Abandoned ireland


The Hell-Fire Club

Mount Pelier, Dublin

Documenting our Heritage

The Hell Fire Club, situated at 1275 feet, near the summit of Mount Pelier overlooks Dublin city from the south west. The site was originally a passage tomb. The tomb dates from the Neolithic Period (4500 BC to 2000 BC) and was constructed within a circle of large boulders known as a cairn.

William Conolly, a Speaker of the Irish Parliament built the house on Mount Pelier Hill in 1725. Connolly was one of the wealthiest men in Ireland; he had a Dublin house in Capel Street and a country estate at Castletown, near Celbridge. He constructed the club as a hunting lodge. Connolly is said to have destroyed the cairn while building the hunting lodge, making use of the boulders in its construction. Some time later the roof, which originally was slated, was blown off in a great storm. Locals attributed this misfortune to the work of the devil, in revenge for the destruction of the cairn. Following this event the lodge was seen locally as a place of evil. However Connolly replaced the slated roof with an arched one of stone.

The building consisted of two large rooms and a hall on the upper floor. A small loft was over the parlour and hall. The hall-door was reached by a flight of steps. On the ground level was a large kitchen, servant quarters and a number of small rooms. All the windows faced north, commanding a magnificent view of Dublin.

After Connolly's death in 1729, the Hunting Lodge remained unoccupied for a number of years until it was acquired by the infamous Hell Fire Club, from whom it got its name. Hell-Fire clubs were established in the eighteenth century and became associated with outrageous behaviour and depravity.

Richard Parsons, the first Earl of Rosse, established the Hell-Fire Club in Dublin in 1735. The president of the Hell Fire Club was named 'The King of Hell' and was dressed like Satan, with horns, wings and cloven hoofs. One custom was that of leaving the vice-chair unoccupied for the devil in whose honour the first toast was always drunk.

The Clubs became associated with excessive drinking. Scaltheen, a drink made from whiskey and butter was served in abundance during meetings of the Hell Fire Club. Malachi Horan, in the book, Malachi Horan Remembers, says how they always had scaltheen ready at the Jobstown Inn.

Current urban lore tells us that it was, and still is, a site commonly used for the practice of Satanism and other occult activities, and that the Devil himself made brief appearances at some unspecified times in the past.

One story tells us a mysterious stranger seeks shelter on a stormy night, and a card game ensues. A member of the household drops a card, and sees that below the table, the otherwise affable and charming visitor has a cloven hoof. His or her screams made the Devil 'aware of her discovery, and he at once vanished in a thunder-clap leaving a brimstone smell behind him'.

Another story mentions a priest, who stumbled across the club's fun'n'frolics late at night, and discovered that the centre of attention was a huge black cat. 'Breaking free from his captors the cleric grabbed the cat and uttered an exorcism which tore the beast apart. A demon shot up from its corpse. Hurtling through the roof it brought down the ceiling and scattered the assembly.'

Another story tells us that Conolly 'is said to have met the devil in the form of a "black man" in the lodge's dining room, which is probably a variation on the card-game story.

Another story about the club concerns a young Bohernabreena farmer, who curious to find out what went on at the meetings, climbed up Mount Pelier one night. He was found by the members of the Club, dragged into the building and allowed to see the nights' activities. He was found the next morning wandering around the area, unable to speak and tradition says he spent the rest of his life deaf and dumb, unable even to remember his name.


Richard Parsons, the first Earl of Rosse, who established the Hell-Fire Club in Dublin in 1735 was twice Grand Master Mason of Ireland, in 1725 and 1730.