Category Archives: Halloween

6 Places to Visit in Ireland at Halloween

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Ireland is famous for Halloween and some ghostly places to visit since its origins date back to the ancient Celtic Festival of Samhain. The origins of Samhain are from Celtic pagan roots and is a festival in Gaelic and its meaning is the end of the harvest season and the beginning of Winter. This festival is traditionally celebrated from October 31st to November 1st.  In this month’s blog are some recommended places to visit in Ireland at Halloween to that will not disappoint.

6 Places to Visit in Ireland at Halloween

Derry Halloween Festival 

Around the globe places vie as to where is the best place to celebrate Holloween. Think of Transylvania, home of Dracula or Salem Massachusetts for its heritage of witches. Derry can be regarded as one of the best destinations when it comes to celebrating Halloween, the city is truly one of the most memorable places to visit during Halloween season.  The city of Derry packs a punch when it comes to Halloween and in 2015 USA Today named Derry as the “best Halloween destination in the world”. Derry as a city is full of creativity and puts on a spectacular show with creative costumes. This history of great costumes comes from the people of the city with its heritage of shirt factories.  The festival usually runs annually from the 26th of October to the 3rd of November and there is something for everyone and with a mix of music and harvest markets for foodies.

Derry Halloween Festival

Westport House Halloween Festival

Westport House located on the West of Ireland in Co. Mayo which promises to scare you during Halloween season. This festival is normally happening on the 27th to the 31st of October annually. It is a perfect treat for individuals or all the family and has something for everyone to enjoy. During the festival for Halloween, the Estate House is transformed into a spooky old mansion and visit the dark dungeons where Pirate Queen  Grace O’ Malley locked up her prisoners. There is lots more to this Halloween festival and worth a visit.

Westport House & Gardens - Things to do in Mayo
Westport House & Gardens

Spirit of Meath Halloween Festival

This festival happens all around Meath County in the historic Boyne Valley from 6th of October up until 4th of November annually. It is one of Ireland’s biggest Halloween festivals and a short drive from Dublin city centre. The festival goes from Haunted Hills to Eerie Graveyards, Tour of Shadow to friendly witches to spells and terrifying Terror Houses.  You can visit during the day and be spooked at night. The Spirit of Meath Festival makes for an electrifying display of Halloween horrors.

Halloween at Spirit of Meath Halloween Festival at Newgrange

Bram Stoker Festival

This festival offers 4 days of adventure usually between 26th – 29th of October and has something for everyone with its gothic programme of events in Dublin city. There are some free and some ticketed events for families and adults. This a great way to experience Halloween in Dublin’s capital city.  Bram Stroker was the creator of Dracula’s and worked in Dublin Castle as a clerk. This Halloween festival celebrates the thrill of Halloween and the mysterious after dark and looks into the legacy of Ireland’s most valued authors.

Bram Stoker Festival

The Crumlin Road Gaol – Belfast

This is a great place to enjoy the Halloween fever on the island of Ireland. The  Crumlin Road Gaol offers the ultimate Halloween ghostly experience from its history from when it opened in 1846 and closed in 1996. For over 150 years it was a fully operational prison and has lots of eerie stories that you will learn about. A great way to enjoy this is to take a tour and learn about all aspects of the Gaol from the tunnels linking the courthouse on one side of Crumlin Road to the hospital, graveyard to the hanging cell and Governor’s office. This prison has had over 25,000 prisoners, with 17 men executed and has witnessed deaths, marriages, births and have and has been the scene of escapes, hunger strikes and riots.

The Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast

Kilmainham Gaol – Dublin

Halloween and prisons become very popular as places to visit as they are famously haunted buildings and Kilmainham Gaol is not different.  Ghostly tales surround the prison and it has been said that lights have mysteriously been turning on and off in the prison chapel.  The prison is a symbol of Ireland’s past from militant and nationalism from the rebellion in 1798 to the Irish Civil War of 1922 -23. The leaders in these rebellion movements were detained in Kilmainham and sometimes executed. Opened in 1796 as the County Gaol for Dublin and it closed its door in 1924. This is truly a great place to visit in Ireland as a Halloween attraction or any time of the year and experience some of Ireland history and listen to the ghosts of the past.

Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin

Get in Touch-

The best way to learn about Halloween in Ireland is to visit! Contact us today for a  free quotation including some or all of these locations today. We can tailor your itinerary on any of our Self Drive or Chauffeured tours.

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Halloween in Ireland

Halloween in Ireland originated in the ancient Celtic world as a pagan festival known as Samhain and has since become a day that is celebrated worldwide.

Halloween in Ireland is still a significant holiday especially due to the fact that the last Monday in October is designated as a public holiday. Below we look at some of the popular Halloween traditions in Ireland from both past and modern times.

Barmbrack        

Barmbrack - Halloween in Ireland
Barmbrack

Barmbrack is a traditional Irish Halloween custom where yeasted sweet bread is prepared with sultanas and raisins. Barmbrack contained various items that had been baked into the brack and these carried predictions for the future year. Finding a pea in your piece of barmbrack meant you would never marry, a stick predicted that you would have an unhappy marriage (a stick to beat your partner with!), a piece of cloth often referred to as a ‘rag’ meant you would be poor, a small coin for wealth and a ring meant you would be married before the next Halloween. Even today, no Halloween in Ireland is complete without having a few slices of Barmbrack!

Colcannon

Colcannon - Halloween in Ireland
Colcannon

Next on our list is Colcannon, a traditional Irish potato and cabbage dish that is often eaten at Haloween in Ireland.  The dish gets its name from the Irish word cal ceannan, which when translated means white headed cabbage. The dish usually includes kale, green cabbage, bacon and floury mashed potatoes. Similar to the barmbrack, items were placed into the Colcannon which were used to give predictions for the coming year.

Samhain Bonfire

The Halloween bonfire which we have come accustomed to in modern day celebrations was in fact the centre of the Samhain festival. Legend goes that each village would have a bonfire where people would sacrifice crops and animals in return for protection for themselves for the coming winter. Before the main bonfire could be lit all fires around the village had to be quenched. Only after the main bonfire had been extinguished could the villager’s then re light their own fires.

 Jack O Lantern

Jack O Lantern - Halloween in Ireland
Jack O Lantern

An ancient Samhain tradition that can still be seen during Halloween today is the Jack O Lantern. Folklore has it that hundreds of years ago an Irishman called Jack conned the Devil into buying him a drink for exchanging his soul. However when Jack finished the drink he proceeded to cover himself in crosses meaning the devil was unable to get his soul. When Jack died he was refused entry to heaven for his behaviour. He then encountered the devil who refused him entry to hell but grudgingly giving him an ember so he could see as his walked throughout the night. Every Halloween since, people carved out turnips and placed a candle in them to ward off the wandering Jack. It was from this that the Jack O’Lantern came into existence. Although in Ireland we no longer carve out turnips it is thought that this is where the practice of carving pumpkins originally came from.

Haunted Houses

Loftus Hall - Halloween in Ireland
Loftus Hall

One of the more modern Halloween traditions in Ireland is visiting haunted houses & castles over the Halloween period. Events are held around Ireland where people gather in supposedly haunted houses & castles in the hope of encountering some spirits! Some of the most famous spooky attractions around Ireland where these events take place include Loftus Hall, Charleville Castle and Charles Fort, Kinsale.

Read more about some of Ireland’s most spooky attractions here

Get in Touch-

If you are interested in experiencing Halloween in Ireland contact us today for a competitive quotation. One of our experienced travel advisors will be happy to answer any queries that you may have.

USA & Canada 1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone 0800 096 9438

International +353 69 77686

www.irishtourism.com

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8 Irish Ghosts to Visit This Halloween!

Irish folklore and stories were describing ghosts, monsters and banshees long before they were made into blockbuster films. It is not surprising therefore that we have our fair share of haunted castles in Ireland as well as, some eerie and frightening locations to visit! Here is a list of 8 Irish ghosts that you just might bump into on your travels here in Ireland:

Anne Tottenham at Loftus Hall

Loftus Hall is full of mystery and with lots of mystique surrounding the building. It is very much a favourite place to visit during the Halloween season. Loftus Hall is a mansion house on the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford which is said to be haunted the ghost of young Anne Tottenham. The story goes that Anne had an encounter with the Devil, fell ill and was confined to her room for the rest of her life. Throughout the years there have been several reported sightings of her ghost. It is widely regarded as Ireland’s most haunted house with various theories of ghosts appearing over the past number of years. Loftus Hall opened its door in 2012 after 30 years closed. Aidan Quigley the owner now gives guided tours that will spook the best and are not for the faint hearted but certainly worth the visit during the Halloween season.

7 Ghosts to visit in Ireland -Loftus hall 1
Loftus Hall

Lady Maud Plunkett, Her Husband & Jester Puck at Malahide Castle

Malahide Castle is just outside Dublin City, built in 1185 by King Henry the II for the Talbot family, the castle is said to have five ghosts including that of Maud Plunkett and her husband Lord Chief Justice. The castle jester, Puck who is said to have been murdered by one of the Talbot family, on occasion also makes an appearance!

7 Ghosts to visit in Ireland -Malahide Castle
Malahide Castle

Lady Margaret Butler at Kilkenny Castle 

Kilkenny Castle situated in the heart of the medieval Kilkenny city. The castle has been owned by the Butler family for hundreds of years. It is well known to have a banshee soul with tales of a ghostly woman wandering through the castle, gardens while lost and lonely. Some believe that this is the spirit of Lady Margaret Butler known as the “white lady”. She was born in the castle and the grandmother of Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VII of England.

Kilkenny Castle

The White Lady of Charles Fort, Kinsale

About two miles outside the town of Kinsale lies Charles Fort, an old army barracks and reported home to ‘The White Lady’. The story goes that this unfortunate lady married a soldier of the barracks who was shot on the day of their wedding. Overcome with grief, she jumped to her death, still wearing her white wedding dress. Her lost soul has been spotted wandering the grounds, wedding dress and all.

Red Mary at Leamanach Castle

7 Ghosts to visit in Ireland -Leamaneh_Castle_Ireland_12283094446_o 1
Leamaneh Castle, By Tony Webster (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Leamaneh Castle is a ruined castle located in Kilnaboy in the Burren Region of Country Clare. It is said that the ghost of Máire Rúa (Red Mary) roams the grounds.  According to local legend, Red Mary wed 25 men, killing each one in turn. Eventually, after murdering her final husband she was captured and sealed into a hollow tree. The frightening apparition of her red-haired ghost is said to be still seen at Leamaneh today.

Little Harriet at Charleville Castle

7 Ghosts to visit in Ireland - Charleville_Castle,_Tullamore,_Co_Offaly_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1357659 1
Charleville Castle by Sarah Gallagher [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Charleville Castle is a Gothic-style castle located in County Offaly. The castle is believed to be occupied by a little ghost girl named Harriet who died tragically in the castle in 1861. Her eerie childlike laughing and screams have been reported by many people throughout the years. Others are sure that they have seen the image of a golden aired little girl in a blue and white dress.

The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit! Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –

USA & Canada1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone0800 096 9438

International+353 69 77686

http://www.irishtourism.com/

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Happy Halloween!

By Orla Spencer

Halloween - Samhain
Halloween – Samhain

A lot of people in Ireland believe that Halloween came from the pagan festival of Samhain which was celebrated in Ireland and other Celtic countries. Samhain was the time when the veil between the land of the living and the dead was at its thinnest, allowing the spirits and the dead to come into our world. To celebrate Samhain, Celtic Druids built huge bonfires, people gathered harvest foods and sacrificed animals.

We are glad things have changed a bit!

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