One of the best features that I've discovered about living in Dublin, is the ease at changing scenery in a relatively small area. Within only a 30 minute drive from point A to point B, you can reach the sea, like we covered in this post about Sandymount Strand or White Rock Beach. Then there's the bustling city itself, as seen here in a previous post on Dublin. Today I'm taking you into the mountains, to a spot known as Hell Fire Club. Standing atop Montpelier Hill in the Dublin Mountains, Hell Fire Club is a mere five minutes off the M50 motorway and only 30 minutes from city centre.
The name "Hell Fire Club" refers to the ruined building found at the summit of Montpelier Hill, a location known as one of the most haunted places in all of Ireland. These rumours began in 1725 when the construction of a hunting lodge was built around an ancient cairn. Some of the cairn's stones were supposedly used in the formation, which upset the devil himself! After the original owner's death, the building was acquired by Dublin's chapter of the Hell Fire Club, a group of aristocrats known for their scandalous behavior and debauchery. Outrageous rumours were told that this meeting spot hosted men to drink, gamble, have sex and even murder for sport. Other gossip reports told of devil worshiping taking place here, and possibly even still some satanic rituals take place here in present day.
|Exploring the abandoned ruins of Hell Fire Club|
While these tales of visits from the devil and the ghosts who haunt the building are great for a dramatic story line, I'm happy to report that in our travels to this spot I've never encountered such drama. However, the stunning views overlooking Dublin might just be worth a visit from a poltergeist! Currently, Hell Fire Club is the perfect location for hill walkers to get in a lovely hike, breathe in that fresh, crisp air and enjoy the scenic views from the summit.
|If you have this view, you've nearly reached the top!|
We recently ventured to the mountains for an afternoon stroll and some time to explore the area. The free car park and main entrance to the walking paths can easily be seen from Old Military Road. The main walking route is a wide, well trodden dirt path that circles the hill, making the journey a moderate one, but the fallen trees, muddy tracks and the uphill climb mean it is not stroller friendly. We mostly stayed on the main path for our first visit, although there are smaller, marked trails throughout the area. It took our 2 adult and 2 children party 45 minutes to reach the summit. These 45 minutes included collecting pine cones, admiring the horses trekking through the Spruces, climbing onto the felled timber piles, playing pretend fishing in the rainwater and other kid-friendly diversions along the way.
|Muddy streams form along the path from the recent rainfall|
|Just off the main path, a forest full of fun|
|A balance beam in its natural environment|
|The sign was posted after the timber piles!|
The abandoned building, despite some graffiti and puddles of rainwater, was still in pretty good shape. The children loved entering through the "hidden" door and exploring it's multiple rooms. I preferred the gorgeous surroundings and stunning views of the city and Dublin Bay, where you could spot the famous red Poolbeg Chimneys and see Howth from a distance. The children were happy to run freely in the field too, and I look forward to warmer weather for a picnic back here this summer. For our descent we choose the more treacherous, steep path but it was still quite manageable for us all.
|Dublin City beyond the green|
|Exploring the Hell Fire Club ruins|
|Posing in one of the abandoned building's windows|
I should note that I've been back to Hell Fire Club without the kids and that 45 minute walk to the top, only took about 25 minutes. So it's a great location for an enjoyable brisk winter walk that can be completed in under an hour. Don't let the name scare you away from one of Dublin's extraordinary offers!
|Gorgeous setting for a winter's stroll|
|A bit of snow while overlooking Piperstown Gap|
|A view of Dublin Bay on the horizon|
Have you visited Hell Fire Club? What did you think of it? And do you have any stories to tell of its terrifying past? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!