Hell Fire Club in the Wicklow Mountains

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I recently took the most spontaneous trip of my life. I had a friend visiting whose next stop was Dublin. He was packing up his things to depart for the airport in 30 minutes, and we were both lamenting that we didn’t have more time together. “You should’ve come to Dublin! What bad planning…” Next thing you know, bags packed, flight bought, day off in 30 minutes. New record for me!

It was a great trip because I have been to Dublin several times for work, but never been able to get out into the woods and mountains. Our friends there are natives and were more than happy to take us on walks in Wicklow.

One place we went was called Hell Fire. Our Dubliner guide/friend told us that it was originally built as a men’s club and there was plenty of illicit activities that went on there, like gambling among other things. Supposedly the devil came to play cards one night and someone called him on cheating, so he burnt the place down.

Our guide’s parents also told him that if he ran around the giant rock in the path on the way to the top, he could see the devil. You’d have to run around it 20 times forwards and 15 times backwards. He says in retrospect, this was likely a ploy on his parents part to tire him and his siblings out. And at the time he did wonder why he would want to see the devil, but he did the obligatory running anyway.

I haven’t been able to confirm either of these stories. This website suggests it was a hunting lodge built in 1725 by the Speaker of the Irish House of Parliament. But that’s not nearly as fun.

In any case, the top of the hill is quite windy, but provides a beautiful view of Dublin. And the woods. Oh the woods! There are some super magical trees in there. I was pretty sure a wizard was going to appear at any moment.