Very superstitious: National Trust calls on the public to share their tales of rich local folklore amid growing interest
Northern Ireland is steeped in superstition and folklore and, as the nights draw in, the National Trust is calling for people to share their tales – from smoking giants who forecast rain, to blooming brooms that herald an early summer.
Many of our local myths are world-famous - the Leprechaun with his pot of gold and the screaming Banshee spirit who wails when someone is about to die.
Other myths and superstitions have travelled here from communities around the UK. Many people still refuse to walk under ladders, always throw a pinch over their left shoulder when they spill salt, or never put shoes on the table lest it leads to bad luck. And plenty of autumn and winter traditions are related to food and harvest.
Some of these traditions still make sense today, such as not walking under ladders, but in many cases the reasons behind the traditions and beliefs are being lost.
Trust staff say there is an increasing thirst for autumn stories and experiences beyond the modern Halloween offering. To help preserve them, the National Trust is asking people across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to share their stories.
The charity will use its findings to inspire local events and discovery experiences, adding to their autumn programme which is growing in popularity.
Jessica Monaghan, the National Trust’s Head of Experiences and Programming, says: ‘Autumn is a time when visitors are keen to discover and learn and our autumn programmes are growing in popularity all the time.
‘We can all see how much Halloween has captured the public imagination in recent years and our visitors are increasingly interested in the folklore and superstition that is attached to this time of year.
‘It’s a brilliant way into learning about the history of beliefs and traditions. Adults and kids have great fun with it and we want to provide many more experiences and activities in the future.’
Examples of current National Trust folklore-themed activities include Myths and Legends at Mount Stewart (26-31 October). From ancient Kings and Gods of the Sea to a magical Enchantress, Mount Stewart has many stories to tell this Halloween.
Ghosts and Gourds Spooktacular at Rowallane Garden (Saturday 19-20 October). See the garden come to life with mystical and magical myths inspired by local folklore.
Spooky Springhill (27-31 October). Visit the haunted house on the hill this Halloween. Little spooks can take part in the goose bumps kids house tour, explore the broomstick museum around the grounds and put their flying skills to the test at the witches and wizards’ school.
Halloween at The Argory (26-31 October). Visit The Argory Pumpkin Patch and explore the creepy critter and beastly bug trail around the estate.
Folklore and superstitions are a great way of gaining an insight into the past: what it was like to truly experience life in a particular time and place, and a way to evoke people’s fears and dreams.
By talking about and sharing our folklore we are creating new connections, new communities, and celebrating those ties we have to each other, and the places we live in.
People can share their tales by emailing [email protected] and joining the conversation on the charity’s social media channels @NationalTrustNI.