Halloween in Ireland, traditionally known as Samhain (SOW-in), marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the ‘darker half' of the year. Rituals and traditions that we still carry out today were begun in Ireland as far back as 10th century- including pumpkin carving, the wearing of costumes, and trick or treating.
Ireland, an already magical place, becomes even more so during the cross-over season. In the west of Ireland you can easily fit these three castle celebrations into a 7-10 day itinerary. Tip: fly in and out of Shannon Airport if possible.
Be sure to pack your costumes for this Ireland vacation!
Castle Celebrations for a Magical Halloween in Ireland
Bunratty Castle – County Clare
Begin celebrating Halloween in Ireland at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park where you'll find the bean á tí (woman of the house) in the cottages preparing fall treats as a witch sits near a warm peat fire churning tales of toil and trouble.
Skeletons lead dance parties in the village while zombies and fire eaters roam the lanes. Even the village church isn't safe from the ghouls as two sit outside, still as statues in their wedding finery. Until someone gets too close.
Ghosts of the Earl and his lady wander the Great Hall of the castle and only the bravest of souls will enter the haunted dungeon.
The corn barn, usually filled with the harvest, is instead bursting with activities from face painting to fortune telling and all manner of ghoulish creatures- including owls, who carry ill omen, snakes, and reptiles.
Where to stay: Bunratty Meadows B&B is just minutes from the castle gates!
Ashford Castle – County Mayo
Just around the end of October Ashford Castle transforms to a School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – providing a magical stay for kids and grownups alike!
Arrive early for a family treasure hunt in the forbidden forest before the kids are whisked away by their ‘professors' for hours of fun – including magic lessons, cooking with the house elves, afternoon tea, a grand feast, and a viewing of Harry Potter in the sumptuous cinema (complete with candy and popcorn).
Mom and Dad will enjoy their own charmed evening – 6 hours of kid-free time in this enchanting castle! Wander the gardens, enjoy afternoon tea, take a boat ride on the lough, fly falcons, or indulge in a spa experience. You'll end the evening with a gorgeous 5 course meal in the George V dining room before collecting your wizards and witches.
Where to stay: Ashford Castle, of course! For special events, such as Halloween, choose Food & Drink from the navigation bar, then What's On. Or enter ‘wizard school' in the search bar.
Westport House – County Mayo
Stately Westport House, built atop the dungeons of a castle of the Pirate Queen, Grace O'Malley, is transformed for Halloween!
Enter the haunted library to hear the local witch share her spooky tales or cook up some magic in the Spooky Spoons workshop where eye of newt and wing of bat are key ingredients. Learn to dance like a zombie in the Large Dining Room or, if you are brave enough, venture to the dungeons to search for treasure – or carve a pumpkin to take with you for scaring off the spirits that will roam after dark.
Amusements don't just take place inside the manor – you'll find the Front Lawn filled with carnival rides and games and you can also enjoy the Westport Train Tour.