Blackrock Tidy Towns, County Louth sponsored a wonderful occasion for local families in their newly created Children’s Wildlife Garden next to the Blackrock Playground.

Samhain or ‘summer’s end’ was celebrated during the Halloween school holidays on November 2, 2011. ┬áThe event, marking the Celtic New Year, was filled with stories, songs, customs and poetry associated with the final year’s harvest. Local parents supplied hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies, which everyone enjoyed on the day.

To mark the occasion a willow storyteller’s seating area was created, which was honoured with a local storyteller’s presence. Bluebells and wildflower seeds were also planted, symbolising the growth of new flowers within the darkness of winter. The children also made ‘parshells’, willow crosses woven with wool for placing over the doorways of their homes for protection against sickness and ill-luck.

Two small fires were lit during the occasion to synbolise the end of the previous agricultural year and the beginning of the new Celtic growing year. Children wrote down their unhappy experiences from the previous year and threw them into the old year’s fire. They then walked to the fire of the new year and threw in dried herbs and wild plants. The smoke of the fire traditionally represented protection, warmth and new growth for the upcoming year. Each child then held a rock, with the words, “greatness lies within everyone’ and reflected upon their own goodness, before making a wish for the traditional beginning of the Irish new year.