In 1741, this notorious building in the Dublin Mountains was struck by lightning, damaging the structure even further. Naturally people started looking for omens… Was the Devil angry? Shaun Ivory tells the chilling story of The Hellfire Club


It was several years ago and I was walking in the Dublin mountains with an old walking buddy, Vincent; he was a Dub, I a Bray man, and we had walked in a few countries together – the High Tatras in southern Poland, the levadas in Madeira, the Aran Islands – and even more separately. I had first met him on a walking holiday in Czechoslovakia (as was) later the Czech Republic, now Czcechia.

But I had left Ireland at age 16 to join the RAF and now, rather belatedly, was reverting to my roots.
As a consequence of my youthful urge to travel I had forgotten about the walking opportunities back home. Vincent, however, was thoroughly familiar with the Dublin and Wicklow hills and always eager to show how much I had missed by going away.

So as we stood there, viewing our little metropolis, Howth, Dublin Bay, Bray Head and the two Sugar Loafs, he pointed inland, over to the west and south of where we were standing, maybe some 10 kilometres away. “That’s the old Hellfire Club lodge. Can you see it? Just a ruin now, of course.”

I turned to stare at him. “The Hellfire Club?” I was genuinely puzzled. “But they only had them in England, didn’t they?”
He laughed, happy to score a point.

“Not so. That was there long before some of the ones across the water.”

I was surprised but didn’t want to argue; he knew this territory far better than I. Besides, it was such a beautiful day and there was plenty more to engage our interests.

So I forgot all about the incident until many years had passed and I came across the Hellfire Clubs in a different context.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own