Celtic Myth & legend

Nos Galan Gaeaf - The Welsh Halloween Night

Welsh halloween

Calan Gaeaf is the first day of the winter and the old Celtic New Year. The night of Halloween October 31st is called Nos Galan Gaeaf in Welsh and it is when spirits and ghosts roam the land. In parts of Wales the ghosts such as the white lady (Ladi wen) would be seen on this night or the tail-less black sow (Hwch ddu gwta). Traditional celebrations on Nos Calan Gaeaf are rooted in pagan times and vary in different locations, including special foods and apples and the lighting of bonfires.

Ghost Tram - Manx Hop-tu-Naa (Halloween) Story


Manx scenery

In the dead of night on Halloween, people living close to the route of the Manx Electric Railway could hear the screech and grind of the tram as it made its way alongside the lower levels of the coastal hills. Those with sense and experience turned in their beds and pulled the covers tightly over themselves. No scheduled tram ever ran so late at this time of year. The sound was unmistakable; metal on metal, the crackling of electricity, straining breaks and the rhythmic pounding of wheel on track. Heard at an incalculable distance but able to pierce through the strong late autumn winds. Mingling with the creaking and straining of branches shedding leaves as the dark steadfast trees prepared for the coming winter. In the background the waves of the Irish Sea crashed against the rocks below. The natural noise of a normal Manx Autumn, with rolling mists and fast moving low clouds sweeping over cliffs, through valleys and into deep cut glens. Accompanied now by something entirely unnatural. At every stop on the tram's route came the shrill squeal of it's hooter. Echoing around the mist bound countryside alternatively sounding like the cry of an abandoned soul and a threatening screech. A bone chilling noise which seemed to convey a clear message 'board this tram if you dare'.

Irish American Halloween in South Jersey

One of the defining moments in my recalling the joys of childhood is Halloween. As I write this I am transported back into time as I recollect the excitement of the evening.

We rushed home from school on that magical day at the end of October to prepare our costumes and position ourselves, giddy with anticipation, at the front door awaiting sundown and then we were off on a night of mystery and enchantment.  As darkness fell we began our journey through the dimly lit streets. 

Festival of Samhain

Beltane Bonfire

The ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain (Halloween) was the start of the Celtic New Year. This is when the Druids lit bonfires marking a period of great danger to mortal souls. The bonfires were a warning that the laws of nature were suspended and the barriers between the natural order of things and the Celtic Underworld were dissolved, when the Underworld became visible to the living and the Fairies and the Dead would come forth.

The Children of Lir

The Children of Lir, Gardens of Remembrance, Dublin

Visitors to the Gardens of Remembrance (An Gairdín Cuimhneacháin) in Dublin are presented with the impressive sculpture by Oisin Kelly, the ‘Children of Lir’. This Irish Legend tells of the Clann Lir and the story is recounted in one of the cycles of Irish mythology. The Mythological Cycle looks at the Tuatha Dé Danann a magical race of people who came to Ireland from four Cities in the north. Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of Invasions) compiled in the 11th Century tells how they arrived in 'dark clouds'. These people were attributed with supernatural powers and Lir was a Sea God and father of the legendary Manannán mac Lir.

Fand, Queen of the Fairies

Fand is a Celtic sea goddess also known as Queen of the Fairies and wife of Manannán. Manannán mac Lir is a sea deity and referred to as the first ruler of the Manx Nation and very closely linked with the Isle of Man. He is usually associated with the Tuatha Dé Danann. The Tuatha Dé Danann is a race of Celtic people with supernatural abilities. They arrived in Ireland from four cities 'in the north' (thought to be Norway) where they learned their supernatural skills.


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