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Ghouls, ghosts and things that go bump in the night...

Halloween is almost upon us and to help you celebrate, Ireland Writing Retreat has unearthed some of the Celtic roots of this annual tradition while presenting a Special Prize to the first two Friends of the retreat who answer the following questions correctly:

1. One particular ghost story first published in 1887 focuses on a family that moves to a castle haunted by a dead nobleman and was written by a well-known Irish writer better known for his plays. Who was the writer and what was the name of the short story?

2. What is the Irish (Gaeilge) translation of 'Halloween?'

3. What is the name of the author who wrote the famed novel 'Dracula' and what city was he born in?


Deadline: Deadly Hour of Midnight in Ireland on Monday, October 31, 2016.

Hurry & become a Friend of the Ireland Writing Retreat to get access to this Exclusive Opportunity.

Halloween: Celtic roots as described by researchers at the Newgrange prehistoric site in Ireland

“As millions of children and adults participate in the fun of Halloween on the night of October 31st, few will be aware of its ancient Celtic roots in the Samhain (Samain) festival. In Celtic Ireland about 2,000 years ago, Samhain was the division of the year between the lighter half (summer) and the darker half (winter). At Samhain the division between this world and the Otherworld was at its thinnest, allowing spirits to pass through.

The family's ancestors were honored and invited home whilst harmful spirits were warded off. People wore costumes and masks to disguise themselves as harmful spirits and thus avoid harm. Bonfires and food played a large part in the festivities. The bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into a communal fire, household fires were extinguished and started again from the bonfire. Food was prepared for the living and the dead, food for the ancestors who were in no position it eat it, was ritually shared with the less well off.

Christianity incorporated the honoring of the dead into the Christian calendar with All Saints (All Hallows) on November 1st, followed by All Souls on November 2nd. The wearing of costumes and masks to ward off harmful spirits survived as Halloween customs. The Irish emigrated to America in great numbers during the 19th century especially around the time of famine in Ireland during the 1840's. The Irish carried their Halloween traditions to America, where today it is one of the major holidays of the year. Through time other traditions have blended into Halloween, for example the American harvest time tradition of carving pumpkins.

Two hills in the Boyne Valley were associated with Samhain in Celtic Ireland, Tlachtga and Tara. Tlachtga was the location of the Great Fire Festival which was started on Halloween eve. Tara was also associated with Samhain, however it was secondary to Tlachtga in this respect.

The entrance passage to the Mound of the Hostages on the Hill of Tara is aligned with the rising sun around Samhain. The Mound of the Hostages is 4,500 to 5,000 years old, suggesting that Halloween could have been celebrated before the first Celts arrived in Ireland about 2,500 years ago.”

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