In earlier days in Ireland eyes and a mouth were carved into turnips and a candle lit and inserted in the cavity of the turnip to create scary faces to be seen after nightfall.
These Jack-O-Lanterns take their name from an Irish myth about a man named Stringy Jack who annoyed the devil by tricking him for his own monetary gain. After Jack’s death the devil refused his soul entrance to hell and God refused his soul entrance to heaven, leaving him to roam the earth for all eternity.
These Jack-O-Lanterns made from turnips were to ward off the wandering Stringy Jack’s soul.
A 'GHOST TURNIP' from Fintown, County Donegal
"In 1943 the National Museum of Ireland received a turnip lantern from a schoolteacher, Rois Ní Braonáin who was teaching near Fintown, Co. Donegal. She stated that it was the type that was always made in that locality around 1900. This plaster-cast model was created and painted by the museum artist, Eileen Barnes."
"Halloween was the eve of all Saints day.
Long ago the people always had a big feast on that night. One of the old customs was for all the people to gather together and have a big feast and tell ghost stories about banshees and places that were supposed to be haunted. The feast consisted of poundies and wine. Then they swept the floor they boiled another pot of poundies and left them in the middle of the floor with wooden spoons around it and a crock of wine on the table, then they went home, some of them were very much afraid to do so as they thought they would meet ghosts or other things.
One man on his way home was going along a very lonely road when he saw a donkey lying on the road in front of him. He leaped over the donkey and away running up the road screaming, he met a crowd coming to see what was wrong they stopped him and asked him what was the matter, and he told them his Grandfather had come back to haunt him and that he was now on the road."
COLLECTOR: Andrew Wilkinson, Masiness, Co. Donegal
INFORMANT: Mrs Ann Mc Ginley, age 83, Kilmackilloo, Co. Donegal
"Another old custom was to get three saucers and to fill one with water, one with milk and to leave the other empty. Then those who were going to take part in this game were blindfolded and were to come in one by one and to touch a saucer. If they touched the one with the milk in it they would be married soon. If they touched the one with the water in it they wouldn't be married until a long while afterwards. But if they touched the one with nothing in it they would be old maids or bachelors."
COLLECTOR: Frances Gallagher.
INFORMANT: Mrs Hay, (Relation: Grandparent). Roosky, Co. Donegal
"There is said to be a ghost in Horn Head house called "the white lady."
One dark night the caretaker went up to the house and as he was fixing the books in the bookcase on the landing he heard a sound behind him and turning he saw a white lady coming out of the library. She was dressed in white from head to foot and she was dancing in the air., she flitted into the dining room.
No one saw this white lady but the care taker."
COLLECTOR: Dorothy Wilkinson, Masiness, Co. Donegal
INFORMANT: Ms W. T. Arnold, Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal.
"In olden days Halloween was a night of great festivity. One old custom was called "burning the nuts." The names of a girl or boy was given to each nut. If the nuts burned quickly, then there love would be good and true, but if they jumped or sizzled, then love quarrels would follow.
"Two hazel nuts I threw into the flame, And to each I gave a sweetheart's name."
Halloween has been called Nut-crack night, because people used to sit over the fire and crack nuts with their teeth and fling them in the fire.
Another old custom was called ducking for apples. With your hands tied behind your back you were to try to get an apple out of a dish of water.
Long ago it was the custom for a girl to take a candle and to put an apple in front of a looking glass. She would comb her hair at the same time, and do you know what was supposed to happen? She would see her future husband peeping over her shoulder!
Another common practice, was to light a big bonfire, just as we do on the Fourth of November. When the flames had died down they collected the ashes carefully and placed them in a circle. Then they each placed a stone within the magic circle. If before morning any stone was moved it meant harm to the owner.
Cakes called Soul Cakes were distributed on Halloween. These cakes were made from oaten meal, sugar, water or milk. The meal and water or milk were mixed together and a little sugar was added. They were then cut into squares and put on the griddle and left until they were hardened. They were then taken off and left on a window or some other place to cool. On receiving these the peasants prayed that the next crop might be blessed. Another kind of cake was shaped like a triangle and was to be eaten all through the night, so we suppose appetites in those days were very sharp indeed!
Long ago in the country districts the people boiled a big pot of potatoes and mashed them. Before going to bed that night they put on a big fire swept up the floor put the pot of potatoes in the middle of the floor. It was believed that the spirits of the departed people would come and sit on the chairs and eat the potatoes. Some of the people even put plates of potatoes on the table with wine or some other drink."
COLLECTOR: Frances Gallagher.
INFORMANT: Mrs Hay, (Relation: Grandparent). Roosky, Co. Donegal
"Many strange happenings occur on Halloween night. I heard this story about a man who went out one Halloween night to visit in a house about half a mile from his own.
When he was returning late that night he (thout) thought he heard noises in a field nearby and when he looked he saw a man dressed in red riding the nicest horse he ever saw and behind him he saw a number of other men riding horses and some of them were running and shouting to their leader to get them a horse.
Then the leader would pull a weed and immediately it would turn into a horse. The man hid behind a tree and watched them for a long time. Then he thought he would speak to them but when he went out of his hiding place he could see nobody."
COLLECTOR: Alice Flood, Killybegs, Co. Donegal.
INFORMANT: Mrs Flood, Killybegs, Co. Donegal
"A Ghost Story
During the summer of last year my mother went on a visit to my Aunt in Derry. She went to bed earlier than the others on her first night in Derry as she was feeling tired after her journey. She fell off to sleep immediately she got into bed, but when she was sleeping a little while she was awakened by a terrible hammering.
She called my Aunt and asked her what was the matter. When my Aunt came into the room she appeared quite unperturbed.
She told my mother that (they heard that) they heard that hammering every night.
She said it was the people in the next house who were working at something.
She said she spoke to them about (abo) it but they said that they were working at nothing during the night.
When my Aunt left the room my mother could not sleep.
She was lying with her eyes closed, when she thought she heard some-one breathing.
On opening her eyes she beheld a man dressed in a pair of working trousers. She asked him who he was, and he said he was killed in that room when the house was being built. He said nobody ever prayed to get him released from purgatory, where he was now suffering.
He asked my mother to get a mass said for him.
He promised never to return to the house if she would do as he asked.
The next morning my mother got the mass said and from that day up to the present nobody ever heard those noises in my Aunts house."
COLLECTOR: Philomena Parris, Killybegs, Co. Donegal
INFORMANT: Mrs V. Parris, Killybegs, Co. Donegal
"Strange Happenings on Halloween
One Hallowe'en night some years ago a man was walking home from a cross-roads dance near Killybegs. There were no motor cars at this time and the man was alone.
When he was passing over a small bridge he suddenly saw a carriage coming towards him. There were no horses or men visible, but still the carriage was moving along silently without any visible help or steerage. The carriage passed quite close to the man who was standing on the bridge watching in fascinated silence, but still he could not see any men on the coach or inside. When the carriage was about fifty yards away from him a sudden rattle of rifle fire burst from a hillside near at hand and received a volley in reply from the carriage.
The man on the bridge saw one of the men on the hillside suddenly throw up his arms and fall dead. When he looked at the spot were the carriage had been he saw that it had vanished. He looked at the hillside and saw that the men who had been there including the dead man were gone also. When he staggered home he told his wife
and son who had been anxiously awaiting his return,about the ghostly carriage and the men on the hillside, and they were amazed for they knew that he was a strong-minded man and would not imagine anything of the kind. Many years after that when the man was old and grey his son was killed by the Black and Tans in exactly the same spot where his father had seen the man fall."
COLLECTOR: Hugh O Donnell, Killybegs, Co. Donegal
INFORMANT: Mrs K. Gallagher, age 96. Address: Cashelcummin, Co. Donegal
"A Ghost Story
Ghosts are either the spirits of dead people or the old boy himself wandering about the world. Here is a ghost story.
One night a woman was coming home from the town with supplies. When she left the town it was quite dark. She had heavy parcels with her and her husband had promised to come to meet her.
After she had been walking a while she felt as if somebody was breathing beside her.
She turned round but she saw nobody. She continued walking and the breathing continued also. She began to get worried. She saw nobody coming or going on the road.
She went into a house and the breathing stopped but when she resumed her journey the breathing began once more. Then she saw her husband coming towards her. When he was about a hundred yards from her some heavy thing fell into the pool of water that was on the road beside the woman. The woman fainted. It was probably the old boy who was in it."
COLLECTOR: Patrick Boyle Killybegs, Co. Donegal.
INFORMANT: Mrs M. Boyle, Killybegs, Co. Donegal.
"A Ghost Story
In the parish of Killybegs there is a townland named Largy.
In this townland there was a yank who built a new house. She married a man and had children, but when they grew up they deserted the house.
Since then a light had been seen in the house and awful noises heard. But as soon as anyone goes within fifty yards of the house the light goes out and the noises stop.
No one has yet solved this mystery and if it is solved I will write a longer story.
When you knock the door does not open but a person in a white garment runs by the sitting-room window and disappears into the darkness."
COLLECTOR: John Murrin, Fintragh, Co. Donegal.
INFORMANT: Patrick Cunningham, Killybegs, Co. Donegal.
"There was a man living down in Glenties not very long ago. He was at a dance one night a long distance from his home.
When he was cycling home about two oclock in the morning he saw somebody some distance ahead of him.
It was a clear moonlight night. He cycled on until he came as far as her. When he was passing he spoke. The person had her head down and did not speak to him.
He kept looking at her and when he was past he saw she was wearing a dance frock and that it was a girl who was dead for ten years.
He cycled on and about a mile distant a great black dog jumped out from behind the ditch and attacked him.
The dog jumped at his throat and was tossing him off his bicycle. He managed to get away from him. He went very quickly trying to go home before he would overtake him again. He could hear the whining of the dog in the distance.
At the head of his own lane the dog overtook him again.
He managed to get in home and banged the door behind him. When he entered he fainted.
The people of the house were very much annoyed when they heard the story."
COLLECTOR: Peg Mc Cahill
INFORMANT: Mrs A. Mc Dyer (Age 40).
There were two youths one time and one of these youths was a Catholic and the other a non-Catholic. The non-Catholic's father was a Protestant Minister. The two youths were very good friends and both of them went away to school together.
The Catholic youth was going to be a priest and the other a minister. When they were on the train they said that they would toss a penny to see who would get the toss and which ever of them would get it would have to go with the other and it came to the Protestant youth and he had to go with the other youth to the Catholic school.
They did this because they did not like to leave each other. So he went to the Catholic school and went on to be a priest with his friend.
During this time his father or mother did not know this and when he came out a priest he came home on holiday.
It happened to be a Friday and when he came home they had a big dinner prepared for him. They had meat of all kinds. He did not want to take any soup and he said to the maid that he was going down to the room for a minute and he went down to the room and began to pray to God to send something while he was praying.
The maid went to the oven to get some soup and when she lifted the lid a black man spat on her face and the same thing happened to the mistress.
They called the son from the room to go for the minister but he said it was better to go for the Parish Priest.
When he came he said he could nothing unless they became Catholic's, that it was the devil that was in the pot and every one in the house turned to be good Catholic's."
COLLECTOR: Moira Molloy, Drumbeagh, Co. Donegal.
INFORMANT: Mr Molloy (Age 81). Killybegs, Co. Donegal