Discover Boyne Valley - Birthplace of Samhain
Samhain, the ancient Celtic Festival that we now call Halloween, originated here in Co. Meath in the Boyne Valley more than 3,000 years ago.
Samhain marks the end of the old Celtic Year and the beginning of the New Year. The Celts believed that this was a time of transition, when the veil between our world and the next came down, and the spirits of all who had died since the last Oíche Shamhna (Night of Samhain) moved on to the next life.
One of the main spiritual centres of the ancient Celts was located on top of the hill of Tlachtga, now called the Hill of Ward, one mile east of Athboy, Co. Meath. The druids felt that this world and the other world were closest at Tlachtga and it was here on the festival of Samhain, that the sacred fire was kindled and Halloween started.
It was custom of the Druids to assemble on Tlachtga on the eve of Samhain and that a fire was lit on which offerings were made. The old year’s fires were extinguished and, after sunset, the ceremonial New Year Samhain fire was lit here. Torches were lit from this sacred fire and carried to seven other hills around the county including Tara, Loughcrew and then on to light up the whole country side.
Today, the old Celtic ceremony at Tlacghta has been revived and we mix the ancient past and the twenty-first century with a re-enactment of the Celtic celebration starting with a torch lit procession from the Fair Green in Athboy, Co. Meath to the top of the Hill of Tlachtga each year.
Listen to some wonderful audio on the Hill of Ward & Rathmore Church, Athboy, County Meath - Part of the Boyne Valley Drive