Walks: Hellfire Club, Co Dublin

On Mount Pelier in the Dublin mountains, the Hellfire Club is a prominent landmark although trees obscure some views. From the carpark off the R 115 at Kilakee, follow the forest road winding its way to the summit. For shorter steeper routes, walk on the trails through the woods. Take care during Coillte forestry operations. Here and in nearby Massey woods there is a wide variety of trees: Sitka spruce, noble fir, Japanese larch, Douglas fir, sycamore, Spanish chestnut and Lawson cypress. Watch for heather, bilberry and furze, deer, squirrel and foxes.

Speaker Conolly of the Irish Parliament built a summer lodge on the skyline. 'Wild young gentlemen' from the city engaged in doubtful activities. Because of its satanic reputation Dubliners called the place the Hellfire Club. Near the partly restored ruin, earth mounds and granite stones are relics of a passage grave. A plaque remembers David Coyle, a local walker.

Generations of Dubliners have enjoyed the extensive views of Dublin Bay from Killiney to Lambay. The greenery of Tibradden and Cruagh contrasts with urban sprawl. Cars stream on the M50 but the motorway and suburbs are invisible to me. I am a boy again, relishing a picnic on my first hike from the Rathfarnham bus to the Hellfire Club.


?More On Foot in Dublin & Wicklow, C. Moriarity, 1989. Map: OS Discovery sheet 50. Access: From the M50, exit 12 by Firhouse to Kilakee. Pictured: Tony Quinn (right) at a boys' picnic at the Hellfire Club