Hellfire Club Reveals Ancient Passage Tomb

Newgrange in Ireland is by far the best known of the many ‘passage tombs’ that dot the Irish landscape.

This ‘World Heritage Site’ is among the most visited tourist attractions in Ireland with busloads of visitors from every corner of the globe making the trek to the County Meath location where the fine Visitor Centre interprets the site before the short bus-ride to the actual burial mound and the visit into the chamber itself.

Hellfire Club, Dublin

What is less well known perhaps is that there are hundreds of these burial tombs around the Irish countryside, most lying idle or unexplored.

What treasures may lie within!

One such site in the Dublin mountains is beside the building known as the ‘Hellfire Club’. These now derelict ruins on Montpelier Hill were built as a shooting lodge in 1725. The lodge was built by William Connolly who at the time was the richest man in all of Ireland. The construction of the building disturbed and damaged the nearby passage tomb and is said that this is the reason the site became associated with the supernatural and the occult.

The lodge was later leased to Richard Parsons who was the Earl of Rosse. Together with some of his associates they formed a wild drinking club where dabbling in the occult led to the group being labelled as ‘Dublin’s Hellfire Club’ or alternatively as ‘The Young Bucks of Dublin’. It is believed that black masses were held at the site with animal sacrifices common. The club’s mascot was a black cat and it is said the membership always left a spare chair vacant should the devil wish to attend their gatherings!

Richard Parsons was a notorious prankster who once presented himself naked when the prominent visiting clergyman Samuel Madden arrived at his home. Another member of the group was James Worsdale who was also an infamous womanizer and drinker. Perhaps the most dangerous member of the Hellfire Club was Henry, fourth Baron Barry of Santry, who is reported to have murdered and burned a servant, only to escape punishment by buying off witnesses. He was eventually sentenced to death after murdering another servant in a drunken frenzy. Of course his friends intervened and secured his release and exile to Nottingham in England.

The legend of the Hellfire Club lived on after this era, even when the original band of members had dispersed. They were associated with debauchery and devil-worship although it is likely that, philosophically, the group were free-thinkers or agnostics. Their outrageous pranks and crimes were symptomatic of the era of enlightenment when sections of society attempted to throw of the yoke of the oppressive religious and political atmosphere of their day.

Passage Tomb at the Hellfire Club, Dublin

The damage that was caused to the passage tomb On Montpelier Hill however was permanent and it is only after recent excavations that the full site was finally revealed.

Passage Tombs in Ireland are often about 5000 years old, making them among the oldest structures on the planet, pre-dating the construction of the pyramids in Egypt. The investigative team is being led by Neil Jackman from Abarta Heritage and volunteers from the UCD School of Archaeology. They hope to find bones and other remnants that can accurately date the location. It is acknowledged that the site is just one of many such tombs in the Dublin mountains.

It is estimated that there are at least 200 Court Tombs, perhaps hundreds of Passage Tombs, at least 500 to 550 Wedge Tombs, and 163 portal tombs found so far in Ireland.

With the vast majority unexplored, many lying boarded up or derelict it is easy to agree with the notion that the history of Ireland has not yet been written.

About the author

Michael Green Michael Green is Manager of The Information about Ireland Site

4 thoughts on “Hellfire Club Reveals Ancient Passage Tomb

  1. Hi Michael I wanna say thank you for posting the beautiful amazing views from Ireland places, i can see Ireland is the beautiful country to see and to visit. I would to visit Irish one of this day to see the defferent beautiful views.

    I”m from Toronto Canada its summer right now her when it gets humid its really hot and its hard to breath,when fall and winter season its cold up her but I love and enjoy being her its a beautiful country to leave too.

    Thank you for sharing the views pictures from Ireland its a beautiful place to see.
    Have a nice day Michael take care.

  2. Hi Michael, I went to the Hellfire Club in 2011 with my nephew on a three week trip to Ireland. We were celebrating his graduation from Maine Maritime Academy. We had the greatest trip and time over in Ireland. Our ancestors hail from an area called Grallagh, just outside of Nenagh, in County Tipperary, North. It was a long hike up that big hill to get to the top. I have RA and have it mostly under control, and was 53 when we went on the Hell Fire tour. What an experience that was. What rotten lousy horrible English young men those rogues were! They got away with literal murder and more. I had read that they also would go into Dublin and grab young women and bring them back up to the Club and do what they wanted to them. These guys should have been hung for all that they did on the top of that hill! We were told a little about what was out back, and that really made me mad. To think that, that place was built for these losers to only party and in building this house of horrors they literally destroyed thousands of years of ancient Irish history. I hope that what the archeologists are doing today, they are able to salvage a lot! They should plow down that Hell Fire club ruin, once they uncover the real history that is there! I am from the USA, from Massachusetts, and my Nephew was from Maine, but now working in Texas on ships. He loved seeing the country of his ancestors. I took him over in 2007 when he graduated from high school for about two weeks. So we returned to see much more when he graduated college. I have been to Ireland many more other times. Loved reading about this!

  3. Great story! That really gets the (unrealized) explorer in me intrigued. How cool would it be to discover more of these throughout the country?! Count me in if anyone’s planning an expedition 😉

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