I left with more questions than I had before I arrived. Questions I will never have answers to. Perhaps this is why people make answers, answers that become legends, legends that lure people in and build landscapes of something fantastic.

pieces of the view on the way up photo by Christa Thompson

pieces of the view on the way up photo by Christa Thompson

Blackberry time! photo by Christa Thompson

Blackberry time! photo by Christa Thompson

A deer looks right at me on my way down the hill photo by Christa Thompson

A deer looks right at me on my way down the hill photo by Christa Thompson

Our tour of legends continues into the Wicklow Mountains to the Monastic Settlement of Glendalough, the site of the first written Irish legends from their ancient oral passage.

In the mean time if you’re thinking about going:

How to visit the Hellfire Club


About Christa Thompson

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Christa Thompson is the Founder and Senior Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. Christa has been traveling the world since 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

7 Comments on this post

  1. Great shots Christa, Spent many a summers day as a kid up here and over at Massey s estate, Great memories. Did Ed tell you the story about that large boulder half way up the hill or about the big black dog, who is said to haunt the area?

    edmooneyphotography / Reply
  2. Actually don’t know the story about the boulder, do tell?!?!

  3. Ah this brings me back. I lived not too far from there. We often went there for a walk and the view, the fresh air and the mystery. We used to climb up the chimney, not sure I’d be able to do that now. You are right though, you can sense something in the hellfire club; the winds taunt and tease and whisper secrets of long ago. With age I hear them less, but as a kid the experience was surreal.

    Elle / Reply
  4. […] after stumbling down from Montpelier Hill, the pedestal of Dublin’s eerie and ominous Hellfire Club, Visions of the Past writer Ed […]

  5. […] If you missed A Tour of Legends, Dublin Ireland Part 1 the Hellfire Club, read it here! […]

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