Warring giants, mystical festivals, and Celtic gods: delve into Ireland’s fascinating folklore.
In County Antrim, the Giant’s Causeway was formed when magma from the earth’s core hit the sea, crystallizing into 40,000 perfectly hexagonal basalt columns. But myth offers another origin story for this UNESCO World Heritage Site: the giant Fionn MacCumhall (Finn MacCool) ripped the stones from the ground and created a bridge to Scotland in order to face his rival, Benandonner.
An enjoyable walk of just under a kilometer will bring you down to the Causeway itself, where you can hop over the stones, explore the surrounding hills, or just sit and contemplate the puzzling geology that has led to one of the most remarkable natural sites in Europe.
On the shores of Lough Leane in County Kerry Oisín, the son of Fionn MacCumhall fell in love with the beautiful and immortal Niamh. He went with his beloved to the land of eternal youth, Tír na nÓg. He became homesick after a while, desperate to visit his relatives. Niamh lent him her horse to gallop home. Sadly, upon arrival he found out that 300 years had passed, and his family was long gone. Distraught, he stepped off his horse and aged 300 years, dying soon afterward.
Trace Halloween right back to its origins and you’ll find yourself in the mists of pagan Ireland over 2,000 years ago — a time when the ancient festival of Samhain was celebrated in the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East to mark the beginning of winter. There’s no better place to celebrate the spooky season than on the island of Ireland.
The Púca Halloween Festival is a folklore-infused celebration of Ireland as the original birthplace of Halloween. Thrilling events takes place in County Meath, filled to the brim with dazzling spectacles, music, harvest food and more.
In Northern Ireland, Derry Halloween is a must-see. For over 35 years, this event has captured the imaginations of visitors to the famous Walled City, with several events celebrating the city’s unbridled creativity.
According to legend, the Hill of Uisneach in County Westmeath is the gateway to a magical “otherworld”, the burial place of a queen and the seat of former kings. Mystical energy hangs in the air, particularly at one of its most famous features: Ail na Mireann (the stone of divisions), also known as The Catstone. This boulder marks the resting place of Éiru, the goddess of Ireland, and designates this spot as the heart of Ireland, where the four provinces came together in olden times.
In May, the Bealtaine Fire Festival takes place here, offering up a magical day of feasting, music, dance, and flames. The festivities celebrate the ancient tradition of Ireland’s High King lighting a fire at Uisneach to welcome in the summer period.
Which magical and mythical place in Ireland would you like to visit?