While Halloween may be synonymous nowadays with Trick–or-treating, black and orange-coloured products and fancy dress, the roots of the holiday in fact go back to the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain, which signalled the end of Summer and a celebration of the harvest. What we now know as Halloween first began on the beautiful island of Ireland, which makes it the perfect place to celebrate the holiday. Below we have listed some spooky and enchanting places in Ireland, the perfect Halloween hotspots!
Cork City Gaol
Cork City Gaol is a former prison and now a leading museum in Cork City. The gaol opened in 1824 as the first mixed-sex prison before being a women-only prison until is closed in 1923. Despite being out of use for so long, life still seems to live on within the walls of Cork City Gaol. Both staff and visitors have reported hearing voices down abandoned hallways and lights turning on or off without people being present. The gaol is temporarily closed due to lockdown restrictions but you can still tour the hallways and discover the exhibitions via the virtual tour here, only if you’re brave enough…
The Giant’s Causeway, Co. Antrim, NI
One of the most iconic geological features in the world, the Giant’s Causeway is an area steeped in myth and legend. While many will look at the set of volcanic rock formations solely as an incredible feat of nature and science at work, the site is also famous for its place in Irish history – folk stories tell of the Irish giant Finn McCool, who hurled chunks of the Antrim coast into the sea to build this bridge over to Scotland, in order to settle a grudge with another giant. The Giant’s Causeway is definitely one of Ireland’s most mysterious and enchanting landmarks that attracts tourists from all across the world.
Not to be confused with the park in London, Spike Island in Cork bears witness to 1300 years of Irish history. The island’s earliest evidence suggests that Spike Island was originally the site of a monastic settlement, founded by Saint Mochuada and used as a place of worship during the 7th century. However, the island has also been used as a place of defence, confinement and punishment. During the 18th century the famous fort was built which remains standing today and dominates much of the island. But the island is best-known for being a prison, the largest in the world at one point. Today, Spike Island offers guided day tours to give visitors a sense of its history.
Have you heard of Kinnity Castle in County Offaly? It’s one of the castles in the Haunted Triangle of Ireland and seems to have things that go ‘bump’ in the night! Kinnity Castle was first built in 1209 but was burned to the ground by Irish Republicans in 1922 and rebuilt to its current state in 1928. Today, the castle is open to visitors for overnight stays and is a popular wedding venue, despite having a haunted reputation. The castle was once the subject of an investigation on the UK TV show ‘Most Haunted’ and guests have reported seeing shadows in the corner of their room during the witching hour.
Experience the mystical side of Ireland through our Mystical Ireland package, perfect for those curious about mythology, the romance of sacred sites and the traditions of other cultures! Get in touch with us directly to speak to one of our travel experts and to find out more.