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Inspire Your Daughter with Costumes from Irish History

This Halloween there will be an army of princesses hitting the streets in search of sweets, with no small number of witches and ghosts and ballerinas joining them.  Fairies, butterflies and a fair representation of the animal kingdom will be out as well.  But if you have a little girl who wants to embrace a stronger spirit while out gathering her Halloween loot and stand out from the crowd, it is time to start investigating some Irish Halloween costume ideas that will put her in touch with her Celtic roots.  After all, Ireland is the home of Halloween.

Photo courtesy of PDPhoto.org
Photo courtesy of PDPhoto.org

Originally known as Samhain, October 31st is the last day of the Celtic year, the day when the veil between this world and the spirit world is thinnest, allowing all sorts of spirits and ghosts to visit us.  And history has established we’re better off sweetening them up with some candy treats than letting them play any tricks.  If your daughter would like an Irish Halloween costume, and you are not about to let her out in her expensive Irish dance costume, here are some other options.

  • Grainne O’Malley: Is your daughter interested in pirates and frustrated with the lack of strong female pirates? O’Malley became chieftain of the O’Malley clan in the 16th century upon her father’s death, and her inheritance from him and lands she obtained from her first husband put her in a powerful position.  She is famous for invading and seizing Doona Castle and killing its owners the MacMahon family as revenge for killing her lover Hugh de Lacy.  She also met with Queen Elizabeth I to plead for the release of two of her sons and famously carried a dagger to the meeting and refused to bow before the queen.
  • Costumes2Countess Constance Markievicz: Suffragette and solider, the countess was a visionary leader who fought to free both women and Ireland from oppression. During the 1916 Easter Uprising, she was second in command at St. Stephen’s Green.  Although she was the first woman elected to the British House of Commons, as a nationalist she did not take her seat.  She later became one of the first female ministers when she was Minister of Labour in the new Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament) in 1919.
  •  Queen Mebh: If your girl is hoping to find a royal stronger than Anna and Elsa, how about the legendary Queen Mebh (aka Maeve)? The daughter of the High King of Ireland Eochaid Feidlech, Mebh’s first marriage was to the King of Ulster.  Her father had arranged the marriage, and Mebh wasn’t impressed.  When she left him, her father deposed the King of Connaught and Mebh replaced him.  Mebh was a modern woman, determined to have wealth equal to her husband’s, which is the starting point for the famous Cattle Raid of Cooley, also known as the Tain Bo Cuailnge.

Irish history and folklore offer many more options.  A banshee is far more frightening than a ghost, and if your little goblin is as determined to get her share of the goodies, she could take a wheelbarrow and go as Molly Malone!

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