As a lover of all things that go bump in the night, visiting Ireland — Dublin, specifically — near Halloween was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I have made…my only regret is not shelling out the extra cash to be there on Halloween itself!
While there, my boyfriend and I tried to find the creepiest and most interesting attractions we could while not tasting various whiskeys. Although these are not the creepiest things we could find, they were absolutely three of our most favorite destinations. And don’t worry! Just because Halloween has passed doesn’t mean you can’t find these destinations on your next trip to the land of Ire!
A Night of Food, Faeries and Folklore
Hosted at Dublin’s oldest pub, The Brazen Head, this attraction features a full evening of food, entertainment and merriment. To begin, guests choose their own three-course meal and are invited to order drinks. Between each course is either a segment of storytelling or a spell of live Irish folk music that encourages guest interaction. The latter got quite loud as the room immersed themselves in the moment, but we had to be careful about stomping our feet so not to disturb the patrons below — it was quite a feat to be done!
Our host, Philip, spun fantastical tales deeply rooted in Irish folklore including stories such as Balor of the Evil Eye and, one of my favorites, Brian O’Donnell of Corbally. His storytelling was simple, yet captivated the audience beyond any other performance I’ve come across. In fact, we were so enraptured by the end of the night that a good 10 seconds remained silent after Philip’s last words; every person in that room was on the edge of their seats not wanting the night to end. This experience was hands-down the most thrilling event of the trip!
At the end of this article, you can find a short list of books recommended by Philip himself.
The National Leprechaun Museum Dark Land Tour
Leprechauns are far more than cereal-loving cartoons or cheesy horror icons, and this tour made sure we knew that! By day, and throughout most of the year, this museum is an eclectic and interactive walk through the history of leprechaun lore. But by night on the weekends near Samhain, the creeps come out at night to delve into the darker aspects of these tales. Before the tour began, our guide, Naoise, explained that children are not permitted on this after hours excursion because apparently they aren’t fond of tales involving murder, deceit and incest — understandable.
Immersed in the environments of the stories told by Naoise, it was easy for audience members to get pulled into every word. This was especially true because Naoise was in a quirky character while spinning these colorful tales. From a small Irish cottage to a room centered around a pot of gold, the stories became progressively darker throughout the museum. My personal favorite room was the last stop of the night — a dark, foreboding, enchanted forest where the legend of the Banshee is dramatically told. Lovers of dark folklore and immersive environments will adore this tour, but plan well! Dark Land tours only happen during one time of year!
The Cauldron Pub
Believe it or not, this destination was not on our original itinerary! We simply happened upon it while exploring Temple Bar our first night in Dublin! As an avid fan of Harry Potter and most other things witchcraft related, there was no way I was going to pass up this opportunity.
When entering the pub, you are issued one wand per couple and one black robe per person. The wand is interactive, which means it helps you open locks and bring your potions to life! Yes, potions. Aromatic, alcoholic potions brewed by yours truly. Of course, you’re provided a house made potion to kick off your class, which will be poured from the mouth of a unicorn, a lion or a serpent. How in the name of Merlin can you pass that up?
So, there you have it. When in Dublin, especially near Halloween, be sure you check out these spooky local experiences! But beware — you wouldn’t want to upset a fairy or leprechaun while there!