Recently I found this 1902 illustration of the ruined building that stands on top of Mountpelier Hill in the Dublin mountains, uploaded to Flickr by the Internet Archive book images. We’ve long been interested in these ruins and wandered up to them in December 2012, something I’d recommend for any readers who haven’t done it.
The history of the ruins is mysterious, and a belief that the site is haunted dates right back to the eighteenth century. Joseph Holt, an important figure in the revolutionary United Irishmen, hid there while on the run in 1798 and wrote about his experiences:
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.
In his wonderful book ‘Blasphemers and Blackguards: The Irish Hellfire Clubs’, David Ryan noted that it “remains uncertain if there was an actual connection between the club and this building”, he noted that “in the 1820s there were rumours that a murder had been committed there” quoting one contemporary source which stated about the hill “on the crown of this hill is a lodge falling to ruin, not having been inhabited for thirty years: it is called the haunted house, and the hill Bevan’s Hill: local tradition states that in this house a man, named Bevan, murdered his wife.”
Ryan notes in his book that the lodge was constructed for William Connolly, speaker of the House of Commons, and that “the lodge may have been designed by Edward Lovett Pearce, architect of Connolly’s mansion, Castletown House in County Kildare, and the Parliament House on College Green.” Ryan’s work tells us that by early twentieth century this ruin was very much central to the folklore of the Hellfire Club, and that by the late twentieth century it was even appearing as ‘Hell Fire Club’ on Ordnance Survey maps of the area.While the Hellfire Club may never have utilised the site, other stories in the immediate area of the ruin and the mysterious nature of the site himself ensure it’s still a spooky trip. The wall around the lodge, shown in the 1902 illustration, is no longer there, and this great aerial shot from South Dublin County Libraries collection gives some idea how it has changed:
Lastly, when I posted the above illustration on CHTM’s Facebook (Give us a like as we post a lot of content there) the first reply referenced a rave that occurred at the site in the 1990s, one of many. This sparked a wave of coverage in local and national media, and we’d be interested in getting our hands on some of this if anyone has any of it! It’s an interesting part of the history of the ruin. A comment on the CHTM Facebook page remembered a rave in the 1990s.
I remember there was a good crowd up there, and there was strobe lighting emanating from windows of the ruins. At one point during the night at least 3 cop cars arrived at the summit. This resulted in lots of people dancing in the headlights
A great video giving a tour of the ruin can be found on YouTube, uploaded by thebettyfordclinic who have uploaded some excellent videos of abandoned buildings in Dublin.