As a country steeped in myth and legend, it’s little surprise that stories and sightings of haunted apparitions abound in Ireland. “Even the ancient Romans were aware of the spooky tales of Ireland,” Dan says. “They conquered most of Britain but never invaded here. Perhaps they were too scared?”
As for Dublin itself, the city’s experience during the plague has left an indelible mark, something that the Gravedigger Tour highlights. “It is believed that the Dublin suburb of Tallaght gets its name from the Irish word Tamhlacht, which means 'plague monument,' after some long forgotten prehistoric pestilence,” Dan says. The Black Death, or Bubonic plague, tore through Ireland from 1348 to 1350, and between a quarter and a third of the population are believed to have died. That adds up to a lot of restless souls.
And then there are the grave robbers and body snatchers. “Prior to the Anatomy Act of 1832, medical students often had to use illegal means to get their hands on human cadavers,” Dan says. This, naturally, ushered in the practice of grave robbing.
Finally, he adds, Halloween may have been popularized and commercialized in the US, but it owes its origins to the Gaels. “Halloween was originally a pagan ancient Irish festival called Samhain, meaning 'end of summer.' It originated in Ireland around a thousand years ago, which is why so many Halloween traditions are Irish. For instance, Jack-o-lanterns were originally carved out of turnips. When the Irish emigrated to America, they adapted the tradition and used pumpkins instead.”