The wet and cold are settling in. September’s mix of rain and surprise sunny days is over. Farmers have gathered their last harvest, and by now everyone has their turf in for winter.
Fires are lit at night, filling the air with the smell of burning turf. Young people eager for Halloween are stashing away fuel for the bonfires and lighting fireworks. They’ve had weeks of school already, so are dreaming of the mid-term break. Big chain grocery stores and small shops are selling costumes and candies. Traditional barm brack fruit bread is on the shelves too.
October gave us people who shape how we see ourselves as Irish. Notable Irish people born in October excel at what we value in Irish culture. Poet, dramatist and wit Oscar Wilde, military leader and visionary politician Michael Collins and the beloved singer Joe Dolan from Mullingar share an October 16th birthday. Some brilliant Irish writers were also born in October, including Patrick Kavanagh on October 21st, 1904, Anne Enright on October 11th, 1962, and Emma Donoghue on October 24th, 1969. Actor Ardal O’Hanlon, famous for his role as Dougal on Father Ted, celebrates his birthday on October 8th. Christy Ring, the legendary hurler beloved by Irish sports fans, was born on October 12th, 1921. The artist Francis Bacon was born in Dublin on October 28, 1909. U2’s Larry McMullin celebrates an October 31st birthday.
Irish History and Happenings in October
Time and more recent battles in the fight for Irish independence have pushed one notable October event from our awareness today. On October 23rd, 1641, Catholic gentry staged what they hoped would be a bloodless coup d’état. It started well, because some leaders used forged documents to seize control of forts across Ulster. But eventually violence broke out. The rebels were concerned about anti-Catholic sentiment in England, and they wanted to secure their own right to practice their faith. At the time, the law barred Catholics from senior offices and high ranking military roles. Conflict continued until Oliver Cromwell arrived and massacred his way across Ireland. His assault weakened the island while strengthening the people’s resolve to be free.
Today, Halloween, the modern version of the ancient Samhain, is the biggest event in October in Ireland. In the run up to the big day, we have the Bram Stroker Festival from the 27th to the 30th in Dublin. The author of Dracula was born in Clontarf, Dublin, so the city celebrates all things spooky in his honor. But October isn’t only about scary things. The Wexford Opera Festival is one of the most high-profile events in the country, and it kicks off on October 19th this year.
If someone you love was born in October, you have a lot to celebrate. She might be an airy Libra or a passionate Scorpio, but odds are high she loves her birthstone the rosy tourmaline. Why not treat her to a piece of stunning Irish jewelry to celebrate her heritage and her birthday?