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The Military Road .. by wicklore   (Show all posts)
wicklore
2011-04-22 21:37:58
"The Hell Fire Club" from wicklore Expand pics
The Hell Fire Club (Expand pics)
The Military Road: The Hellfire Club
The Military Road runs through the heart of the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains from Rathfarnham to Aughavannagh in deepest Wicklow. The road is 55kms long, and it was constructed between 1800 and 1809 in the wake of the 1798 Rebellion. It was designed to open up the wild Wicklow Mountains to the British army to assist them in reaching the insurgents who were hiding there. A number of military barracks were built along its length which were used to house the soldiers who could rapidly respond when rebels were afoot in the area.

Today the road offers excellent access to the mountains around Glenasmole, Glencree, Sally Gap, Glendasan, Glendalough, Glenmalure and Aughavannagh. It is a great route to see and admire some of the best scenery in Dublin & Wicklow. But besides the mountains and valleys there are many other things of interest along the road that are worth mentioning. From the supernatural to the mythical, the Military Road passes through areas rich in history.

One such curious piece of history is the Hell Fire Club. Shortly after the Military Road begins to rise above Dublin in Rathfarnham, it passes by the Hell Fire Woods car park on the slope of Montpelier Hill. At 383 metres, Montpelier Hill doesn’t have the required prominence to enter the MountainViews lists of hills. However this hill offers amazing views over Dublin and the coast. In 1725 a hunting lodge, named Mount Pelier, was built at the summit, using stone from a nearby passage tomb. The destruction of the tomb gave rise to a sense that the building was cursed. Soon after this a storm blew the roof off the building. The roof was rebuilt with more stone and a series of paranormal events were subsequently reported. The central belief was that the Devil was active on the hill and in the lodge. This reputation was further enhanced when members of the Irish Hell Fire Club, which was active in the years 1735 to 1741, began using the lodge as a meeting place. There were many stories of wild behaviour and debauchery as well as occult practices and demonic appearances which added to the local folklore. One tale involved the ritual killing of a dwarf. This will be revisited when I talk about Kilakee House in another post.

The Hell Fire Club is still standing, and appears as a hulking stone building. It is in surprisingly good repair considering it has been abandoned for two centuries. Whatever your beliefs, there are few people who don’t get an eerie feeling in its dark interior. I have personally seen a Rottweiler dog escape from its owner and leap from a first floor window. (Unharmed but raising the hair on the backs of the necks of the witnesses). With a good dose of spookiness it can be a thrilling place for children to visit with adult supervision.

So now when you whizz past the Hell Fire Club on the way to walk elsewhere in Dublin/Wicklow maybe you will take a moment to reflect on this curious place!
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