The Irish cave known as the Entrance to Hell – and the birthplace of Halloween

Ireland has long been the land of fairies and fairy tales. It is also the home of Halloween.

▶ Watch the video: Exploring Ireland for the origins of Halloween

Oweynagat, Ireland – Ireland has long been the land of fairies and fairy tales. It is also the home of Halloween.

There is something scary hidden among these hills. It’s green and lush – almost heavenly – but buried here is a portal to another world, another dimension. Some call it a door to hell.

“They named it in a medieval text like the Gate to Ireland or the Entrance to Hell,” said Mike McCarthy, tour guide and author.

It is also the birthplace of Halloween, or as the Irish call it, Samhain.

“Samhain is that night that borders summer and winter, it’s the night when traditionally the borders between this world and the next world are completely open,” McCarthy said. “So it’s not a place where you have to die to get to it.”

So down below we all go into the bowels of the Earth, with steady feet and brave hearts. Wet mud covers the walls while mud greases the path and smells like sulfur.

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For thousands of years, according to legend, this cave has housed Irish fairies, but not Disney’s. And woe to anyone who is surprised by someone who is unprepared.

“You weren’t supposed to go out on Samhain night, but if you were to go out you would dress up to disguise yourself as one of the beasts, demons, or monsters so you wouldn’t be recognized and wanted to not be taken away. through the cave and into the next world, ”McCarthy said.

And that’s the reason we wear costumes on Halloween, a tradition brought to America by the Irish in the 19th century.

Bill and Vicky from Colorado, who could be said to be obsessed with old vacations, visited Oweynagat.

Vicky laughingly described herself as the “queen of darkness”, coming to “rule darkness over everyone”. She joked that it was “like home” to enter the cave.

Seriously, the cave “just reminded me of Irish history and I tried to be a part of it”.

And while this story now has an American twist with trick-or-treat, jack-o-laterns, and of course the classic Halloween movies, the echoes of the past still stay with us.

“Customs in the United States has also helped preserve, disseminate and keep alive the idea of ​​Halloween and Samhain,” McCarthy said.

And if you find yourself traveling through this landscape beyond the Gates of Hell, remember one thing, bring a spare disguise – the mud is hard to remove.


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