Macnas Giant Puppet Halloween Parade

Parade of the Macnas as part of the Bram Stoker festival. @bramstokerdub @macnasireland #parade #festival #dublin #ireland #bramstoker #macnas #puppet #rain #autumn #halloween #warewolf #crow #raven #stag #deer

For the last few years, Dublin City has hosted the Bram Stoker Festival. This is a week long festival that runs right before Halloween and celebrates everything about Bram Stoker and books like Dracula. As time has gone on, the festival has rolled into a week long celebration of Creepyness, horror, Vampires, and anything to do with Halloween and spooky Samhain tales. The best part of the festival is that most events are free.

This year, there was a parade that started from 3 different locations in the city center, all converging on Wolf Tone Square, behind the Church Bar & restaurant in the city center. Each segment of the parade included a different giant animated “puppet” on wheels, a band / musicians, and a following of the watchers from the segment of the Parade. The parade spectacle (puppets) are owned by Macnas – an Irish performance company out of Galway. When I saw the preview, I thought:

Who doesn’t love puppets?

and Had to go. From their website at:

The Macnas were designed to tell a story – of “Danu, Goddess of the Divine and Dark: brutal and beautiful, warrior and mother, hallowed and holy, she protects and provokes, takes flight and goes underground.
Mummers and drummers follow and seek. Demons and angels love and loathe, the dead dance and the living transform. Men become gods, fools become Kings, souls are sanctified, reptiles are rarefied and the city streets transform as the journey unfolds.”

Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015

Thus it was that B and I left work, took the bus to town and then proceeded down Mary Street in the pouring rain. After waiting nearly 1.5 hours (ok we did go shopping to pass the time) we were quite soaked (even with our umbrellas, as you can see above) but filled with excitement as we could hear the pops and bangs of the fireworks, feel the drumbeat and marching from up the street… and then… to our delight, the festivities began. Closer and closer they came…

Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015

Perched at the T junction, we were in the perfect spot. First came the giant Raven (Never more!) flapping his wings and moving his head… and accompanied by a blaring brass band in a cage. Below them were people dressed as various creepy characters like lizards and chameleons… all dancing to the music.

Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015

Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015

Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015

As they passed and turned to go into the square, we looked to our left to discover the next segment of the parade was headed our way…. The Giant Stag… was coming up, followed by gnomes, witches and ghouls!

Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015

Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015

Finally, from the third point up Mary Street came the sound of drummers *thud* *thud* *thud* and out of the crowd appeared a giant Wolf and the Devine Danu, a nearly 4 story tall female puppet whose head turned, hands and feet moved, and eyes blinked to survey the swirling crowd around her.

Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015

Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015

Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015

Moving eyes, hands, feet on Danu.

Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015 Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015 Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015

Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015

We followed Danu and the Stag into the square (the weather still being bleak and rainy) over puddles and muddy packed dirt and up onto some benches where we could see the party begin. Dancers with fire lit torches swirled, The lizard and chameleon costumed individuals pulsated around the crow, and the gnomes and witches made wise cracks next to the giant horned Stag.

Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015
Dancing beasties

Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015
Gnomes and Witches

As the music reached a cacophony of sound and colored flashing lights moved with the party spectacle suddenly there was a pause… A flare was lit… and then….

Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015


Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015

From the top of the buildings in the square, a series of white fireworks shot into the sky to the oohs and ahhs and cheers of the crowd. Halloween week in Dublin has begun!

Giant Macnas puppet Parade 10.26.2015

*Special thanks to the Bram Stoker Festival for sponsoring the free event, and Macnas performance company for really making the spectacle special!*


St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Ireland


March 17th in Ireland is a huge Day. It’s a day of National pride as not only is Saint Patrick the patron saint, it’s also an “unofficial” day to celebrate all things Irish. Everyone gets in on the act – from kids to adults, businesses and private homes alike. The day is one of great festivity.


For my first St. Patrick’s Day, I decided that I had to go to one of the biggest celebrations – nearly half a million people turn up – and see the Parade in Downtown Dublin – with the city turning into a mass of people all dressed in green,orange, and white.

The Aftermath of 200,000 from the parade.. a flood of green

All my life I’d heard how crazy the party was and how great the Parade was, and while it wasn’t what I was expecting (I was thinking something more along the lines of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City or the Rosebowl Parade in California), it was still a very spectatular event.

Hanging above the street… she performs with no net.

For comparison, the parades in the states have huge floats and giant balloons that float over the city and the spectators down below. The Parade here has some large floats – but mostly it’s about the color and the people participating in the parade. You can’t quite get the blimp or helicopter views like you can in the states – but it’s a stunning event just the same – because as a parade watcher – you’re just as much a part of the spectacle as the Parade itself. This year, there were some 4000 street performers most in costume – and many of whom were from the Dublin School of Art and Design (this was their final project, can you imagine!!!).

(One of many representations of the “black dog”)

This year’s Parade theme was based on a competition to write a short story – the winner was Booker Prize winning author Roddy Doyle’s story “Brilliant”. (You can read the story here) The story is about how all of Dublin was depressed due to the recession and how the “black dog of depression” needed to be chased away by a group of well meaning children. As they race about the city’s famous landmarks and places, they encounter fantastic characters and eventually (chapter by chapter) bring back sunshine, rainbows, and happiness to the people of the city.

So, how about a few pictures? You can see more of the flickr set here.





Check out the makeup!

At the end of the Parade, The Phoenix Carries off the Black Dog… and the city re-emerges anew


Leprechaun Museum Trip


I like living in Dublin. It’s a new city, and that means all kinds of new things to explore and do. When I can get a discount like I did last month from one of the online deals websites, I tend to jump at the chance to go out and explore my new home a little bit more. One of the more recent daily deals was for the National Leprechaun Museum, for half price.


Waiting to get into the museum

The thing is that I had 2 tickets, but I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to “borrow” my friend’s daughter (and give her parents a weekend sleep in) and her honorary uncle, and make a day of adventure for us all. Thus, I made some arrangements to meet at 10 am, take the intelligent Munchkin to the city to see the “little people”, have some lunch, and then visit the candy shop as a set of three people. I had a great time – and so did they. The Leprechaun Museum, in my opinion, is much much better with a child because they still have the innocence to enjoy the story telling.


We got there and were the last ones on the tour. The museum itself isn’t very big – it took about an hour to go through from start to finish. Through most of the museum, you’re accompanied by a story teller, who tells the stories of Ireland – this includes legends of the Leprechaun, tales of the Salmon of Wisdom, Banshee, and those are just the ones I remember. In the beginning, our tour guide told us how Leprechauns have changed their look – it used to be that their hats were red – the red gave them the “magic” powers. They actually looked more like the Gnomes of Germany, to me. As she told us the tale, she pointed us to a tunnel – where we got to enter the magical (Abstract) world of the Leprechauns.


From there, we were taken to a wooden abstract representation of the Giant’s Causeway, which was almost like a maze, full of things too small for me as an adult to climb on, but for the kid – exciting to climb up and perch, wander through and hide, and even look through for a different view above the museum rooms.


Once we found our way out, the next room we entered was the Giant’s room. Everything in here was 3 times bigger than normal size. The dining table and chairs, the easy chair, lamp, and easy chair. The giant coffee cup. A huge set of dresser drawers. For adults, it’s like being a kid again. For the kids, well, it’s extra big and makes for tons of laughter and delight.



From this room, the munchkin raced along forward and hit a hallway filled with the legend of the red socks. I read it to her and a few of the other children about the place as we walked along the hallway. The summary of the story was that there was a leprechaun who got caught by a man. Knowing that once caught, Leprechauns have to give their gold over to the one who caught them, the man was delighted. He kept his eyes on the sneaky Leprechaun and forced it to lead him to the gold. The Leprechaun led the man to a grove of trees, and pointed out where the gold was buried. Not having a spade handy, the man took off his red sock and tied it to the tree, letting the Leprechaun go. Then, he headed home to get something dig up and carry the gold with. When he returned, he found that all the trees had red socks tied to them. The result was that he decided there were too many trees with socks, and it would take too long to find the gold again. (It’s supposed to illustrate how tricky the Leprechaun are.)As we rounded the final corner, we were in a room filled with black trees and red socks – and on the walls there was a creative use of mirrors that made the room feel bigger than it was.


From there, we walked through a few rooms with an Irish map, some Mythical Irish place names.. and on the ceiling were a series of umbrellas:


As we left this room, and went into the next, we walked through an Irish Rainbow …

Walking through a rainbow

And found ourselves looking at the pot of gold:


Another tale was told, and we headed into the final rooms, filled with a wishing well to make a wish in and and plenty more legends to think about on the way to Mc Donald’s for lunch, and then to the candy shop for a cupcake and candy.

Making a Wish

Two thoughts on the Leprechaun museum – 1) Go early and try to go during the week. If you can’t get in on one of the tours, it’s about an hour or two wait for the next tour. 2) Take a child. It’s so much more delightful as they discover the legends and race from room to room with excitement.