The Hell Fire Club is a popular walking area on Montpelier Hill in the Dublin Mountains with a ghostly history. It is situated only 30 minutes away from Dublin’s city centre.
The Reality (the walk)
There are a variety of walks available, but the 2 mains ones are looped walking trails through the Hell Fire Club Forest according to the sign post I found in the car park:
- Pine Loop Trail (Montpelier) – 4km looped trail which starts at the car park and is marked along the trail in blue. Takes about 60 minutes to walk and is a moderate difficulty. Along the route you will find Douglas fir and spruce towards the forest road. The path goes right up to the Montpelier hill to show off beautiful views of Dublin and the bay. The forest road continues over Glenasmole and Piperstown Gap on the way to the car park again.
- Forest Loop Trail – 5.5km looped trail which starts at the car park and is marked along the trail in green. Takes about 75 minutes to walk and is a moderate difficulty. The trail starts off though Douglas fir and spruce trails going towards the forest road, right turn up Montpelier Hill with it’s beautiful views. The trail goes along the forest boundary with views of the ruins of Carthy’s Castle. The path provides views of Glenasmole and Piperstown Gap before heading back to the car park.
The Ghost Story
On the top of the hill, it is believed there was an ancient passage grave marked with a cairn, the mount made of stones topped together as a memorial. There was a wealthy man, Speaker Connolly of the Irish House of Parliament, who built a hunting lodge on the top of the hill in 1725. It is said that he destroyed the cairn and the passage graves while constructing his lodge, and going as far using one of the standing stones in the construction of his fireplace, thereby causing unrest of the previously resting souls.
The strange stories around the Hell Fire Club were said to have started with the roof of the lodge which was blown off in a storm.
After Connolly’s death, the building was said to have been a meeting place for a club of “wild young gentlemen” (who were generally up to no good), hence the nickname “Hell Fire Club”. “Hell Fire Clubs” made up of young wealthy citizens across Ireland and Britain were common in the 18th century.