The Editor’s Corner – Oct/Nov 2023

By Eoin Meegan

I ’ve just been thinking how in the last decade or so we’ve seen the proliferation of a new Halloween culture that has almost become an event in its own right, sometimes starting in September!  Perhaps it’s another American import – like the Big Mac! – who knows? I mean we always celebrated Halloween in Ireland, indeed we probably invented it, but it was very much confined to one night. In recent years, though, Halloween is enjoying a little niche all to itself. True it is one that involves all the family, and I’m not decrying it, just observing how it has taken on a life of its own. It’s like somewhere along the way it became a precursor to Christmas. The ghost and ghouls hanging from door frames now will be replaced in a few weeks time by benign Santas and upwardly mobile elfs; and the drab cobwebs hanging like soggy sacks from deciduous trees will magically transform into fairy lights streaming from very full, albeit artificial ones. 

Of course the two festivals share a common origin of sorts, in that both began life as great religious festivals. The one around the Christ Child born in a manger and the huge impact that was to have on Western civilisation, the other being the celebration of Samhain, one of the four pivotal festivals to mark the changing seasons in the Celtic calendar. Both are transmutations of a kind, a move from darkness into the light. The unifying constant I suppose is that both are child-centred. Perhaps we need to learn to see the world as we once did, through a child’s eyes. Not all wisdom comes with learning or age. Both festivals are important cultural milestones, signifiers of our human journey, even if today they are expressed in a more commercial form than we might wish.

In this issue we have an abundance of all things spooky. Our lead story unpacks the history and origin that is, by now the annual fright night in the locality, Dockers & Demons.  Elsewhere you’re invited into the amazing interactive DÉAD exhibition in the Goethe Institut celebrating two absolute masters of the macabre, Bram Stoker and Friedrich Murnau in the immersive marriage of book and screen; Dracula and Nosferatu (pg. 27). Another great expo which I’m looking forward to is Andy Warhol Three Times Out, at the Hugh Lane (pg. 26). One not to be missed for lovers of the man who changed the way we look at art forever. And if that were not enough we take you on a scary ride through Nighttown on the Dublin GhostBus (pg. 10), where you will be regaled with stories of hauntings and open coffins! And that’s before we even get to our spook-takular (had to get that in) collection of Halloween fav flicks (pgs. 16-17). Any room behind the sofa? 

So, have a lovely Halloween everyone, and as I say every year, fireworks are not toys; look after young children, see they are supervised, and keep pets indoors. Then everyone can have fun, which, after all, is what the season is all about.