By Megan-Josephine Reynolds
Celebrated every year on October 31st, the holiday of Hallowe’en is believed to have developed from the Gaelic festival, Samhain. From dressing up to pumpkin carving, some of its most-loved traditions have roots in Irish culture. Here, we explore October events taking place in Galway that celebrate both Hallowe’en and its Gaelic heritage.
Pumpkin Carving: Galway Pumpkin Patch
The tradition of pumpkin carving began in Ireland, as a result of the folktale ‘Stingy Jack’. In the legend, Jack invites the Devil for a drink but tricks him into paying for it. As a result, Jack was forced to eternally wander Ireland when he died, prevented from moving on into the afterlife as a punishment. To guide his way, he was given a single coal ember which he placed inside a carved-out turnip, gaining himself the nickname ‘Jack-O’-Lantern.
From this legend, it became an Irish tradition to carve turnips and other root vegetables in Jack’s likeness. When the tradition spread to America, it developed into carving pumpkins.
Try out your best carving skills this year after a visit to Galway Pumpkin Patch. You can pick out your favourite pumpkin to bring home, meet their farm animals and enjoy the various themed games on site.
Tickets on sale here.
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Pulling Tricks: Halloween Treat at Turoe Pet Farm
The tick-or-treating we know today originates from the old Celtic practice of mumming, where children would perform tricks in order to win food or other prizes. In the Victorian Ages, those from lower income areas would visit the houses of those much wealthier, and receive pastries known as ‘soul cakes’ in exchange for promising to pray for the homeowner’s deceased relatives.
Get more treats than tricks at Halloween Treat in Turoe Pet Farm. Their indoor soft play jungles are all decorated and ready for a spooky seasonal experience. Children can meet the farm animals, take to the slides, ball pits and rope ladders of “Jungle City”, or leap and bounce on the massive “Inflatable City”. Face painting and balloon modelling along with a fancy dress parade at 4pm followed by a disco hosted by DJ Corky and Special Mascots. An afternoon of great fun and entertainment is promised along with hot food and refreshments
More info available here.
Dressing Up: Macnas Hallowe’en Parade
One of the biggest traditions of Samhain was dressing up. It was believed that during the festival, the division between the land of the living and the dead was at its weakest, allowing harmful spirits to pass through. To disguise themselves, people wore costumes and masks to look like the spirits and therefore avoid harm.
Macnas Hallowe’en Parade is an eclectic mix of brilliant costumes, giant creations, pyrotechnics and sculptural images all set to the backdrop of live and original music. All audience members are encouraged to wear their favourite Hallowe’en costumes, in order to participate in the fantastically spooky atmosphere.
The parade is set to run on October 24th at 5.30pm, Covid-19 restrictions allowing. More information is available here.
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Hallowe’en Games: Spooky Fest at Loughwell Pet Farm
Some of the best-loved Hallowe’en games originated from Samhain, including apple bobbing. It was said that if a person caught the apple and placed it by their bedside when sleeping, they would dream of their soulmate. Another legend states that if the apple is peeled and the skin thrown over your shoulder, it will take the shape of the initial of the person you will marry.
At Spooky Fest in Loughwell Pet Farm, children will be able to explore their own haunted house with the Wonky Witches, playing games and making spells. They can even search the rooms for magic potion ingredients, and meet all the animals on the pet farm.