Samhain is the most important time on the ancient Gaelic calendar. Taking place between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice it signalled not just the end of the harvest but the descent of the sun to the netherworld.
At this time of year, Donn, the lord of the underworld was free to unleash creatures from the world of the dead. On Samhain night the order of the world was thrown into chaos as the worlds of the living and dead became intertwined.
The fires of Tlachgha were the force which would bring light into the darkness. A light which would offer a safe harbour from the malevolent spirits and welcoming the good ancestorial spirits.
Tlachtga (the Hill of Ward) was at Samhain night the centre of the Gaelic world. The place from which the light of the new year would first emanate. The origin of all Irish culture ripples out from earthen mounds at Tlachtga and spreads all across the world. In modern times, we call this time of year Halloween.
On this Samhain night, we welcome you to join us as we continue the ancient ritual of Samhain atop the ancient hill, at the centre of the world, where the story of Halloween was born.
The Gathering will begin in Athboy’s Fair Green, located on the Trim Road (2o minute walk from the Hill).
Here you can prepare for your journey with free Celtic Facepainting.
There is no access to the Hill for anyone who has not left with the procession from the Fair Green.
The procession begins to the Hill of Tlachtga, the centre of the Gaelic world on Halloween. Where the ripples of time can be seen on this night.
Athboy is the center of the Halloween tradition. The old manuscripts tell us that a hill outside the town – Tlachtga – The Hill of Ward – was the center of the celebrations. It was an important meeting place, even down to the time of Cromwell. Lying 12 miles, as the crow flies, from Tara, it was at Tlachtga that the druids lit a fire from which all the fires in Ireland were rekindled. The king, watching anxiously from Tara was reassured when he saw the new lit fires blazing on the western horizon. All would be well for another year – the forces of Winter and death were conquered.
Today, at Tlachtga, you can see a series of massive earthworks – a central platform surrounded, almost uniquely in Ireland, by four massive ramparts. Evidence of substantial burning was also uncovered and troublingly the body of an infant – dated to the 5th century – was found buried at the bottom of one of the ditches – the nature of the burial suggests that it was part of a ritual.
All the elements associated with Halloween can be traced back to the mythology of the hill – this is the home of Halloween – the place where it all began.