Halloween/ Samhain

Lack O the Lantern. Duchas.ie


There was once a man named Jackie the Cobbler and he was very fond of money.

He lived alone in a little house and spent his time repairing boots.
One time he was short of money and the devil knew that it was easy to tempt him,

so he called to his house and He said to Jackie, “what would  you do to get some money?”
Jackie said he would do anything in order to get it. 

"Would you sell your soul for it" said the devil. 

Jackie said he would if he got enough money.

 "I'll give you" said the devil "as much as you can use and I'll let you live 100 years if you come with me at the end of that time." 

“Very well” said Jackie. 

“Well” said the devil. “You must sign that bargain.”

 “I will” said Jackie, “but you must sign your part too, if you will give me three wishes and you must not know what they will be.”

 “Very well said the devil” - so they both signed the bargain and the devil went away.
Jackie kept on at his trade and he had lots of money for everything and he was not getting a day older looking. Things went on that way for nearly 100 years. Then the old people who

knew Jackie were surprised that he was so young looking all the time.
When the 100 years were up the devil came again to Jackie and said to him,

 "Jackie your time is up now you must come with me." 

“I know” that said Jackie,” but there is a great friend of mine here, that I am finishing a pair of shoes for. Will you wait till I am finished" 

"I will" said the devil.

 "Take your ease" said Jackie "and sit there for yourself while you are waiting." 


When the devil was sitting in the chair Jackie worked his first wish and stuck him to the chair. The devil knew he was held. He told Jackie to release him and promised he would let him live 100 years more and have more money than ever and be as young looking as ever, at the end of the time.
The devil went away very cross and told Jackie he would not fool him again. Jackie worked on at his trade for another 100 years. So when the time was up the devil came again. It was in the month of August and Jackie had a splendid orchard.


 The devil said to Jackie "it is a pity to be leaving them after you." 

"Tis" said Jackie "people say that the finest apples in the country are in it. "

 "We will take a few for the road so" said the Devil. When they went in Jackie worked his second wish. That the devil may stick to the tree. The devil knew he was fooled the second time. He asked him to release him again and he promised Jackie another 100 years and more money than he could spend. Jackie released him and the devil went away crosser than before. Jackie worked at his trade. He built a new house and had piles of money. One other chance he had only and he was very troubled for that 100 years.

So when the 100 years were up he knew the day the devil was to come and he had a sack bag prepared. The devil came and told him his time was up and asked him to come. Jackie said he was waiting for him. He took the sack with him and when they went about a mile of the road he told the devil he had very bad feet and if he would take him on his back for a bit it would be a great rest for him. The devil did at once as he was anxious to have him in his power. When he took him a mile he laid him down as he was getting too heavy. Jackie said he would take him down on his back for a while now so Jackie was thinking hard what he would wish the third time. By luck he came across a barn where there were men flailing corn. He took him in amongst the fellows who were flailing the corn and told them to flail the devil out of the bag and he would pay them well.
They drew their flails on him and the devil shouted to Jackie to let him escape and he would never again have anything to do with him. Jackie opened the bag and let him go and he went home himself and lived only one month. When he died he went up to heaven and met Saint Peter at the gate. Saint Peter asked him where he was going. Jackie said to Heaven. Saint Peter said "sure you sold your soul to the devil and you know anyone who had anything to do with the devil could not go to heaven. Go down now to Hell."
Jackie went to hell and kicked the big iron gate the devil asked who was there. He said "Jackie the Cobbler." The devil told him go away that he would not be let into Hell and he told the porter not to let him in or he would kill them all. 
So Jackie went the second time to heaven and Saint Peter asked him where was he going again and Jackie said he would not be let into Hell. So Saint Peter "you will not be left in here either, but wait for a few minutes till I come back." He went away and brought back a lantern and handed it to Jackie and told him to go round the world fooling people like himself was fooled till the end of time. 


Collector; Sheila Ryall, Co Kerry.  


Jack O the lantern

Winter Inks

I love to be creative over the winter months, and lucky for us the Shaggy ink caps are out and about and ready to make ink.

Simply leave the ink caps at any stage of growth in a bowl for about a week, do not add anything and hay presto, as if by magic the mushroom evaporated, leaving the stem and a plateful of black ink, remove or sieve all the solid matter and store in a jar, Add some vodka if you want to preserve it for a long time. 

In forest school we also made some Oak apple Ink, which id the gall wasp nests left on the ark trees, Only use after the gall wasp has drilled a hole out of the nest and left. The galls usually fall to ground around then. Then crush up the gall and leave in a jar with water and a metal nail, this helps the process.

We also used turmeric powder and water to make a lovely yellow paint.


Using the same inks, we made Halloween masks with the younger group, the Little Twigs. Attaching dried leaves using a stapler and you can either use a stick to hols the mask or attach some elastic to wear it. 

Here is a link for Templates, of a fox, wolf, deer and owl masks. 

Halloween Games

Apple string Game: Tie string onto the apple stack and tie into a tree or as we used to in the past onto a door frame. Keeping hands behind your back try to take a bite from the apple.

Apple Bobbing: Fill a deep bowl or bucket with water and add some apples, with hands behind back try to bite the apple out. 

Find the money: Fill a bowl with flour or water and add some coins to the bottom of the bowl, again with hands behind back try to retrieve the money using your mouth. 

The Cailleach

The ancient Irish Hag or modern day witch was know as the Cailleach, Here is a story of her and her Candel of Death.

Rock of the Candle  

A few miles west of Limerick stands the remains of the castle and tower of Carrigunnel, over-looking the River Shannon. The ivy now creeps around the broken tower holding the ancient stones in place. 

The castle was built on a gigantic rock with the remnants of an old tower that was once the home of an old Hag called Grana.

Grana was gigantic in size and frightful in appearance, her eyebrows grew into each other in a grim curve and beneath their matted bristles, deeply sunk in her head was two grey eyes that darted forth baneful looks of evil. From her deeply wrinkled forehead issued forth a hoked beak, dividing two shrivelled cheeks, her skinny lips curled and with a cruel and malignant expression and her prominent chin was studded with bunches of grizzly hair.

Death was her sport. Every evening she would like an enchanted candle upon the rock and whomever should look upon it would die before sunrise. Numberless was her victims, over which Grana rejoiced when one by one the returned to the soil like the winter sun. 

People moved away from the area in fear of the Hag of the Rock and the land became wild and lonely for centuries, Until the Fianna of Erin, the avengers of the oppressed became known though out the land and abroad for their noble deeds. Fionn sent Regan the task of destroying the Hag and gave him a cap thrice charmed by the magician Luno of Lochlin. 

With the star of the same evening the Candle of death burned on the rock and Regan stood below, if he caught the slightest glimmer of its blaze he too would perish before the mornings dawn and Grana would rejoice over his corpse. 

When Regan looked towards the light of the enchanted cap fell over his eyes and prevented him from seeing.

The rock was steep, but Regan climbed the craggy side and before the Hag knew, Regan had seized the candle and flung it into the River Shannon, the hissing water quenched the light for ever.

The cap lifted over Regan’s eyes so that he could see again, just in time to see the outstretched arms of the enraged Hag ready to grab him and throw him into the Shannon after the candle. 

Regan took a gigantic leap and landed two miles away, Grana tore up a huge fragment of the rock and threw it after him, breathing heavy like the bellows of a smith. 

The rock landed short of Regan and harmless he returned to Fionn and The Fianna to rejoice.

The Hag Grana was never heard of again, but the stone remains and on it are imprinted the mark of her fingertips. 

The stone is Far taller than any Human alive today and it would take the power of forty men to move it, the rock today is still called ‘Clough -a- Regun’ to preserve the memory of all who died.

 Fairy Legends and traditions of the south of Ireland. T.C Croker. oxford 1828-p280

The Cailleach, the hare and Fionn Mac Cumhal  

One day the hero Fionn Mac Cumhal the leader of the mighty warriors of the Fianna, went hunting with his Dog Bran and they spotted a very unusual  looking Hare. This Creature had fur of Silver shining brightly on one side and the other side shining brightly of Gold. Bran took chase of the magic Hare and Fionn after them till they arrived in the Slieve Gullion Mountain range in the county of Ard Macha/ Armagh.                                 


Eventually the  Hare disappeared down a hole in the mound and Bran after it, a few minute later Bran returned with his hair on backwards, where it normally flowed in the direction of head to tail, this time it flowed upwards from tail to head. Fionn immediately suspected Sorcery and was about to turn and leave when he heard crying coming from the lake beside them. He turned around and there by the water’s edge stood a beautiful young Women with tears in her eye.

“What is the matter, Fair Maiden” He asked.

She explained that she had lost her golden ring in the lake and Fionn promised to find it. 

He jumped into the lake three times to search and on the third attempt he rose to the surface triumphantly. He handed the maiden her Ring and as he did, she took and held his hand. Fionn immediately turned into a withered old man, with a bending back and long white hair and with that the Maiden disappeared into the mount of Sieve Gullion.


The Fianna started to get worried about Fionn as he did not return to the Hill of Alumhuin where they lived, and they went in search of him. Eventually they saw an old man by a lake and thought he was a fisherman until they recognised the Hound, Bran. Bran ran up to them and they noticed the unusual laying of his hair and made a connection that magic was at play and that the old man was Fionn.

Fionn told them the whole story and how the Hag had disappeared into the mound, which has no way in or out. The fianna started to dig into the mound and shovelled huge handfuls of Earth from the hill, when the Cailleach appeared to them and promised to turn everything back as it should be, if they stopped digging her Sidh Mound. The Fianna agreed and she gave Fionn and Bran a bottle to drink, when all the liquid was finished they turned back to their normal selves, except for Fionn, whose hair stayed long and white and remained that way for the rest of his life.


Traces of the elder faiths of Ireland; a folklore sketch; a handbook of Irish pre-Christian traditions by Wood-Martin, W. G. 1902 p391