Where Halloween's story begins...

Ireland –Where Halloween’s Story Began

Evidence gathered from archaeology digs, legends, myths and fables (Samhain), spirits, Celtic history have all been examined so that one story about the authentic origins of Halloween in Ireland can be told.

The Púca Festival town of Athboy is an important hub of Halloween tradition.  Old manuscripts tell us that a hill outside the town, Tlachtga or The Hill of Ward, was a site of great Samhain gathering.

Lying 12 miles, as the crow flies, from Tara, it was at Tlachtga that the druids lit a fire from which all the fires in Ireland were rekindled. The king, watching anxiously from Tara was reassured when he saw the new lit fires blazing on the western horizon. All would be well for another year – the forces of Winter and death were conquered

Recent archaeological excavations at Tlachtga suggest this ancient hill was used for feasting and ceremonies, and to this day the Boyne Valley remains as one of the epicentres of Halloween tradition.

The Hill of Ward is one of many sites in Ireland linked to Samhain. Each of these sites has it’s own story, one being that every Samhain a host of otherworldly beings emerge from Oweynagat (cave of the cats), at Rathcroghan in County Roscommon



This time was also known as Féile na Marbh (the Feast of the Dead). As the veil between worlds thinned, all manner of spirits walked abroad at Samhain, including those of loved ones passed on.

Among those coming forth from the chasm of space and time between summer and winter are the harbingers of

The tradition of wearing costumes and masks at Samhain was developed to deceive these same unfriendly spirits lest they recognised you and called you to the Otherworld before your time.  Nervous living folk would attempt to appease the wandering spirit with gifts of fruit and nuts, which may be the origin of the ubiquitous trick or treating.

The interpretation of mythological characters of Celtic folklore such as Púca, Boann, the Morrigan and the Red Men lend way for creativity and engagement with Samhain. Each of the characters have their own behavioural attitudes and party tricks which come together to symbolise the mischief and rule-breaking element of the Púca festival

What is Samhain?

Samhain sits on a threshold – between the light of summer and the dark of winter. It divides the year. Splits it in two. And from this split a tear appears. It breaks the barriers between our world and that of the ‘Other’.

This otherworldly moment has become an occasion celebrated all over the world today. But long before the rest of the world, Ireland was celebrating this great druidic festival marking the boundary between our world and the spirit world. It is here that Halloween began.

Samhain is also the end of the harvest season, when all the crops have been picked and stored for the “New Year”. This was identified as the year end in ancient Celtic times and was a time of celebration. Our ancestors believed in celebrating points in the calendar year according to the turning of the seasons. We know that this celebration of the new year involved lighting fires, feasting on the crops of the harvest, music, gathering together and storytelling. Storytelling was a very vibrant tradition and still is in Ireland.

Púca Festival will reopen traditions and salute the Halloween spirits over three spectacular nights of music, fire, feasting and mischief in the land where it all began.

Festival Tribe

You may have seen our otherworldly characters beginning to appear ahead of Samhain. At Púca get ready to meet The Morrigan – the dark, Boann – the light, Fear Dearg – the mischief, and of course Púca who represents the change. Pick your tribe, and choose carefully when you’re all down at the festival ready for some fire, feasting, music and mischief!

Download your Púca Festival Masks Here and be ready to join your tribe!



Join us on The Hill of Ward for a spiritual and historical retelling of the original Halloween story.

Find out more


A three day festival of Halloween music, film & light installations in one of Ireland's oldest towns.

Find out more
Trim Castle

Trim Castle

Three supernatural nights of music, food light & Halloween spectacle in the stunning castle grounds.

Find out more