For centuries the fear of evil spirits and Satan himself have seen protection rituals by both Pagan and Christian alike in Ireland. All the holy safeguards in the world however couldn’t stop Lucifer leaving his mark on Irish soil. 6 locations, 6 counties, 6 tales of the Devil. ANN O’REGAN takes us on his trail in 666 words.
Lough Derg, Pettigo, County Donegal
Everyone has a mother, even the Devil. His mum was Caorthannach, the Celtic Fire Spitter. Born in the molten lakes of the centre of the Earth, she spawned pure evil in the form of Satan and brought terror to Ireland before the arrival of Saint Patrick. After he had expelled evil, Saint Patrick chased the Caorthannach back to her Hell portal. To slow him, she spat fire and poison into the wells, however, Saint Patrick battled on, thirsty. At the portal they fought and Saint Patrick was swallowed whole by the mother of the Devil. He burst out through her stomach and the dark blood gushed out, creating Lough Derg. He spoke one word and she was banished to the Hell from which she came.
Loftus Hall, Hook Peninsula, County Wexford
Known as Ireland’s most haunted house, the Devil was said to have visited the Tottenham family in 1766 while they were staying at the Loftus family home. A stranger took refuge at the foreboding building from a sudden Tempest and began an affair with the daughter, Anne Tottenham. One night during a card game a card fell and when Anne retrieved it she noticed her suitor had cloven hooves for feet. Discovered, the Dark Lord shot up and out through a hole in the ceiling. Next year marks the 666th anniversary of the founding of Loftus Hall.
Hellfire Club, Montpelier Hill, Dublin
An identical tale of a visitor with cloven hooves playing cards exists, however this was at the notorious Hellfire Club in Dublin. Lucifer would be deemed more welcome here however, as the black arts, murder, sacrifice and debauchery were just some of the member pastimes. It should also be noted that the Loftus family owned land on Montpelier Hill and more than one member made a pact with the Devil.
Devil’s Glen, Ashford, County Wicklow
Devil’s Glen Waterfall is etched out of the rock and forms part of the River Varty. Is so named because a roar thunders through the valley and the sound is said to be the cry of the Devil, calling out for sinners to come forward. Strangely, from the Devil’s Glen you can see the Tottenham Estate, home to the visitors at Loftus Hall when Lucifer left his mark.
Devil’s Bit Mountain and The Rock of Cashel, Cashel, County Tipperary
The mountain is known as Devil’s Bit due to the unusually shaped gap in the rock. It is believed that the gap is due to Satan taking a bite out of the mountain top. He broke his tooth and it fell from his mouth, landing to form the Rock of Cashel. The Rock is said to be the where the veil between worlds is at its thinnest and one of Ireland’s most important books, The Book of Dimma was alleged to have been discovered in a cave on Devil’s Bit and currently resides at Trinity College, Dublin.
Ballinagarde House, Ballyneety, County Limerick
The large mansion was built in 1774 for one of Cromwell’s men, Edward Croker. One night as Edward was returning home in his carriage he noticed a stranger riding towards him. Croker invited the gentleman out of the elements and into his home where the two dined and got very drunk indeed. When a butler removed the shoes of the visitor he noticed cloven hooves where his toes should be. From then the descendants of Edward Croker failed at every venture until all was lost and the Croker family home became an abandoned shell. Now a dark figure is seen riding through the grounds, the devil on horseback leaving hoof marks in the ground.