What Was the Hellfire Club?

The Hellfire Clubs were founded in the eighteenth century, and were typically comprised of young aristocrats with a shared interest in drinking, debauchery and gambling. The first Hellfire Club was founded in England by the Duke of Wharton in 1719, but it was suppressed by order of King George Ist in 1721.  The Irish Hellfire Club was founded in the 1730s, but had largely broken up by the early 1740s as it lost key members through death, bankruptcy and exile.  One of the most infamous Hellfire Clubs was established in England by Sir Francis Dashwood in 1755, and nicknamed the ‘Monks of Medmenham Abbey’ as they met in an old Cistercian monastery on the banks of the Thames. By all accounts Dashwood’s version of the Hellfire Club matched its forebears for orgies of debauchery and drunkenness, and they are said to have performed profane versions of Franciscan rites and ceremonies. You can find more information about the history of the Hellfire Clubs here.

Who Were the Hellfire Club Members?

The Irish Hellfire Club members were some of the elite of society, and included peers of the realm, high ranking army officers as well as wealthy gentlemen and artists.  Members included Richard Parsons, 1st Earl of Rosse, Simon Luttrell 1st Earl Carhampton, Lord Santry and the artist James Worsdale.  You can find a portrait of the Irish Hellfire Club and more about the members of the organisation and their stories here.

What is the Hellfire Club?

Today the Hellfire Club generally refers to the hunting lodge on the summit of Montpelier Hill, 6km from Tallaght in South County Dublin.  You can find more on the story of the building here.  To find directions and information on how to get to the Hellfire Club please see here.