Derek Cullen is an adventure tour leader and travel writer from Ireland. Having spent more than six years leading expeditions in Africa, Derek is currently working as a freelance writer from various destinations around the World.
Latest posts by Derek Cullen (see all)
- Dublin: The Top 20 Attractions - January 8, 2018
- Camping Alone at the Most Haunted House in Ireland - October 31, 2017
- The 7 Smallest Countries to Visit in Europe - October 16, 2017
Whatever we do in life, fear is always the one constant and this is especially true when it comes to childhood myths and horror stories. In case of horror stories from my own hometown – there is one building and a story which comes to mind during Halloween in Ireland: the Hellfire Club. While many believe these stories to be fabricated, the truth behind this particular place is even more frightening and furthermore entirely true.
The Hellfire Club is an abandoned structure located atop the Montpelier Hill, the closest mountain to the city of Dublin. Standing alone on top of this mountain, the ruins strike an imposing sight from the town below. However, it’s the actual story behind this so-called “hunting lodge” which is literally… terrifying.
So in the month of October and just before the Halloween, I set out to endure a terrifying night at this infamous building, but wait – let me outline the story behind it first.
History of the Hellfire Club
William Connolly was one of the wealthiest men in Ireland back in 1725 when he and his men first built the Hellfire Club. It was intended to serve as a hunting lodge. At that time very few people knew that it was actually constructed right on top of an ancient Neolithic Tomb, using… its own stone.
Surprisingly, Connolly and his men were fully aware that Neolithic people, one of the earliest of mankind, believed that the stone in these tombs possessed powerful spirits. It was also considered a satanic crime to interfere with something of this nature and for anyone who did, there were sure to be repercussions and unimaginable consequences. Regardless of this threat, most of this ancient passage was torn from the ground and then reused to erect a hunting lodge for leisure and entertainment.
Having burnt down several times, the lodge was eventually abandoned but it was following the owners’ departure that the stories began to emerge. While these stories first started as myths and urban legends, a very haunting truth would soon emerge and even overshadow them, especially during Halloween time in Ireland.
Killakee, Myths and the Hellfire Club
Just a stone throw away from the Montpelier Hill, the woods of Killakee were always said to be haunted by Evelin spirts and one in particular – that of a black cat. Countless sightings and some mysterious events have always surrounded this area, but nothing to the magnitude of the building on top of the Montpelier Hill…
During one stormy night, sometime in the 1700’s, a mysterious man appeared in front of the Hellfire Club, seeking refuge from the nasty weather outside. Having knocked on the door, this man was invited inside to play cards with the hosts. There was nothing unusual about this scenario until a playing card fell to the ground.
Upon picking it up, one of the members noticed a pair of cloven hoofs on the opposite side of the table, where this stranger was now sitting. Realizing that they were now playing cards with the devil himself, he stayed quiet until after the stranger left the table and disappeared into the darkness. Sometime later following this incident, the club was burnt down.
The Truth About the Hellfire Club
As already mentioned, the truth about the Hellfire Club is far worse than any myth. In fact, it is widely believed that the members of this particular club had indulged in satanic worship. In doing so, they had also committed the most hideous crimes – those involving slavery, torture and the disappearance of people. Nothing was ever proven, but the locals knew that these demonic stories were, in fact, true about the Hellfire Club.
While the sight’s area is surrounded with a particularly luscious forest, the locals who use this area for an early evening stroll or a hike on a sunny afternoon would never dream of doing so after dark. In fact, even the ghost tours which once visited the building have stopped. In addition, the world-famous experts who had visited the area in the past had confirmed that something sinister still resides there.
Camping Alone at the Hellfire Club
Having hiked from the front door of my childhood house, I reached Montpelier Hill just before the darkness, with food and water supplies, plus a tent strapped to my back. Halloween was approaching in Ireland, so I had intended to camp alone next to the building and face the biggest fear from my childhood, in addition to facing my fear of camping alone, in general.
Taking a walk through the rooms of the building, the noise from pigeons was enough to stop my heart from beating on more than few occasions. A strange presence seemed to also be present at every turn. Part of me felt that this was just my imagination. But when you stand there alone, next to this creepy old building as darkness is falling around you – this haunting place with all of its dark legends, will feel real in every possible sense.
Pushing through the branches, I placed my tent just inside a tree line and as the wind blew, I thought back to the story of that strange visitor who disappeared into the woods. The weather was wild on this particular night and in some way it was better since this deafening wind noise was enough to drown out my thoughts for what was happening around the tent. Eventually, I put some earplugs in and the last thing that I remember was the sight of my tent shaking all around…
Facing the height of my fears during Halloween in Ireland
As the sun was rising, I took the tent down and ventured back into the building on the hill. The Hellfire Club. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to find myself camping alone at this dreadful place. I took on this adventure to overcome my general fears of camping alone because I felt that “jumping into the deep end” was the best way to face them. At the same time, I was still wondering throughout this whole night as to whether spirits and demonic creatures were real, not to mention whether these same woods would become the point of my own disappearance.
In some ways, this experience felt beneficial, for where in the World camping alone in the future could possibly feel any more terrifying? However, as I hiked back down the hill and took one last look over my shoulder, I fully understood that I was still very much afraid of this haunting, imposing and mysterious figure at the very top of the Montpelier Hill. I guess no matter what we do in life, there will always be a fear of the unknown, but then what is the point of any adventure, without a small dose of fear?