No Tlachtga Samhain Fire Festival in 2017

Due to overwhelming support for the Samhain Festival of Fire and recent interest from an archaeological perspective, Tlachtga has experienced increased disturbance of the land and energy over the past few years. Coupled with the infrastructure of the site and public access, this has meant we have reached a point where decisions must be made regarding the future of the Festival.

At this juncture, it has been decided by the Friends of Tlachtga and Samhain Festival of Fire Volunteer Committees that there will be no Samhain Festival of Fire on Tlachtga this year. This is not a decision made lightly, especially as the event brings so much joy to so many at home and abroad. However, we must consider those who make the event what it is, i.e. the landowners and the visitors to the hill. Their health and safety are of primary consideration. We must also take into consideration the preservation of Tlachtga itself in lieu of it being protected as a site of national heritage, especially as this has always been at the forefront of our endeavours.

We owe it to you, the public to notify you as soon as possible of the changes for this year which may affect travel or holiday plans. We trust you will understand this decision and will continue to support our efforts to have this ancient site recognised as one of great importance in Irish history and a treasure to be protected.

At this time we are unsure as to whether an alternative event or celebration may take place elsewhere in Athboy on October 31st, 2017. This is a matter for the committees to consider and which would require the full support of Meath County Council and the wider community. Rest assured, we will be online actively asking you to bring the magic and spirit of Samhain to your communities in the lead up to the date. If we can help you achieve this please do not hesitate to contact us as we would be only too happy to impart our knowledge of the festival of Samhain and the history of Tlachtga as we understand it.

Our deepest thanks for your support over the past 17 years and in the future.

Friends of Tlachtga and Samhain Festival of Fire Committees, June 2017.

Tlachtga where the Great Fire Festival at Samhain was celebrated
Tlachtga where the Great Fire Festival at Samhain was celebrated

Samhain, the ancient Celtic Festival that we now call Halloween, originated at Tlachtga (Hill of Ward) more than 2,000 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, near Athboy, Co. Meath. The druids felt that this world and the otherworld were closest at Tlachtga and it was here that the festival of Samhain, or Halloween, was started. 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 and Loughcrew, and then on to light up the whole countryside.

The Irish and Scottish Celts who travelled to America, brought their traditions with them and popularised Halloween – it is now the second biggest festival in the western world.

Tlachtga (Hill of Ward) Samhain Fire Festival 2015

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