The Hellfire Club

Nearing the turn of the 18th century, Askeaton in County Limerick was the home to a particular brand of hedonistic decadence and religious syncretism – that of the Hellfire Club. Established in the mid-1700s by the Duke of Wharton, also known as the ‘Hellfire Duke’, the now dilapidated halls of the Hellfire Club chronicle an Irish history of hermetically sealed Dionysian decadence that is never far from the surface of Askeaton’s local narrative. From the small island located in the middle of Askeaton town, the Hellfire ruin stands in its own mute eloquence. To the informed observer, its stone walls contain a unique history with a dynamic subtext of intrigue and speculation that gathers on the lives of rebellious aristocrats that once animated this vandalous sanctorum.

Curated by Michele Horrigan, the individual works of five artists were commissioned and strategically sited in different parts of Askeaton town. Apart from the exhibition’s thematic concern with mining the obscurities of this 18th century history, one of the other functions of an exhibition such as The Hellfire Club, is to make its audience think about the possibilities for contemporary art as it reaches into essentially new peripheral rural context. It is only when you find yourself wandering around the small rural town of Askeaton looking for works of contemporary art, can you actually begin to reflect on this possibility.

The publication is produced to accompany the exhibition.

Exhibition, Irish Culture, Narrative
Askeaton Contemporary Arts
Original Language

Lawson Park Electronic Library is a Guestroom project for Grizedale Arts, designed and built by Dorian Moore