Púca Festival: Ireland’s Neo-Pagan Revival

Updated: Aug 16, 2019

Fáilte Ireland, along with two county Councils, Meath & Louth, are funding a festival of events to take place over 3 days from 31st October to 2nd November 2019. The festival named Púca is aimed at promoting Ireland as “the birthplace of Halloween”1 on an international level.

What is the Púca festival & its itinerary?

Fáilte Ireland is “the brainchild”2 behind this event, describing it as a “spectacular fun & other worldly new festival celebrating Ireland as the original birthplace of Halloween…vibrant & contemporary but strongly rooted in tradition”.3 Fáilte Ireland state that “Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic tradition of Samhain”.4 Orla Carroll, a director of Fáilte Ireland interviewed by the Journal.ie said that Halloween in Ireland is different than in other countries “it’s about the origins, it’s about the spirits…that ancient New Year”.5

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Púca Partners on their website announce the festival as “A spectacular festival of music and light complemented by rich harvest-inspired food experiences, Púca will celebrate a time when light turns to dark, the veil between realities draws thin, rules can be broken, and the spirits move between worlds. Over three spectacular nights, across three festival locations we salute the Halloween spirits through folklore, food, music and light up the night sky with awe-inspiring and unearthly illuminations. Join us where Halloween's story begins”.6

The festival begins on 31st October in Athboy with “a symbolic lighting of the Samhain fires”.7 The Hill of Ward (Tlachtga) is the historic place where the great fire was lit on Halloween (Samhain). The organisers of this event invite you “to continue the ritual of Samhain at the ancient hill & join us for a historical & spiritual procession…”8

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Trim Castle venue promises “a wicked & unholy night of Halloween entertainment”9, while Drogheda will host art & music telling of folklore & spirits.

Of great concern is the following: On Friday 1st November as part of the Púca festival Drogheda will host the film Häxan in Drogheda Arts Centre. Below is the entire description for this film found on Eventbrite website:

“With vivid depictions of witch persecutions and medieval sorcery Benjamin Christensen’s Häxan (The Witches) is a legendary silent horror. Once banned in the USA and unseen for decades, Häxan (dir: Benjamin Christensen, 1922) blends horror, documentary, animation and woodcuts to paint a lurid picture of witchcraft through the ages. Featuring the director himself as a disturbingly Grinch-like Devil, the film immerses us into a world of torture and superstition while suggesting that witch persecution was a medieval response to mental illness. For this special PÚCA Festival screening a new score has been created by Dublin-based musician Matthew Nolan who has produced new music for several award winning Irish films including Exile in Hell, Runners and Somewhere Down the Line. Suitable for 15+.10

Halloween: A Catholic Feast Becomes Grotesque

Historical background: Samhain (Halloween) in Irish Celtic paganism

Samhain was a Celtic festival predating Christianity. The Celtic people regarded it as the division of the year between summer & winter, light & darkness, when the spirits could pass through from the otherworld. It was a time of turbulence & danger. John Gilroy in ‘Tlachtga: Celtic Fire Festival’ describes Samhain as a time when “the lord of the underworld…now walked the earth & with him travelled all the other creatures from the abode of the dead”.12 Samhain was the feast of the dead. The Púca was the name of a mischievous or evil spirit “a demon or fairy horse…a cross between a goat & a horse”.13 Superstitious practices took place. Lighting fires to the sun god such as the great fire on Tlachtga & dressing up in gruesome costumes with masks to ward off evil spirits along with rituals & food offerings to spirits took place. Gilroy states that divination was “an important part of everyday life…& formed a central part of the festivities at Tlactga”.14

Spiritual dangers this festival poses & its conflict with our Catholic faith

There is a striking correlation between the Púca festival events & the pagan celebration of Halloween. The festival is loaded with spiritual malaise. Fáilte Ireland is clear in showcasing Púca that it is ‘about the origins…the spirits’. The ritualistic implications such as the spiritual procession to Tlachtga, saluting the spirits through food & folklore, dressing up in macabre costumes & masks (as seen in promotion photos) & the screening of Häxan, a satanic film about witches is paganism dressed up for the 21st Century. The First Commandment “I am the Lord your God…you shall not have strange gods before Me” Ex.20Vs 2-3 is broken & is replaced by false gods such as the Púca, divination etc.

People need to understand and be warned that paganism is not an alternative lifestyle or religion. The Púca festival appears to be an initiation ceremony into the occult. There is real danger of being opened to demonic spirits by taking part in pagan rituals. Fáilte Ireland & partners