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The modern celebrations of Halloween are derived from the traditions of the British Isles and no doubt similar traditions around a festival of the dead existed throughout Europe.
More than anything, the modern celebrations are influenced by the importing of North American practices, which are themselves the distortion and adaptation of customs exported to the New World, primarily by the Irish and Scottish emigrants.
Most people have some awareness of the origins of the fire festival of Samhain, the time that is known in common parlance as Halloween.
The rulers of the intermittent kingdom of Mide also sat here, although Tlachtga is often associated with the province of Munster and the medieval kingdom of Brega.
Ceremonies centred around the lighting of the winter fires are said to originate from Lugh Lámfhota, (the Tuatha De Dannan hero of the second battle of Moytura and later high king) around 1450BC.
There are three wells within a few hundred metres of the site, one near the main road from Athboy (Atha Buí) is relatively modern but is perhaps fed from the older nearby well also to the west.
To the south lies a more ancient and much larger well that retains its old name Tobar Draoithe or “The Druids’ Well”, which most likely was the main well associated with and used for practices at Tlachtga.
It was disturbed in 1641 during Cromwell’s invasion but has never been properly excavated, although it has been suggested that there is a barrow burial there, probably dating from the Bronze Age.
The person who is buried at Tlachtga is most likely an important figure, perhaps even a king or queen, but that will remain a mystery until a proper archaeological dig takes place.The sunrise and moon rise at Samhain form an alignment from Tlachtga, to the quartz standing stone in Cairn L of Loughcrew (Slieve na Caileach/Sleive Bearra) and Lambay Island (off the coast of Dublin).Interestingly, the Mound of the Hostages (at Tara) is also illuminated by the sunrise at Samhain.Indeed the Báirín Breac (fruit loaf) containing a mock wedding ring is a survival of such customs and is still commonly eaten in Ireland today.Trickery, cross dressing – particularly of young boys to confuse potential thieves among the sidhé was common.Apple bobbing is again a descendant of earlier apple games, apples being a clear link to the otherworld in Celtic mythology.Sacrifice – the slaughtering of animals at this time was highly practical but it is also a time when offerings were made to the gods to ensure the return of the vital forces in nature and to protect the people and their means of survival through the dark and harsh winter months.Funeral games and divination – This was also a common time of divination and prophetic vision Eachtra Nera again being a prime example, Nera sees a vision of the possible events of the Samhain a year hence, an attack on the king’s dún (residence) by the sidhé (fairies).This was common time to play divinatory games or perform divination charms, particularly related to marriage or love.Tlachtga was on the horizon from Tara, some 12 miles away, perhaps the Tara fire was lit once the Tlachtga was seen or the fire was brought from Tlachtga to Tara, possibly by boat and Loughcrew (Sliabh na Caillíghe) afterthat.Many Druids in Ireland believe this to be true, although this is impossible to prove, and re-enact it yearly.