Get Your Ghoul On!

Child at Hallowe'en Bonfire
          Child at Hallowe’en Bonfire, Old Court, Bray, county Wicklow, 1980

With summer a distant memory, and the harvest period having drawn to a close, Hallowe'en (All Hallows Eve) Oíche Shamhna was considered a turning point in the traditional calendar year. Cattle were brought from summer pastures to fields closer to the family homestead, and corn, apples, turnips and potatoes were all harvested and stored at this time, along with turf and wood needed as fuel for the cold nights ahead.

As the beginning of the dark season, Oíche Shamhna (literally ‘November Night’), or Hallowe’en, celebrated at sundown on the 31st of October, has long stood out in popular tradition as a time particularly associated with the spirits of the otherworld, and individuals out travelling the road at this time were considered liable to meet with the fairies, the dead or the púca (the mischievous phantom horse that would abduct wayfarers, taking them on terrifying rides across the countryside by night).

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