In Ireland during the month of October there is almost endless things for you to get up to. They include:
● Bram Stoker Festival
● Derry Halloween
● Northern Ireland War Memorial
● Talking Walls Festival Achill Island
● Dingle Food Festival
Go to the Bram Stoker Festival
For a couple of days every October the Bram Stoker Festival takes place in Dublin city. It is a great place to check out if you are a fan of the famous Irish literary legend responsible for the novel ‘Dracula’.
Bram was born in Dublin city in 1847. He worked in the Irish civil service and was also a theater critic for a city newspaper. In addition to this he quiet interestingly married Oscar Wilde’s former girlfriend Florence Balcombe. He moved to London with her, where he started a family and worked in the theatre industry.
His inspiration for Dracula came during his time in England. In 1897 the book was published. Dracula took a while to gain traction. In fact, Stoker saw little financial benefit from the release of the book during his lifetime. It wasn’t until a full decade after his death did Dracula really start gaining some interest. In 1922 the film Nosferatu was released. The film is a German expressionist movie based on Stoker’s Dracula. Many images from the motion picture have become iconic and the film itself was a huge hit at the time. After the release of the film, Stoker’s book finally achieved the popularity it deserved for so long.
The Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin not only holds events celebrating this amazing book, but has in the past had events focused on the 1922 film adaption as well. At a previous festival an animated interpretation of the horror film was shown at the festival. You could easily be lucky and be greeted with more work related to Nosferatu if you attend.
The festival has of course a Halloween feel about it. There will be a number of spooky tours where you will discover some hidden haunted spots in Dublin. You can also expect food villages, face painting and fun family friendly live entertainment at the festival. Also, a lot of the events tend to be free or pretty reasonably priced, so there’s no better way get in to the spooky October spirit than checking this festival out.
Have a Scarily Fun Time at Derry Halloween
Derry Halloween spans for about a week each October on the run up to Halloween. The festival takes place in Northern Ireland’s second city of Derry. You can except to be greeted with a tonne of entertainment and activities including fun spooky parades, markets and fairs. If you have children this could be a great event to bring them to, as they will feel they are walking in a Halloween wonderland.
The festival’s origins began in the mid 1980’s as communities began promoting Halloween related events in the city. Now the festival draws in about 100,000 attendees a year. In addition, up to 600 people participate in the festival itself. Many of these are involved in the main carnival where scores of children and performers dress up in scary costumes for the main Carnival parade. Up to 40,000 people attend this Carnival alone.
Taking part in Halloween festivities in Ireland makes sense, as Halloween has its origins in Gaelic tradition. Samhain was a Gaelic festival celebrating the end of harvest season. It was celebrated for centuries in Scotland and Ireland. During this festival people would leave food out for spirits that they believed would help them survive the winter. People use to even go door to door in disguise from the spirits seeking food. It is easy to see how the Samhain festival had a huge influence on Halloween. In fact, Halloween in Irish is known as Oíche Shamhna. In a literal translation that means Night of Samhain.
Bonfires were lit during the festival of Samhain as well. Still to this day there are towns and cities across Ireland that are full of illegal bonfires which are set alight on Halloween. In the last few decades fireworks have also become extremely popular on Halloween night in Ireland. It is thus appropriate that on the last night of Derry Halloween (which is of course Halloween night) that there is a huge firework display for all the city and attendees of the festival to enjoy.
Visit the Northern Ireland war memorial
When you are in Northern Ireland for Derry Halloween you should also check out the Northern Ireland War Memorial. This building is in the centre of Belfast, less than an hour and a half’s drive from Derry city.
The Northern Ireland War Memorial is a museum that focuses on Northern Ireland’s role in the second world war. Unlike the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland was not neutral during the second world war. Since it was part of the United Kingdom it fought alongside allied forces in the conflict.
There is a dedicated part of the museum for the effect the Blitz had on Northern Ireland. Belfast for centuries was one of the most industrial areas on the island of Ireland. During World War Two it produced dozens of warships and hundreds of fighter aircraft. It was also a hub for uniform and ammunition production. All this activity made it a target for Nazi forces and hence unlike Dublin it suffered majorly during the German Blitz. The Blitz were huge German bombing campaigns of British cities during the war. Over a thousand Northern Irish citizens loss their lives to these horrendous events. In one night alone 900 people were killed. It was one of the deadliest of any attacks that the Germans carried out in the UK.
In the museum there are sculptures dedicated to people killed in the Belfast Blitz. You can also listen to audio recordings of people who survived from the bombings.
There is also a section of the museum that highlights the American presence in Northern Ireland during WWII. Over a hundred thousand U.S. Troops were stationed in the North to prepare for the allied invasion of Normandy.
The museum also shows how women from Northern Ireland played a role in the war effort. Thousands of women worked in factories that produced shells and ammunitions. Women Voluntary Services also aided families who were affected the Blitz. They provided them with both food and clothing.
If you’re interested in learning more about WWII and Northern Ireland, then this museum can’t be missed.
Talking Walls Festival Achill Island
Another October festival that you should check out when you are in Ireland is the Talking Walls Festival Achill Island. The festival usually lasts for a week in October of each year and is a celebration of Achill Island
Achill island is Ireland’s largest coastal island. It is an island steeped in history and natural beauty. Located at the west coast of Ireland next to the Atlantic ocean, it is also in the county of Mayo. The island has strong historical links with the O’Malley clan, with Ireland most famous female pirate ‘Grace O’Malley’ having a castle on the island. The castle’s ruins still exist to this day. It was around this island of Achill where she was based and planned attacks on merchant ships that would sail nearby.
You can also find some haunting sites throughout the island, including a deserted village that was abandoned due to death and emigration caused by the famine. Still to this day the ruins of dozens of houses can be seen.
Parts of Achill island are in the Gealtacht, meaning that the Irish language is spoken by many as a first language there. Interestingly enough, even though the island speaks the Connacht Irish dialect of Irish (a dialect reflecting its location in the province of Connacht) there is an influence of Ulster Irish in the way people can speak. This is due to the fact that the island saw some immigration from Ireland’s northern province of Ulster a few hundreds years ago, due to sectarian tensions there.
Geographically speaking the island is home to some fascinating areas and landmasses. One should landmass includes Croaghaun. Croaghaun is the third highest sea cliff in all of Europe. The island also has some gorgeous beaches, and beautiful hills and mountains. If the October weather isn’t that bad when you’re there for the festival and you choose to climb one of the island’s peaks you will be greeted by a stunning view of the ocean and the island itself.
With the Talking Walls Festival you will hear historical talks at some of the islands most historically significant locations to learn more about the island. There will also be song and poetry about the island that will be performed. Possible art exhibitions and films about the island will also be displayed and you will be exposed to events focused on the local seafood and sea industries.
The island is one of the more remote locations in Ireland. It is a couple of hours away from most cities, even Connacht’s only city of Galway. However, the remoteness of the island is one of the things that makes it so fascinating. And even though it is an island it is still connected to the mainland by a bridge, so travelling by car there is not problematic. Achill Island is a mystical place and there are few other ways for you to really gain an appreciation for it than by attending the Talking Walls festival in October. It is well worth the visit.
Dingle Food Festival
Dingle is a town in Ireland that has one of the most exciting food festivals in the entirety of Ireland. The festival takes over a weekend and draws in a big crowd to the quaint Irish town that is known not only for its culture and nightlife, but also its food.
Dingle is splendidly located on the Dingle peninsula where it is surrounded by amazing views. Driving is probably the best way to get there. For travellers from Europe, you might be in luck because Kerry Airport is only about an hour’s drive from Dingle. The airport has a number of different roots mainly to London, Germany and Spain.
The town has a huge tourism industry considering its size. It brings in crowds both from Ireland and abroad and its food festival is no exception. Considering it’s not during the summer high season you shouldn’t find it too difficult to find quality accommodation in the town during the festival.
Dingle has long been an important trading port. It has accepted food and drink produce from around Europe for centuries. There’s no doubt that this has had an influence on the amazing food producers and providers in the area. At the festival and in restaurants you’ll be greeted by exotic dishes not native to Ireland.
Dingle is also known for fishing. The fishing industry was a major life source for the economy since the start of the 19th century. It is no surprise then that much of the food on display in the festival is under the seafood category.
There is a selection of live food demonstrations to enjoy at the festival. Each demonstration focuses on different types of dishes that you can prepare. They are also hosted by highly skilled professional chefs who have ample knowledge of their craft.
In addition to demonstrations, you will be treated with workshops, live entertainment and children events. One of the most fun aspects of the festival is that of the trails you can participate in. One such trail is the Taste Trail. This is where you buy a book of Taste Trail tickets and each ticket can be used at selected outlets. This is a fun way to spend an afternoon, particularly if you’re indecisive and want to try as much from different sources as you can.