The Real Magic of an Irish Halloween

Selected Blog from the Returning to Wonder Series – 2012 to 2017

I jumped at the opportunity to organise a Halloween Ghost Tour Walk at Lough Eske, County Donegal, in conjuction with my friends at Harvey’s Point. The biggest fright was on me when I arrived to a large crowd of fancy dressed goblins, witches, vampires, and all sorts of monsters, waiting to be led out into the night!

My invented character was a dastardly grave-digger by the name of Moriarty, with as much moral scruples as a Wall Street investment banker. We set off through the gloom of a damp November night in search off an ancient highway man’s buried treasure. Our first stop was the local Famine Pot where I recounted tales of Banshees and feared witches from the Bluestack Mountain valleys. Harvey’s Point had laid on hot soup for everyone…to fortify our courage.

We set off once again in the direction of Lough Eske Castle along a dark forest path. There were no special effects and yet the imagination of the kids took over and conjured up all sorts of apparitions and spooks lurking in the woods. A few good friends had agreed to emerge from the woods and give us all an old fashioned scare which worked a treat. There were more ghost stories in Lough Eske Castle and by the shores of Lough Eske before we returned to the warmth and light of Harvey’s Point once again. We then settled in for a night of adult ghost stories and prizes sponsored by Deirdre and Marc Gysling at Harvey’s Point.

There’s something strangely therapeutic about celebrating the dark, the macabre, and the unknown at Halloween, especially when it draws people together. There is also a certain playful freedom in putting on a mask or fancy dress and taking a break from maintaining our image and the everyday expectations of society.
That’s why it’s so important for us to celebrate festivals and mark special calendar occasions together. Walking, whether in a parade, protest march, somber procession, Easter Egg hunt, or even a ghost storytelling walk, seems to lend itself naturally to such events. Participating and celebrating in calendar celebrations and festivals help us mark the passing year and take us out of a seemingly endless cycle of daily routine, responsibilities and concerns.

While it’s true that consumerism has wrapped itself around Halloween, as it is has with many of our calendar festivals – there is still a certain magic to be found and a sense of wonder to be shared.

The Returning to Wonder continues….