Celebrate the Gaelic holiday of Samhain by partaking in traditions with ancient roots.

Samhain is nearly here, so start celebrating now to make the most of this Gaelic tradition. In the Reeks District, there are many ways to get out and enjoy the time of year that traditionally marked the end of the harvest and ushered in the dark time of the year. Although the days are growing shorter and colder, this time of year can be fun if you embrace it.  

Here are the top 5 ways to celebrate Samhain in the Reeks District:

1. Carve a scary face into a vegetable

Pumpkins have become the symbol of Hallowe’en, but the tradition of carving jack-o-lanterns actually came from the Irish Samhain tradition of carving turnips. Jack-o-lantern carving was brought to America by Irish immigrants who there discovered that pumpkins are much easier to carve than turnips. If you’re looking for a challenge, go old school and try carving a turnip this year.

turnip jackolantern

Turnips are more challenging to carve into jack-o-lanterns, but also scarier.

2. Attend a fire show

On Friday the 14th of October, An Turas Mór will be holding a fire show in the plaza in Killorglin at 7PM. The show is a modern nod to the ritual bonfires that were a big part of Samhain celebrations in times past.

Samhain fire show

In the olden days, we had bonfires. Now we have a fire show.

3. Go for a nature walk

There’s nothing more spectacular than the show put on by Mother Nature every October in the Reeks District. The leaves are changing. Morning mist creeps down from the mountain tops or rolls in from the sea. It’s also mating season for deer and feral goats, so the forests will be filled with the calls of lovelorn mammals. Go for a stroll around Lickeen to experience the real magic of nature in the autumn.

Kerry deer rut

The look of love is in his eyes. A stag bellows during the autumn rut.

4. Eat what’s in season

Samhain has always been about the conclusion of the harvest. Apples from Castlemaine and blackberries from the Laune River area are available in local shops, so take advantage of the opportunity to eat produce from the Reeks District when it’s at its freshest.

Fresh apples and berries are one of the nicest things about autum.

5. Dress up to hide from the Aos Sí

In the ancient world, Irish people feared the Aos Sí, or faeries, all year round, but on Samhain, it was important to take extra precautions to protect oneself from beings of the Otherworld who might be crossing between worlds during the transition from the bright time of year to the dark time. Putting on a costume to disguise yourself from the Aos Sí was the most logical thing to do. In the last century, wearing a Hallowe’en costume became something for children, but nowadays adults are getting back to embracing the craic and getting dressed up, too.

After all the Samhain celebrations, you might need a place to come in from the cold for food or drink. We suggest Bunkers, Kingston’s or The Bianconi.  


Read more stories on our Notes from the Reeks blog