WITCHES, warlocks, ghosts and ghouls are set to deliver a welcome economic treat this Halloween.
The 10th annual World Ghost Convention will be staged in Cork next week with hundreds set to sign up for ghost walks, psychic lectures, spooky stories and tips on how to "sense the spirits" and even communicate with angels.
The event takes place, fittingly enough, in Cork Gaol, which is reckoned by many to rank as one of Ireland's most haunted buildings. The star speaker this year will be Helen Barrett, better known as the White Witch of the Isles.
Helen, from Cobh, Co Cork, is best known for her uncanny predictions of future events and will, over the convention, be dealing with fate and how people can call up ancient, ghostly forces for help in the current grim times.
Helen is the proud leader of Ireland's 3,500 witches and warlocks whose secret archives are rumoured to date back more than 900 years. Halloween is a special time -- as the Celts were well aware -- with Helen claiming that two parallel planes cross over, allowing fleeting contact between two different worlds.
The convention (which is a voluntary, non-profit project) is aimed at promoting an awareness and appreciation in Ireland of the supernatural. The convention will also feature special contributions from University College Cork's Department of Folklore.
The convention is hosted by UCC's Kevin Power and Dr Margaret Humphreys.
Two of the major attractions at this year's event will be Galway-based shaman and spiritual healer Paul O'Halloran, and Dutch angel therapist Rosita Christiaanse.
Ms Christiaanse specialises in communicating with "higher energy" beings like angels and will explain how people can listen to "whispering spirits" in their lives. Mr O'Halloran will outline various hauntings he has dealt with in Ireland over recent years.
The World Ghost Convention will be officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Cork Michael O'Connell on Friday.