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Samhain 2014

Samhain: shadows, sounds & stories:

a multimedia exhibition of photography, creative writing & soundscape

National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology, Kildare Street, Dublin 2

20 November – 7 December

Admission is free

Samhain’ is a collaborative venture between the National Museum of Ireland, Age & Opportunity and Poetry Ireland. The initiative is funded in 2014 by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; the National Museum of Ireland; Age & Opportunity; Poetry Ireland and Mayo Co. Co. Arts Office and supported by the Ulster Museum and Music Network.  


Samhain: shadows, sounds & stories’ is the culmination of a series of workshops with three groups of older people: one each based in Dublin, Mayo and Belfast. The participants collaborated with professional musicians, creative writers and a photographer in response to their reflections on the Celtic festival of Samhain.

Traditionally, Samhain was the Celtic harvest festival marking the end of the ‘lighter half’ of the year and the beginning of the ‘darker half’. It was a time for reflection, a time to take stock of the herds and grain supplies, a time to plan ahead for the winter. The Samhain project explores a ‘Samhain’ for our age through photography, music and creative writing. It explores and reflects on death, dying and loss though personal histories and our shared cultural past. 

Each of the photographs in the exhibition depict landscapes and sites in Northern Ireland that were important to the Celtic people and where beautiful objects from our Celtic past, now on display in our National Museums, were discovered. The photographers are all from the Ballybeen Women’s Centre, Dundonald in east Belfast. Following a visit to the Ulster Museum, they worked with professional photographer Mervyn Smyth of Belfast Exposed to visit and photograph sites like Navan Fort just outside Armagh and the Lough Foyle site where the beautiful Brioghter Hoard was unearthed.

The Samhain participants at the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology in Dublin collaborated with musician Robbie Blake and composer Elaine Agnew – Artistic Adviser to the Samhain project - to create a soundscape that reflects their experience of the Celtic Samhain. The music is a layered recording made up of fragments of music created by the participants themselves using unusual instruments and their voices as well as sounds recorded at the sites photographed. The music was created by the group in response to the objects on display in Kildare Street, a field trip to Navan Fort in Armagh and reflections on the themes of death and loss explored over the course of the project.  

At the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life in Mayo, the ‘Samhain’ group took part in series of creative writing workshops with poet Terry McDonagh. The work created for this exhibition is inspired by the festival of Samhain through the Folklife collection as well as reflections on aging, dying and loss. With museum staff they explored artefacts, customs and traditions associated with Samhain, wakes and burials. The group also had a workshop with well-known storyteller Eddie Lenihan. The creative writing works include poetry, a mini saga and Flash Fiction.

The exhibition is on display at theNational Museum of Ireland - Archaeology from Thursday 20 November to Sunday 7 December inclusive. Admission is free and all are welcome. 


Logos Samhain


Samhain was established in 2012 to start to look at aspects of the darker side of ageing including death, resilience, healing and forgiveness. All events take place duing November and are organised in cooperation with the National Museum of Ireland and Poetry Ireland. 

Take a look at this short video from one of the Samhain 2013 events:


For more information on Samhain please contact Age & Opportunity at 01 805 7709 or email info{at}