They call her La Loba, the Wolf Woman, the gatherer of bones. She wanders the desert collecting the bones of those in danger of being lost to the world. In her cave she sings flesh onto the skeletons she builds, and they leave with old souls inside them. It is said that if you wander the desert you may come across the old collector.
Or you could find her in a parade in Dublin.
Macnas is a theatre company based in Galway that has performed in over 20 countries. Prior to the Lockdown, Macnas started doing parades for Samhain, the Gaelic festival said to be the origin of Hallowe’en. In 2023 they brought it back with the Cnámha La Loba, based on the legend of the Wolf Woman.
First performed in Galway, it also became part of Dublin’s Bram Stoker Festival a couple of days later. When we were looking for things to do over Hallowe’en, we saw the parade listed and had to see it for ourselves.
There was already a crowd gathering along the streets when we showed up. We found ourselves a beer, and settled near the start of the route. We waited as the streets filled up. By the time the parade started there was a huge crowd crammed into Jervis Street.
The parade’s performers interacted with people as they passed. Scaring people is part of the fun of Hallowe’en. Bands performed eerie music, and followed by large creatures of the night. These were giant puppets, which were animated in incredibly lifelike ways. Then, of course, to finish the parade was the gatherer of bones herself.
This was definitely an experience, and I clearly haven’t done it justice here. If you’re ever in Ireland during Samhain, it’s worth looking up what parades Macnas might be running that year.