Aerial performer, Polina Shapkina from Broken Theatre with Claire Morrissey from Kildalkey at the launch of Púca Festival in the Swift Cultural Centre, Trim. Photos: Barry CroniN

VIDEO: Upcoming Púca Festival’s €3m boost for the county

The Púca Festival has not just grown annually, it’s leaping ahead every year, Failte Ireland’s head of festivals and events said in Trim last week.

At the launch of the 2023 festival at the Swift Cultural Centre, Ciara Sugrue said that the “international interest in the event is far beyond what they would have imagined it would be at this stage.”

The five-day Halloween festival is projected to bring a revenue of €3 million into the local economy, described as an economic driver for communities and business across the region.

A number of new features have been added to this year’s event which are really exciting, she promised, including new opening and closing processions.

“Failte Ireland did a lot of research going back to 2016, and recognised that there was a real opportunity in Ireland to be the birthplace of Halloween, and we had to take ownership of what is now a globally celebrated holiday,” she explained.

They decided to put on an amazing event based on deep heritage and culture, when tourism is in a ‘shoulder season’, that can really deliver for a local area, bringing not just international visitors, but those from across the country too. All the events and activities are inspired by themes of identity, landscape and language to connect visitors to the ancient past, and the festival will strengthen Ireland’s profile as the home of Halloween, right here in Meath, she said.

Martin Nolan of MPI Artists, co-director of the festival with Anne O’Brien, revealed some of the details of the opening and closing processions in Trim and Athboy respectively, and highlighted the role of Kildalkey woman Claire Morrissey in these. There will be wolfhounds, massive structures and live music in the opening procession in Trim, and in Athboy, the ceremony will see the lighting of four sculptures, signifying the hills of Tlachtga, Tara, Loughcrew and Uisneach.

As well as the music events, there will be an expanded food and craft harvest market at the Porchfields, interactive experiences with workshops such as baking neolithic bread, and a wood sculpture where everyone can make a piece for it.

As Halloween is about connecting with our ancestors, there will be an opportunity to write notes to them which will be burned within a sculpture in Athboy, he explained.

A shuttle bus will run between the two towns.

Meath County Council chief executive Fiona Lawless said that last year’s festival brought 36,000 visitors to Meath, and brought over €3 million into the economy, with 12 international tour operators and 40 international media representatives in the county during the week. She said the opening of the new Swift Centre in Trim would anchor the festival in the county for the future.