The origin of Halloween in Ireland

When it's getting darker and faster outside, a cold wind is blowing up the colorful leaves and pumpkins are decorating the house entrances, then Halloween is not far away. Halloween was already a sensation for me in my childhood. However, it was hardly celebrated at all in Germany at the time. And the little bit of information I knew about Halloween is mostly from the US. But where does Halloween actually come from? And how is Halloween celebrated outside of the US? I've been asking myself these questions for a long time and my search for answers led me to the Emerald Isle - to the historic east of Ireland.

press trip

The Story of Halloween: Halloween Exhibition at Millmount Museum, Drogheda


Halloween in Ireland or rather Samhain - In the footsteps of the Celts

It is believed that Halloween goes back to a tradition of the ancient Celts. The Celts lived in Ireland, Scotland and some other parts of Europe many centuries ago. At that time they celebrated a kind of festival of the dead called "Samhain" (pronounced Sow-Win), which symbolically heralded the end of summer. According to the Celtic calendar, this time is also the official start of winter. Incidentally, the Celtic people only distinguished between the two seasons of summer and winter. Winter ushered in the new year. That's why Samhain is also called the Celtic New Year designated. Although Halloween in Ireland has borrowed a lot from American customs these days, the Celtic roots are still there.

Halloween in Ireland
Bru na Bóinne, home to the largest collection of megalithic works of art in Western Europe

Halloween in Ireland - When two worlds collide

Samhain, it is the festival of the dead, of beings from the underworld and of life yet to be born. The earth is now allowed to rest and hibernate to prepare for a new life in spring. The veil between the world of the living and the afterlife should dissolve during this time. Therefore, life and death are very close together on Samhain.

And so that death spares the living, the ritual arose to dress up as scarily as possible and thus deceive death. Death was supposed to think that the disguised people had already died and that he didn't need to fetch them anymore. At the same time, the dead are commemorated and their blessings are requested. Numerous myths and legends are entwined around the Celts and their culture. So far I've already figured out how to nowadays Spa & wellness the Celtic way enjoy, but to better understand these legendary people I traveled to the Boyne Valley.

Boyne Valley - The cradle of Europe?

In the North East of Ireland, just a short drive from Dublin Airport, lies the historic Boyne Valley. This sacred and mythical stretch of land runs through historic counties of Meath and Louth. Boyne Valley is great for a road trip by car, but also offers plenty of hiking and biking opportunities. Long overshadowed by Dublin, County Meath is thought to be the cradle of Ireland, if not the cradle of Europe. Because in the Boyne Valley is located Bru na Boinne, one of the most mysterious prehistoric sites in Europe.

Halloween in Ireland
Bru na Boinne

Older than the Pyramids – Brú na Bóinne

Halloween in Ireland
Ancient light show: Newgrange phenomenon

Between 3500 and 2500 B.C. A collection of prehistoric cult sites dating back to around 1993 BC are characterized by the three large passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. The facilities have officially been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 5000. With a proud age of over 21 years, these tombs are even older than the pyramids in Egypt! What must you have seen? In Irish mythology, Bru na Bóinne is a legendary elf hill. The hills remind me a bit of the Teletubby Hills though. I hope the elves have mercy on me! Indeed, while walking in this historical place, I felt like I was in another world. In particular, I find the central burial chamber of Newgrange fascinating. Inside the chamber, the light can be observed slowly moving down the narrow corridor, illuminating the chamber from within. The Path of Light symbolizes the course of the sun on the day of the winter solstice, which occurs on December XNUMXst.

Residence of fairies and aliens

To this day nobody knows exactly why Newgrange was built. And it seems to remain a secret. The megalithic monuments are considered Sídh in Irish mythology, so-called fairy hills. The word Sídh means "star" and it is said that a people from the stars built the monuments before they were taken over by Celtic immigrants. In any case, it is an overwhelming feeling to still be able to marvel at these mysterious monuments today. Is this where the roots of Halloween in Ireland lie?

Create your own gin: gin tasting at the Listoke Distellery & Gin School

It was no less mysterious when visiting the Listoke Distellery & Gin School to. Here my tour group and I were initiated into the secrets and ingredients that make a good gin. But the best is yet to come: we were even allowed to create our own gin. We had an impressive collection of selected herbs and spices at our disposal. A platter of incredibly delicious antipasti and various spreads was then served with the gin tasting. At the Listoke Distellery & Gin School it is a family-run company. The gin tasting event was hosted by mother and daughter that evening. As participants, we quickly noticed how much expertise and passion both bring to the table. The joy with which they explain the art of a good gin quickly spread to the group. Full of joy we went on to our hotel in Drogheda.

Halloween in Ireland
Listoke Distellery & Gin School

Traveling back in time in Drogheda Town

The port city Drogheda on the Boyne River is characterized by historic buildings such as the Millmount Fort or the 13th-century St. Laurence Gate. That Scholars Townhouse Hotel Fits perfectly into this historic cityscape and is ideally located for exploring the Boyne Valley. The former monastery from the 19th century is now a romantic and family-run hotel with a truly exceptional interior design and a fantastic restaurant. As a guest you can feel the history in the walls and at the same time you can enjoy a warm and excellent service.

Tip: Be sure to try the excellent breakfast in the fireplace room!

Halloween in Ireland with a Game of Thrones feeling on the Boyne Boats Tour

Halloween with a difference: Anyone who would like to immerse themselves in the world of Game of Thrones, but would like to do without nasty intrigues and megalomaniac rulers, can experience the Game of Thrones feeling on a very special boat tour experience. With its legends, wars and mythologies, the more than 5000-year-old history in the Boyne Valley is at least as exciting as the hit series. And the roots of the unique architecture of the Kerry Namhoag boats lie in ancient Irish civilisation.

Boyne Boats - Nice day trip destination, also suitable for families

The boats are still made by hand and today not only inspire historians and tourists, but also international film productions. Her unusual, artistic design recently brought her into the series hit "Game of Thrones". Almost as an aside, you can learn about the moving history of Boyne Valley while paddling together. Of the drastic famines, the famous Battle of the Boyne but also of the enchanting legends and fairy tales that are entwined around the valley.

The exceptional boat tour by Ross Kenny, the founder of Boyne Boats. And this man has a wonderful talent: Ross knows how to bring history back to life. This cinematic boat trip is definitely a great experience and a beautiful destination for young and old! If you want to delve even deeper into the history of the Battle of the Boyne, you can Battle of the Boyne Center visit.

Halloween in Ireland
Ready for film: Boyne Boats Tour

Celebrate Halloween in Ireland at the Púca Festival – Spooky

With a rabbit mask in front of my face, I waited together with hundreds of people in Trim, some of whom were masked and disguised, for the arrival of a very special creature. Equipped with bright lanterns, we lined the path when the rhythmic sounds could already be heard from afar. And suddenly he appeared, together with his horrifying followers from another world. Close behind him we followed his spooky pageant, mingling with other ghosts and demons on our way to the backdrop of the famous Trim Castle.

Celebrate the Darkness: Púca comes to life

If you're always having a lot of mishaps on Halloween, then it might actually be Puca lie, a cheeky but relatively harmless spirit. The spirit or goblin from Irish mythology is often associated with the Samhain festival. On Halloween, Púca comes to life and is supposed to mess up the fates of the people who meet him. Above all, however, the spirit invites you to celebrate Halloween or Samhain together from October 31st to November 02nd.

Halloween in Ireland
Trim Castle during the Púca Festival

Halloween in Ireland: Irish Halloween tradition in a new light

Halloween in Ireland
Terrific: Halloween dinner at the Lawrence Hotel

And where better to understand and celebrate Samhain than the birthplace of Halloween? The new Púca Halloween celebrations will take place in 3 cities across the east of Ireland - Athboy, Trim and Drogheda. It's a colorful mixture of Halloween, carnival and festival of lights. Despite the eerie disguise, the atmosphere is cheerful and exuberant. The focus is not on frightening one another. It's much more about being together, even in the dark times of winter. And about reviving the old sagas and stories together. As part of the festival, the Trim Castle was artistically illuminated in the evening and shows, among other things, scenes from Irish mythology, such as the story of Salmon of Wisdom. It was a great feeling to be part of this spooky, incredibly creative procession and to write new stories with the reimagined Púca Festival.

The Lawrence Hotel – New Year's feeling at the Halloween dinner

After the Púca Festival we were awaited in the Lawrence Hotel a dinner of a special kind. The tastefully furnished, romantic boutique hotel in Athboy is a real jewel, not only because of the excellent location, but also because of the warmth and attention to detail. The multi-course, excellent dinner was accompanied by live music, singing and a theatrical performance that reminded me a bit of a crime thriller dinner. "3,2,1..." Inside I was just waiting for the countdown to start. This evening actually felt like New Year's Eve, New Year's Day and Halloween at the same time. And that's exactly how I would like to celebrate Halloween every year.

Halloween in Ireland at Trim Castle - Largest Norman Castle in Europe

After doing that Trim Castle I was able to admire it from afar the evening before, I was happy to be able to visit the castle from the inside during a guided tour during the day. The impressive remains of Europe's largest Norman fortress rise majestically from the lush green of the Boyne Valley. Once built by the English conquerors as a real bulwark against the Irish, Trim Castle is now a popular attraction and historic landmark in the east of Ireland. The fortifications were built by Hugh de Lacy in 1172 for strategic reasons. Over the centuries the castle has seen many owners come and go before it was finally taken over by the Irish state in 1993 and opened to the public in 2000 .

Halloween in Ireland
And suddenly I felt very small

Famous film set: Curtain up for Braveheart

"Your heart is free, have the courage to follow it."
Malcolm Wallace

Incidentally, the Trim Castle served as a film set in the blockbuster "braveheart" with Mel Gibson. Around the castle, the center of the city of York was recreated for the film. Tip: In the summer Braveheart is still performed here occasionally - projected onto the ancient walls of Trim Castle. Would you like to know what other films have been shot in Ireland? Then please have a look here .

Halloween in Ireland
Ruins on the outside of the castle

Maperath Farm - Our little farm

How it feels to live and work on a farm can rarely be experienced as genuinely and authentically as on the Maperath Farm in Meath. The farm is run by Olivia Duff and her husband Eoin Sharkey. Olivia and Eoin's vision is to show people where their food comes from and how conscious and respectful farming can still be done today. Together with their three daughters, they are living their dream on Maperath Farm. And I wish all children in this world such a childhood: In rubber boots, surrounded by animals, nature and wide open country. Eoin also runs a mobile farm for events, schools and kindergartens to give children an understanding of nature and agriculture.

Halloween in Ireland
What does everyday life on a farm actually look like? You can get a glimpse at Maperath Farm in Kells

"Bread Pitt" - Bake bread and make butter yourself

Together with my tour group I had the pleasure to be part of the traditional bread baking and to bake what is probably the best bread I have ever tasted. The flour was used by the Marty Mill, one of the few surviving watermills in Ireland. Incidentally, our bread not only looked so fantastic that I simply had to name it “Bread Pitt”, but also tasted at least as good. The bread was fresh, homemade butter, jam, coffee and tea. It's the simple things in life that make you happy. Especially when they taste so delicious!

Halloween in Ireland

Slane Castle – History & rock'n' Roll

Let's now come to a place that has particularly fascinated me throughout my entire trip. A place where U2 recorded one of their most successful albums of all time. A castle where music greats like The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Guns N' Roses, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, David Bowie, Queen, Coldplay, REM and many more have performed. We're talking about Slane Castle, the castle in a picturesque hilltop position overlooking the River Boyne. The neo-Gothic castle from 1785 attracts visitors from all over the world with its remarkable, exciting architecture and history. Music fans in particular flock to the annual music festival, which takes place on the property's extensive grounds.

And who would have thought in 1984 that 7 years after U2 recorded the album "The Unforgettable Fire", there would actually be a fire in the castle. Although the devastating fire destroyed much of the castle at the time, that event didn't stop Lord Henry Mount Charles from rebuilding the castle and continuing to make music history. Incidentally, the rooms in which stars such as U2 and Robbie Williams have stayed can be rented for a wedding. So if you are still looking for an extraordinary wedding location, you might find it in Slane Castle.

Halloween in Ireland
Slane Castle: Not only worth a visit on Halloween

Celebrating Halloween in Ireland at Slane Castle at the Halloween Banquet Feast of The Spirits

This was also found in this magical property Slane Castle Halloween Banquet Feast of The Spirits takes place, a Halloween event as part of the Púca Festival. I'll admit it: Celebrating Halloween in a historic castle in Ireland is truly an experience to remember. In particular, the theatrical Púca staging in the middle of the King George IV Ballroom was simply terrific. After an unbelievably delicious 3-course menu, one or the other dancing leg was swung.

Irish Whiskey in the Slane Distillery - A symbiosis of history and modernity

The castle grounds are also located Slane Distillery, a modern whiskey distillery that opened in 2017. The on-site tour followed by a whiskey tasting is really recommended. Not only does the extraordinary historical location contribute to this, but also the highly modern facility, which is well worth seeing. As part of the idea of ​​building their own distillery on the grounds of Trim Castle, the 250-year-old stables were restored with great attention to detail and an in-house whiskey was created.

Halloween in Ireland: A Journey through Ireland's Ancient East
Halloween in Ireland: A Journey through Ireland's Ancient East

EPIC Museum in Dublin – The Irish Emigration Museum

I got this on the last day of my Ireland trip EPIC Museum in Dublin visited. The interactive museum opened in 2016 and was named "Europe's Leading Tourist Attraction" at this year's Worlds Travel Awards. This museum is deeply devoted to the topic of Irish emigration. Here, however, not only the dry numbers, facts and famous names are in the foreground, but above all the experience of feeling Irish history and making it tangible. At 20 interactive stations, visitors learn about the reasons and complex connections for emigration. There are also many rooms dedicated to Irish culture, literature, art and music. But film fans will also get their money's worth in the EPIC Museum.

Halloween in Ireland: A Journey through Ireland's Ancient East
EPIC Museum in Dublin

The map is in the form of a green passport that can be stamped in each room. In my opinion, this is a particularly nice souvenir and makes the visit interesting for children too? High-quality audio guides in different languages ​​are offered, as well as a free app. The museum definitely leaves a lasting impression and was a nice culmination of my trip. In any case, I recommend bringing enough time with you to immerse yourself in the moving emigrant stories.

Halloween in Ireland: A Journey through Ireland's Ancient East
We all come from somewhere
Halloween in Ireland: A Journey through Ireland's Ancient East
EPIC Museum: passage between the continents

Hotels

Scholars Townhouse Hotel,
King St, Downtown Drogheda,
Drogheda, Co Louth, A92 ED71, Ireland
https://www.scholarshotel.com/

The former monastery from the 19th century is now a romantic and family-run hotel with exceptional interior design and a fantastic restaurant.

Attractions: Mellifont Abbey, St Peter's Church

The Lawrence Hotel
Main St, Town Parks,
Athboy, Co Meath, C15 N6YD, Ireland
http://thelawrence.ie/

The tastefully furnished, romantic boutique hotel in Athboy is a real jewel, not only because of the excellent location, but also because of the warmth and attention to detail.

Attractions: hill of ward, Ballinlough Castle

Headfort Arms Hotel
Headfort Pl, Town Parks,
Kells, Co Meath, Ireland
https://www.headfortarms.ie/

Beautiful family run hotel in an ideal Meath location with a cozy and elegant restaurant and spa.

Attractions: St Colmcille's House, Hill of Ward

Knightsbrook Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort
dublin road,
Trim, co. meat
https://www.knightsbrook.com/index.html

Large chic hotel just 40 minutes from Dublin in a picturesque rural location.

Attractions: Trim Castle, Hill of Tara, Boyne Valley Tours

Restaurants

The Monasterboice Inn
Drogheda Rd, Silloge,
Drogheda, Co Louth, Ireland
https://monasterboice-inn.ie

Beautiful atmosphere, very large portions and friendly service. Are there enough parking spaces?

Vanilla Pod Restaurant
Headfort Pl, Town Parks,
Kells, Co Meath, Ireland
https://www.headfortarms.ie/

First class food, romantic ambience and courteous service.

Brown's Bar
slane castle,
Slane, Co Meath,
ireland
https://www.slanecastle.ie/food-drink/bar/

Chic, modern yet cozy restaurant in Slane Castle. Perfect for a lunch after visiting the castle.

Rococo restaurant
dublin road,
Trim, co. meat
https://www.knightsbrook.com/index.html

Excellent Irish and international cuisine. The desserts are a true taste explosion!

Flight connections: Aer Lingus, Eurowings, Lufthansa and Ryanair fly directly to Ireland from Germany. Aer Lingus offers the most connections. The Irish airline has its hub in Dublin and flies direct to Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, Dusseldorf, Zurich and many other European cities.

Transparency: This article was created as part of a paid collaboration with Discover Ireland. I was invited to Ireland for research purposes. Thanks a lot for this! You can find more exciting information about Ireland on the following websites:

Ireland Information (Tourism Ireland)

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Mystical Brú na Bóinne
Halloween in Ireland
From another time: The Trim Castle