Tuesday 16 July 2019

Halloween comes home: New 'Púca' festival could attract 100,000 visitors

Fáilte Ireland is investing €1.5 million in a festival bringing Halloween back to its roots, reports Pól Ó Conghaile

A caste of characters pictured on the Hill of Ward, Co. Meath at the announcement of Fáilte Ireland’s new festival, Púca. Photo: Shane O'Neill, SON Photographic
A caste of characters pictured on the Hill of Ward, Co. Meath at the announcement of Fáilte Ireland’s new festival, Púca. Photo: Shane O'Neill, SON Photographic
Ministers Brendan Griffin, Regina Doherty, Helen McEntee and Damien English join Jenny DeSaulles, Head of Ireland’s Ancient East with Fáilte Ireland, and others for the launch of Ireland’s new festival, Púca. Picture by Shane O'Neill, SON Photographic
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Forget frights, freaks and fancy dress.

For many, the scariest thing about Halloween is the extent to which it has morphed from old-school holiday into all-consuming retail season.

For several weeks every year, we're turned into consumer zombies, awash in supermarket costumes, plastic pumpkins and endless bags of sweets.

So international is its look and feel, in fact, it's easy to forget that Halloween can claim to have roots in Ireland - particularly the festival of Samhain.

That's the thinking behind Púca, anyway - a festival announced by Fáilte Ireland with the intention of bring Halloween back home.

With an investment of €1.5m over three years, Púca aims to position Ireland internationally as the home of Halloween - and will feature a programme of events centred around counties Meath and Louth later this year.

Ministers Brendan Griffin, Regina Doherty, Helen McEntee and Damien English join Jenny DeSaulles, Head of Ireland’s Ancient East with Fáilte Ireland, and others for the launch of Ireland’s new festival, Púca. Picture by Shane O'Neill, SON Photographic
Ministers Brendan Griffin, Regina Doherty, Helen McEntee and Damien English join Jenny DeSaulles, Head of Ireland’s Ancient East with Fáilte Ireland, and others for the launch of Ireland’s new festival, Púca. Picture by Shane O'Neill, SON Photographic

Funded by Fáilte Ireland, Meath County Council and Louth County Council, the festival will be delivered by arts-led creative production company, Curated Place, and takes place between October 31 and November 2.

“The development of tourism festivals is part of Fáilte Ireland’s strategy to attract domestic and international visitors to areas outside traditional tourism hotspots and peak times," explained its Head of Product Development, Orla Carroll.

Púca is deliberately located in Ireland's Ancient East, and will play on the Irish origins of Halloween with "a spectacular festival of music and light complemented by rich harvest-inspired food experiences", Fáilte Ireland says.

In the old Celtic tradition, Samhain marked the end of the Celtic Year and was seen as a time of transition, when the veils between this world and the next were drawn back, and spirits could move to-and-fro between them.

‘Púca’, a character from Celtic folklore often associated with Samhain, was chosen as the name for the festival following consumer research in key markets, and the festival is expected to draw some 100,000 overseas visitors to Ireland, it adds.

It will have competition, of course - not least from the Spirits of Meath festival, Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin, and the hugely popular Derry Halloween.

Full programme details will be announced this summer.

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