Ancient Halloween traditions celebrated in Co Meath


As darkness fell this evening, Athboy in Co Meath lit up to celebrate Sámhain.

By Laura Hogan

As darkness fell this evening, Athboy in Co Meath lit up to celebrate Sámhain.

“An Lasadh Suas” is the closing ceremony this Halloween night, on the fifth day of the Púca Festival in Co Meath.

A ceremonial fire was lit at Tlachtga, or the Hill of Ward in Athboy, and a procession lead to the Fair Green in the town.

Tlachtga is said to be the location where the ancient Irish lit a fire from which all fires in Ireland were rekindled.

In the Fair Green, four fire sculptures representing the hills of Tara, Loughcrew, Tailteann and Uisneach were set alight.

For the last number of days, people have been leaving messages for their ancestors in the fire installation “An Lasadh Suas”, which also went up in flames during the ceremony this evening.

Storytelling and sean nós singing provided the soundtrack for the cermony in Athboy, where people gathered from around 5pm.

Performances from Kíla and the Pyro Collective closed the event, which has attracted thousands of visitors over the five day event.

Fáilte Ireland says the festival was devised to promote Ireland as the “home of Halloween”, and attract tourism at a time of the year that might be quiet otherwise.

The origins of the Halloween we know today are rooted here in Ireland and the ancient Celtic tradition of Sámhain.

Meath is among the places said to be home of some these, marking the end of Harvest Season and the start of Winter.

The tour of the Porchie Fields

Earlier today in Trim, “mortal guide” Cynthia Simonet guided visitors through this world and an “other world”, with help from her “immortal” colleagues.

The tour in the Porchie Fields boasts views over Trim Castle and the River Boyne, as people learned about the tradition of wearing costumes and masks to protect themselves from the magical creatures who were said to enter this world on Sámhain.

Kilene Cass from Florida in the United States was among those on the walking tour overlooking Trim today. She said she had done some research on Sámhain before coming here.

Erin Tweed from Colorado had been on holidays in Ireland already, but extended her trip to celebrate Halloween and attend the Púca Festival.

In Athboy, a “harvest market” was in full swing. Among the activities, an axe throwing stand.

Benny Ennis said that while we don’t know if our ancestors participated in Axe throwing, there would have been a tradition of champions showing off their strength and skill at large gatherings.

Just after 6pm this evening, the ceremonial fire arrived at the Fair Green in Athboy, before a crowd of hundreds witnessed “An Lasadh Suas”.

Last year, the Púca festival generated €3 million for the local economy and organisers say that that figure has already been surpassed.

Source: Ancient Halloween traditions celebrated in Co Meath

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