The Hell Fire Club

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Where: Dublin, Ireland

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When: 01 January 1910

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Home of debauchery and devil worship or a gentleman's club? (Maybe the two aren't mutually exclusive!) Generations of Dubliners have been regaled with lurid tales of the goings-on in the Hell Fire Club at Killakee in the Dublin Mountains.

Would love to know more about this legendary place and hoping that you can help us separate fact from fiction, while not sparing any of the gory details of course!

Date: Circa 1910??

NLI Ref.: L_CAB_09345

Info:

Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 45795
hellfireclub killakee dublin dublinmountains ireland leinster ruins bowlerhat cokehat robertfrench williamlawrence lawrencecollection glassnegative williamconolly mountpelier mountpelierlodge 1725 montpelier montpelierhill clubthineifrinn richardchappellwhaley burnchapelwhaley limerickbybeachcomber nationallibraryofireland

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  • profile

    O Mac

    • 03/Apr/2013 08:22:35

    You'll want to play your cards right!

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    Niall McAuley

    • 03/Apr/2013 08:33:34

    Used to go for walks on a Sunday up there as a child. The last hill is a killer.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 03/Apr/2013 08:37:27

    GeoHive OS 25" map link

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 03/Apr/2013 08:40:56

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/gnmcauley It seems to have been (in ruins) as it says on the OS map for ever...

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    DannyM8

    • 03/Apr/2013 08:41:04

    This building – a hunting lodge built around 1725 by William Conolly – was originally called Mount Pelier and since its construction the hill has also gone by the same name

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    DannyM8

    • 03/Apr/2013 08:42:06

    Originally there was a cairn with a prehistoric passage grave on the summit. Stones from the cairn were taken and used in the construction of Mount Pelier lodge. Shortly after completion, a storm blew the roof off. Local superstition attributed this incident to the work of the Devil, a punishment for interfering with the cairn. Since this time, Montpelier Hill has become associated with numerous paranormal events

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 03/Apr/2013 08:44:06

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] Ooooh, the work of the Devil! More please...

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    Gregory PC

    • 03/Apr/2013 08:46:41

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montpelier_Hill This was the story I remembered as a child... "One of the best known of these tells of a stranger who arrived at the club on a stormy night. Invited in, he joined the members in a card game. One player dropped his card on the floor and when he bent under the table to retrieve it noticed that the stranger had a cloven hoof. At this point the visitor disappeared in a ball of flame."

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    DannyM8

    • 03/Apr/2013 08:48:43

    Blasphemers Blackguards: The Irish Hellfire Clubs by David Ryan is published by Merrion Books. "I eventually concluded my research on the Irish hellfire clubs and published a book on the subject last May. I never found any evidence to definitively link the Dublin Hellfire Club with the ruined hunting lodge on Mountpelier. But there must have been some connection, given the pervasiveness of the folklore and the building’s enduring reputation as the club’s meeting place." www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/uncovering-the-origins-o...

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    O Mac

    • 03/Apr/2013 08:50:43

    Inspired Conor MacPhearson to write his great play " The Seafarer"

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    DannyM8

    • 03/Apr/2013 08:53:49

    At this time the ‘Principal’ of the Hellfire Club was a man of huge wealth called Richard Chappell Whaley. His nickname was ‘Burn-Chapel’ Whaley because of his hatred of religion and in particular, the Roman Catholic church. He would amuse himself on Sundays by riding around Dublin setting fire to the thatched roofs of Catholic chapels. It was he who caused the downfall of Mountpelier House. “After an unfrocked clergyman had performed a Black Mass in one of the two upstairs rooms in Mountpelier House, the ceremony ending in the usual drunken revelry, a footman picking his way through the sprawling bodies spilt some drink on Richard Whaley’s coat. Whaley reacted by pouring brandy over the footman and setting him alight. The man fled downstairs clutching at a tapestry hanging by the hall door, trying to douse the flames. Within minutes the whole house was ablaze.” (3) Many Bucks died in the fire, but Whaley managed to survive by leaping out of a window. At the age of 59, he married a woman 40 years his junior. Their son, Thomas ‘Buck’ Whaley was to become the most famous Buck of all. “Born in 1766, it was Buck Whaley who rallied the Hell-Fire club from the low ebb to which it had sunk after the burning of Mountpelier House declaring his intention of ‘defying God and man in nightly revels’. comeheretome.com/2010/01/06/buck-whaley-and-the-hellfire-...

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 03/Apr/2013 08:59:40

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregcarey Excellent! I'd forgotten about the cloven hoof story...

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 03/Apr/2013 09:00:50

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] How come?

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    DannyM8

    • 03/Apr/2013 09:02:48

    From http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] Photostream, you can see the remains of the Cairn. http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulodonnell/4165959385/

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 03/Apr/2013 09:05:16

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] The always excellent Come Here To Me blog - thank you! And the aerial shot is fantastic - you really can see the shape...

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    derangedlemur

    • 03/Apr/2013 09:08:39

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland] It wasn't ruined for the 6" survey: maps.osi.ie/publicviewer/#V1,710801,724316,6,7 (1837)

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    derangedlemur

    • 03/Apr/2013 09:12:06

    The roof blowing off story doesn't seem to square with the fact that there's a solid stone roof on it both in the picture and at the moment. The big question is, is it corballed or vaulted?

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    FrigateRN

    • 03/Apr/2013 09:12:15

    Once again you produce a picture that leads to lots of interesting comments so.....once again, well done NLI.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 03/Apr/2013 09:13:10

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]] Oh, yes it was!

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    derangedlemur

    • 03/Apr/2013 09:16:06

    Even in its heyday, it must have been a fairly ugly establishment. Looks like the Irish penchant for building big ugly lumps on top of exposed hills has a weight of tradition behind it.

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    DannyM8

    • 03/Apr/2013 09:16:07

    William Conolly (9 April 1662 – 30 October 1729), also known as Speaker Conolly and mentioned in this picture of Castletown. http://www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland/7885945376/ He built the first winged Palladian house in Ireland, Castletown House in Celbridge, County Kildare, starting in 1722, and specified that every part of it had to be made from Irish materials. His Dublin town house was on Capel Street, then the most fashionable part of the city. He also commissioned the former Customs House (now the Clarence Hotel) and the Irish Houses of Parliament, the world's first building specifically designed as a bicameral parliament.

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    derangedlemur

    • 03/Apr/2013 09:17:39

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/gnmcauley Ah, its the lodge, not the house? I assumed from http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]'s post that it was Mountpelier House.

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    DannyM8

    • 03/Apr/2013 09:31:14

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] While the building has a rough appearance today, the architecture is of a Palladian design. The upper floor consists of a hall and two reception rooms. On the eastern side, there was a third, timber-floored, level where the sleeping quarters were located.10 On the ground floor is a kitchen, servants' quarters and stairs to the upper floors. The entrance, which is on the upper floor, was reached by a long flight of stairs which is now missing.11 At each side of the building is a room with a lean-to roof which may have been used to stable horses.12 A stone mounting block to assist people onto their horses can be seen on the eastern side.10 To the front there was a semi-circular courtyard, enclosed by a low stone wall and entered by a gate.13 The house faces to the north, looking over Dublin and the plains of Meath and Kildare,14 including Conolly's primary residence at Castletown House in Celbridge.15 The grounds around the lodge consisted of a 1,000-acre (4.0 km2; 1.6 sq mi) deer park.11 The identity of the architect is unknown: the author Michael Fewer has suggested it may have been Edward Lovett Pearce (1699-1733) who was employed by Conolly to carry out works at Castletown in 1724.16

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    Swordscookie

    • 03/Apr/2013 09:45:43

    This is a real coincidence I'm currently reading David Ryan's book mentioned above "Blasphemers and Blackguards" and then you post this. As a former scout leader I went up to nearby Larch Hill many times with the lads and we often hiked across to the club to try to tire them out! (Fat chance of that I can tell you) The club has dominated Dublins skyline for so long that if it ever it fell down we'd all feel naked:-) Nice one Carol. The "Buck" Whaley mentioned above is reputed to have travelled to Jerusalem just to play handball against the Wailing Wall. When I was there in 1995 I remembered the story and thought that he wouldn't do it today. He'd end up in gaol before the first rebound!

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    DannyM8

    • 03/Apr/2013 09:49:55

    onlinecollection.nationalgallery.ie/view/objects/asitem/2... The Hell Fire Club, Dublin, now held by the National Gallery of Ireland, which shows five members of the club seated around a table. The five men are Henry, 4th Baron Barry of Santry (who was tried and convicted for murder in 1739) Simon Luttrell, Lord Irnham; Colonel Henry Ponsonby; Colonel Richard St George and Colonel Clements.

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    DannyM8

    • 03/Apr/2013 09:52:59

    Mount Pelier was let to the club by the Conolly family. Coincidentally, William Conolly had purchased Mountpelier Hill from Philip, Duke of Wharton, founder of the first Hell Fire Club in 1719

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    derangedlemur

    • 03/Apr/2013 10:00:12

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] My comment was based on a misinterpretation of which building we were looking at. The lodge is a bit ugly. The house may have been quite nice.

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 03/Apr/2013 10:08:57

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/swordscookie What a coincidence alright! I have a great one for tomorrow with a lovely portly policeman slap bang in the middle of it...

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    O Mac

    • 03/Apr/2013 10:58:25

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland Based loosely on the legend of The Hellfire Club, The play takes place in the hung-over hours between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It’s the story of the drunk, the very drunk and the no longer drunk who indulge in a little game of cards with the Devil. The prize, unbeknownst to most playing, is the soul of one of their group.

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 03/Apr/2013 15:53:31

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] And who loses their soul? The drunk, the very drunk, or the no longer drunk?

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    O Mac

    • 03/Apr/2013 18:10:46

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland now that would be giving the end away!!! :)

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    La Belle Province

    • 03/Apr/2013 18:23:35

    As always, these discussions do not disappoint! Thank you for some interesting reading.

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    richard39a

    • 04/Apr/2013 08:23:52

    Thank you for posting this photograph. I'd never heard of the book "Blasphemers and Blackguards" (It's highly unlikely bookshops in Birmingham would stock it anyway - they're more interested in filling the shelves with and flogging trash!) and as I'm interested in the byways of Irish history I've just bought it on Amazon.

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 04/Apr/2013 10:11:34

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] Meanie!

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 04/Apr/2013 10:12:02

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/la_belle_province Delighted!

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 04/Apr/2013 10:14:17

    Should we start a Flickroonies Book Club? We could borrow this book title and call ourselves the Blasphemers and Blackguards? http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] Good to know we're boosting sales for David Ryan! I meant to have a look at this yesterday when I was working in our Reading Room but it was too busy...

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    cold measure

    • 04/Apr/2013 12:50:41

    Great shot, visit here every year! Would love to know what really went on in here!

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 04/Apr/2013 13:14:40

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/abandonedminesofireland Me too! (About the knowing what went on - not the visiting every year)

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    La Belle Province

    • 04/Apr/2013 18:06:30

    The book club sounds great, and although I'm not much of a blackguard, I'm a fairly active blasphemer.

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    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 04/Apr/2013 22:05:55

    The Hell Fire Club Limerick Lords, gentlemen, bounders, a liar, Fights, gambling, booze, strange attire, Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, And the selling of soul ... Just 'a quiet night in', at the Hell Fire.

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 05/Apr/2013 10:10:11

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/beachcomberaustralia Bualadh Bos! :)

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    Bo Vandenberg

    • 06/Jun/2013 15:29:35

    A grand ruin!

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 06/Jun/2013 15:49:35

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] It certainly is!