Folklore

 

The Leprechaun figures large in Irish folklore. A mischievous fairy type creature in emerald green clothing who when not playing tricks spend all their time busily making shoes, the Leprechaun is said to have a pot of gold hidden at the end of the rainbow, and if ever captured by a human it has the magical power to grant three wishes in exchange for release.  The stories of Fionn mac Cumhaill and his followers, the Fianna, form the Fenian cycle. Legend has it he built the Giant's Causeway as stepping-stones to Scotland, so as not to get his feet wet; he also once scooped up part of Ireland to fling it at a rival, but it missed and landed in the Irish Sea — the clump became the Isle of Man and the pebble became Rockall, the void became Lough Neagh. The Irish king Brian Boru who ended the domination of the so-called High Kingship of Ireland by the Uí Néill, is part of the historical cycle. The Irish princess Iseult is the adulterous lover of Tristan in the Arthurian romance and tragedy Tristan and Iseult,

 

 

Snap-Apple Night by Daniel Maclise showing a Halloween party in Blarney, Ireland, in 1832. The young children on the right bob for apples. A couple in the center play a variant, which involves retrieving an apple hanging from a string. The couples at left play divination games.

Halloween is a traditional and much celebrated holiday in Ireland on the night of Oct 31.The name Halloween is first attested in the 16th century as a Scottish shortening of the fuller All-Hallows-Even, and has its roots in the gaelic festival Samhain, where the Gaels believed the border between this world and the otherworld became thin, and the dead would revisit the mortal world. Gaelic practices included; wearing costumes and masks that was an attempt to copy the spirits or placate them, large communal bonfires would hence be lit to ward off evil spirits, turnips were hollowed-out and carved with faces to make lanterns — also used to ward off harmful spirits, going from door to door guising — children disguised in costume requesting food or coins, playing games such as apple bobbing. Many of these traditional practices remain popular in Ireland on Halloween, and further contemporary imagery of Halloween is derived from Gothic and Horror literature (notably Shelley's Frankenstein and Stoker's Dracula), and classic horror films (such as Hammer Horrors). Mass transatlantic Irish and Scottish immigration in the 19th century popularized Halloween in North America.

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