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    Halloween in Ireland

    Born in ancient Celtic times as the festival of Samhain, learn more about the Irish origins of Halloween.

    The Irish Origins of Halloween

    pumpkin Ireland Halloween

    Leaving seasonal offerings at Neolithic sites is common practice in Ireland. This one was left at Lough Crew’s ancient cairns.

    The spooky October season has arrived. Feel the cool and crisp air on your face, marvel at the trees bursting into autumnal reds, golds and oranges, listen to the leaves crunching underfoot, smell the air is filled with chimney smoke, and taste the autumn veggie harvest back on the menu.

    All of this means one very important thing – Halloween in Ireland is just around the corner.

    But where does this spooky holiday come from? Just what exactly are the origins of Halloween? Today this holiday is wildly popular – costumed children, carved pumpkins, scary stories, tasty treats and more.

    But did you know that the festival of Halloween actually originated in Ireland? More than 2,000 years old, Halloween began life as a pagan festival called Samhain (pronounced saw-when), with traditions that have changed surprisingly little from ancient times to our modern interpretations.

    Read more about Halloween’s origins as the Celtic festival of Samhain.

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    Spooky Ireland

    Sunset graveyard Halloween Ireland

    Welcome to the spooky season. Autumn is here, and that means it’s time for a few scary stories. From ghosts and witches to haunted houses, murderous vampires and tragic tales, Ireland has it all. In fact, Ireland is the perfect place for scary tales from its remote hills and desolate bogs to the island’s tragic past, abandoned villages, rich folklore and its tradition for oral storytelling not to forget the island’s affinity for the supernatural, all passed down through the generations.

    Autumn is the season for scary stories. Learn more about Ireland’s spooky spots and haunting tales below. 

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    Bram Stoker's Ireland

    Dracula is very much the vampire tale. Perhaps not the first of its kind, Dracula kickstarted the vampire sub-genre and played a significant role in gothic horror. Bram Stoker was born and raised in Ireland, and many of his inspirations likely came from the Emerald Isle.

    In fact, though Stoker was well-travelled, he never stepped foot in Eastern Europe and relied on stories told to him by a Hungarian writer he knew. But he did spend a lot of time researching history and folklore in Dublin’s magnificent Marsh Library. A little-known story from Irish folklore about a cruel, undead ruler from Northern Ireland may have caught his eye… combined with tales from the east relayed to him by his Hungarian friend, and voila, Dracula was born.

    Read more about Bram Stoker, Dracula and his Irish inspirations here.

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    Food & Drink: Halloween Treats

    Bread Irish Halloween treats

    Trick or treat! Those are that most people associate with Halloween these days. And for the most part, homeowners comply with a treat, rather than a trick.

    Even if your trick-or-treating days are over, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t indulge in a treat on Halloween. After all, it’s a holiday, right? Here are some of our favourite Halloween-y dishes and treats from Ireland, the birthplace of Samhain and Halloween.

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    Witches of Ireland: The Hag of Beara

    Hag of Beara house Neolithic tomb

    Sligo folklore calls this Neolithic tomb in the Dartry Mountains “The Hag of Beara’s House.”

    Ireland’s most infamous witch is the Cailleach or Hag of Beara. Born on November 1st during the ancient festival of Samhain, the Hag of Beara is the ‘witch of winter.’

    The Cailleach is responsible for the bringing of winter, starting out as an “old crone” who grows younger and more powerful from Halloween onwards through the winter, until the arrival of Bealtaine (May 1st) when she becomes a youthful maidan. This of course means that her spell is over, winter is gone and summer is here.

    Learn more about Irish folklore’s witchy character of the Hag of Beara in our folklore series. 

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    Why Visit Ireland in Autumn?

    Halloween pumpkin Ireland

    Not sure which season to visit Ireland? Perhaps autumn might be just the right time for you.

    Read our guide as to why you might prefer to visit Ireland during autumn. After all, it’s the spooky season, and this is where Halloween’s origins were forged. It’s also a very dramatic time of year, most other tourists have gone home, and you’ll likely get your pick of Ireland’s grand hotels.

    Keep reading to learn more about visiting Ireland in autumn. 

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    Our holidays reviewed
    in your own words

    We had a great 6-day, self-guided, ride around the Sligo, Ireland. The bikes were topnotch and routes on Garmin made it easy to find our way around to the next destination. We found Wilderness Ireland to be very well run and attentive to our needs and made our trip very enjoyable.

    Rohinton Irani
    Self Guided Cycling - The Wilds of Sligo
    Reviewed on 20/09/2021

    Rated 4.93 out of 5 based on 1,863 reviews

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