On Sunday, a gang of us travelled up to Montpelier Hill to see the infamous Hellfire Club lodge, which seemed about as far removed from a normal Christmas day out as anything we could think of. If the lodge was ever actually even used by the Hellfire Club is the subject of considerable debate, but it does have quite a spooky feel to it, and the legends and folklore that surround the ruin made it too tempting to resist a visit.
In 1798, with the United Irishmen rebellion unraveling, Wicklow rebel Joseph Holt stopped off at Montpelier Hill. Even then, rumours of hauntings abounded the old lodge, and he would write in his memoirs:
I lay down in the arched room of that remarkable building, on Montpelier Hill. I felt so confident of the protection of the Almighty, that the name of enchantment, and the idle stories which were told of the place had but a slight hold of my mind; I thought there could be nothing worse there than myself, and having returned thanks, and praying for a continuance of God’s blessing and protection, I composed myself, and soon fell into as profound a sleep as if I had been, as formerly, reposing in my own comfortable bed, in quiet times, with my happy family about me.
Holt went on to write about the magnificent views of Dublin afforded by the hill. Certainly, if you haven’t been up it is more than worth the effort. Hellfire Club or not, I’m not quite as brave as Joseph Holt. I won’t be sleeping in the lodge.