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wicklore
2011-04-22 21:43:53
"Kilakee House (courtesy Wikipedia)" from wicklore Contract pics
Picture: Kilakee House (courtesy Wikipedia) (Contract pics)

The Military Road: Kilakee House
The Military Road runs past the Hell Fire Woods car park on Montpelier Hill just above Rathfarnham in the Dublin hills. Also situated here is a lesser known but equally interesting building - Kilakee House. (Or more correctly this building sits on the site of the original Kilakee House, but I’ll call it Kilakee House for simplicity sake). There is a supernatural history attached to Kilakee House that is often merged and confused with its more famous Hell Fire Club neighbour that sits on top of the hill. (see my post on The Military Road: The Hellfire Club for more about this). There are direct connections between Kilakee House and the Hell Fire Club that have resulted in some shared ghost stories. For example, when the Hell Fire Club was damaged by fire in the mid 1700’s after some episode of evil sacrifice or debauchery, the members of the Hell Fire Club used Kilakee House for a period of time to continue their meetings. Stories about a giant black cat and a dwarfish figure that haunt Kilakee House can be traced to accounts of both a black cat and a dwarf being sacrificed by the Hell Fire Club in their hilltop den around 1735.

In the late 1960’s the Evening Herald and Evening Press newspapers carried a number of reports regarding a Mrs Margaret O'Brien and her husband Nicholas who were converting the house into an arts centre. The redevelopment had been a troubled affair with tradesmen employed on the work leaving after complaining of ghostly activity. One night, an artist friend of the O'Brien's and two workmen were confronted by a spectral figure and a black cat with glowing red eyes. The artist painted a portrait of the cat which hung in the house for several years after. Although locals were sceptical of the reports, further apparitions were reported, including two nuns called Blessed Margaret and Holy Mary who had taken part in black masses on Montpelier Hill. There were also reports of ringing bells and poltergeist activity. In 1970 an RTÉ television crew recorded a documentary at the house. In the documentary a clairvoyant called Sheila St. Clair communicated with the spirits of the house through automatic writing. Most remarkable however was that in 1971 a plumber working in the house discovered a grave under the floor with a skeleton of a small dwarfish figure. This eerily reflected the tales of the dwarfish figure said to haunt the building ever since being murdered by the Hell Fire Club back somewhere around 1735.

Whether true or not, these stories might capture your imagination as you drive past Kilakee House on your way to walk in the Wicklow hills Today Montpelier Hill and much of the surrounding lands, including Kilakee Estate (now called Lord Massy's Estate) are owned by Coillte and are open to the public. (Kilakee House itself remains in private hands). Kilakee House has a more normal history as a hunting lodge involving lords and ladies, walled gardens, and inheritance, but we’re not interested in ‘normal’ are we?!!
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