The Ghost Turnip & other Hallowe'en traditions

Scary lanterns were made using potatoes and turnips. This is a model of a Hallowe’en ‘ghost turnip’ taken into the Collection in 1943 from Fintown in Co Donegal. NMI Collections DF14176.
© National Museum of Ireland

Visitors to the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life in County Mayo, can see the now infamous (thank you Twitter!) Ghost Turnip, the precursor to the Hallowe’en pumpkin.

Clodagh Doyle, Keeper of the Irish Folklife Collection, explains how in the past, people believed that on Hallowe’en night the spirits of the dead would be on the move through the countryside.

This belief led people to carve lanterns from turnips (and sometimes potatoes) and to make masks for a disguise to trick or ward away any malevolent spirits.

You can find Clodagh’s top ten spooky Samhain traditions on the museum website here

In this short video  Clodagh explains the origins of these scary lanterns

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