Dancing through Darkness

I love this time of the year when golden afternoons on the mountain turn to silver evenings by the sea.

I love the smell of frost on the grass, the low light casting long shadows and the mist drifting low on the slopes of Mount Brandon.

Most of all I love the sense of warmth and nourishment that comes from the familiar round of each year's winter festivals.

As Halloween approaches, the house fills with the warm fruity smell of baking brack, the sharp tang of vinegar, and the satisfying sounds of onions, apples, and spices being chopped and ground up for chutney.

Wrapped up against wind and rain, we drive to Dingle to buy monkey nuts, then home again to pile them into a bowl on the bench by the fire.

Squelching between the ridges where the last of the potatoes are still waiting to be dug, I pull a knobbly green and purple turnip and carry it indoors, muddy roots and all, to carve into a lantern. 

On Halloween night it sits on the gatepost, banishing the darkness of Samhain and welcoming all the familiar ghosts returning to bless the house.

This was the night when the ancient Celts danced and sang through the darkness, lit bonfires high on the mountains, and shared the best of their food and drink with neighbours, strangers and friends.

It was a gesture of courage and confidence in the face of the dark months ahead. And a triumphant communal celebration of the certain return of Spring.


  1. This blog post is so rich & beautiful, it makes me feel like I am there! Love your sensory images and that turnip "jack-o-lantern". Can't wait to read your book! : )

    1. Thanks, Diane. Glad you like the turnip! (The rest of it went into a batch of chutney we made yesterday.) Hope you'll enjoy the book too. There are lots more photos on its Facebook Page if you' like to take a look sometime.

  2. What a beautiful post. Your blog makes me miss Ireland so much! Thank you for sharing and happy to connect with you on Twitter. :)

    1. It's lovely of you to comment, Sophie. Good to meet you on Twitter. I hope you'll get back to visit Ireland soon.

  3. A nice reminder that Halloween is an Irish festival and not, as I heard some people complain recently, something imported from America although unfortunately the old traditional customs and games are losing out to trick & treating and pumpkin pie!


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