Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Haunted Hell Fire Club

By Russell Shortt

The Hell Fire Club, I remember first hearing of this
hellish but curiously alluring building as a small child lost in the
mountains of Wicklow on a gloomy, foggy and bitterly cold night. May I
hasten to add that I was safely tucked away in the back of a warm car
with my sleeping siblings whilst my father regaled my mother of the
hell-raising escapades of the Club's colourful members. Years later I
happened across it quite unexpectedly, in fact I didn't know what it
was until I stopped in a local tavern for a wee dram of whiskey to warm
the cockles. It is now little more than a ruin which sits on the summit
of Montpelier, a hill in the Dublin mountains.

It was built in
the 1720s by William Connolly, the speaker of the Irish House of
Commons, as a hunting lodge. Originally called Mount Pelier, it
consisted of two large rooms and a hall on the upper floor and kitchen
and servant's hall on the ground floor. The original Hell Fire Club was
established at West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire in 1741 by Sir Francis
Dashwood. It soon became infamous with rumour of pagan rituals, sexual
orgies and devil worship. Taking Dashwood's model as inspiration,
Richard Parsons, the First Earl of Rosse established a Hell Fire Club
in Ireland. The Club was an exclusive retreat for wealthy rakes who got
up to high jinks, allegedly drinking heavily, engaging in madcap sex
orgies and dabbling in the occult.

Rumours spread throughout
Dublin City that the devil had appeared amongst the fine gentleman
disguised as a weary traveller seeking food and lodging. The fine
gentlemen taking him for chump, dragged him into a game of cards to
take whatever the poor old sod had left. Whilst the game was in full
flow, a hand of cards was dropped on the floor, reaching down to scoop
them up one of the rakes saw that the stranger was not sporting shoes,
no, rather there was a hideous pair of cloven hooves, the devil rather
bizarrely appeared windy, disappearing in a plume of smoke, leaving
behind the mark of his goat-like hooves, which can be seen within the
walls of the lodge to this day.

Russell
Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading
specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours
and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source Russell
Shortt, http://www.exploringireland.net - http://www.visitscotlandtours.com


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