Teaching social media, Celtic tradition and stroking Matt Malloy’s grammy

Halloween in Ireland was as spooky as it gets! Angie and Peter live in a Southfork-style ranch on a sheep farm, fantastic in the day; eerily dark and bewitching at night.  No one trick-or-treats as the path from the road is long and windy, and the nearest neighbours are a short drive away down the 100kph road.  I wore my best witches hat anyway – any excuse.  The house has no wifi which is why I didn’t tweet my way through the evening. All social media was on hold but, strangely, the calm of the country kept me from stressing.


Ireland was far more beautiful than I’d given it credit for; Co Mayo is all lakes, mountains and farmland.  We drove to the base of Croagh Patrick, the site of an annual pilgrimage that sees over 15,000 visitors on one particular day in July – Angie can see it from her window when the mist rises.  One of my students had mentioned it last week.  I’m teaching basic computing at the college this term but most people want to learn social media – Facebook, in particular. Many of them are retired and so excited about the new world opening up to them; they can’t wait to post, like and tweet, or set up LinkedIn profiles.

In Matt Malloy’s bar in Westport we held his Grammys!  Stroking a gold plated gramophone is the closest I’ll get to a singing award and I would have liked to have slipped in quietly into my bag…  He spends most of his time there when he’s not touring with The Chieftains and he recorded a live session album from the stool where I sat.  The magic didn’t rub off on me; I’m forever placed at the opposite end of the tuneful spectrum. Still, one thing has changed: I drink Guinness now… oh, and I eat black pudding – I’m a whole new woman.

I know some people who hate Halloween and I agree that it’s been over-commercialised, but the fun element is simply that: fun.  The true Pagan meaning has been lost over time.  If you’re interested, it was originally linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, marking summer’s end and the beginning of the ‘dark half’ of the year. Medieval Gaelic tradition provides an invitation for the souls of the dead to revisit their homes to share a ghoulish feast, and it’s not mere fluke that places this night on the eve of All Hallows – the Christian festival to pray for the ‘souls of those departed but not yet in heaven’ was specifically timed to coincide. 

And very sadly, while we were stroking black cats and carving pumpkins, our friend passed quietly away.  Alan, you’re in heaven now, and I’m sorry we won’t be with the boys celebrating your life on Thursday.  We had happy times together, but what I’ll always remember the most is ‘a little more bite and a little less bark, a little less fight and a little more spark – close your mouth and open up your heart and baby satisfy me…’

Sshhh… follow me quietly today please @WeekendWitch.

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