The Hellfire Club Story – Folkore, Myths and Legends
The Hellfire Club Story
The uplands of County Dublin are remarkably rich in folklore and legend, but few places are as ingrained on the consciousness of the capital as the Hellfire Club Story. However, beyond the debauchery and dark deeds of the eighteenth century, there are ancient stories that surround Montpelier Hill and the Dublin Mountains. The valley of Glenasmole in particular is imbued with tales of Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the Fianna. The majority of the Fenian tales deal with hunting, feasting and witchcraft and do not contain any specific placenames that can be identified today, with the exception of two tales ‘The Destruction of Da Dearga’s Hostel’ and ‘The Chase of Lough Leane’ that do mention specific places in the Dublin Uplands with a particular emphasis on the valley of Glenasmole (1).
The Destruction of Da Dearga’s Hostel
The Destruction of Da Dearga’s Hostel forms part of the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology. It tells the story of the birth, life, and death of Conaire Mór, a legendary High King of Ireland, who is killed at Da Derga’s hostel by his enemies when he breaks his geasa. There is a pervasive sense of doom throughout the tale, as Conaire Mór is forced to break each of his geasa or taboos, thus making his downfall inevitable, leading to a bloody fight and murder at Da Dearga’s Hostel.
‘The story of the attack on Bruiden Da Derga and the death of Conaire Mór is one of the most noted of the ancient Irish sagas. The enemies at whose hands Conaire meets his death are led by Aingcél or Ingcél and his two brothers, grandsons of Conmac. In the best known versions of the story, these men and their band, after various adventures, having been driven out of Ireland, land on Trácht Fuirbthen, also named Trácht Muirbthen, identified by J.H. Lloyd as the Irish name of Merrion Strand. They make straight for Bruiden Da Derga, in the valley of the Dodder, and look down at the Bruiden from a hill, which must be that now called Montpelier Hill…’ (2).
‘I lay down in the arched room of that remarkable building. I felt confident of the protection of the Almighty that the name of enchantment and the idle stories that were told of the place had but a slight hold of my mind'
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