By Peg Prendeville

Congratulations to Clodagh Mullane, oldest daughter of Ta and Ita Mullane who got married last Friday in St Nicholas Church in Galway to Mark Dickson from Scotland. The reception took place at the “g Hotel Galway”. This is the 2nd wedding for the Mullane family this year. Paul was married during the summer. Ta and Ita can relax now and wait for the grandchildren!  Of course they already have two from their son Val – Darragh and Ava.

It is nearing Halloween. One time Halloween lasted for a day on October 31st but we’ve gone all American and it lasts for nearly two weeks with houses decorated etc like a mini Christmas. The fun part of it is grand with children dressing up and getting excited about pumpkins and Trick or Treat but when neighbourhoods live in fear of the blackguarding that goes on it takes the fun out of it. I was talking to man from Newcastlewest recently who has to stand outside his door in the estate where he lives each night for about two weeks to ward off the young ones from throwing stones at the houses and frightening the dwellers within. No fun there. Thankfully we, here in Knockdown, do not have that complaint.  

It is interesting to read how the tradition of Halloween ever began. It has its roots in our own Celtic traditions. 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 is considered to be at its  thinnest, allowing spirits to pass through. The family’s ancestors were honoured 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. With the arrival of Christianity, through St Patrick, these traditions were incorporated into the Christian calendar. So now we have Halloween on the 31st October followed by 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. And so the American customs return to Ireland and the pumpkin is very popular here now too. When I was young we hallowed out a turnip and cut out two eyes and nose and placed a candle inside it. We also had snap apple but that was about all the celebrations then. It was the time of year to talk about ghosts and tell ghost stories.

Peg and Jack O’Grady enjoyed a lovely weekend of visits from well-wishers and family on the occasion of their 65th wedding anniversary last week.