IT'S TIME to get spooky.
While Ireland is currently enjoying the last gasp of summer with a surprise mini-heatwave, the changing of the seasons is well and truly underway.
The days are getting noticeably shorter, the wind that bit more biting, the once-full trees starting to lose their leaves.
But while many will be disappointed with the summer coming to an end and winter approaching, we've still got Autumn to look forward to-- and it is a genuinely lovely time in Ireland.
With that, let's get counting down 9 of the best things about Ireland in Autumn.
1 Walks through the park
Sure, it's not unique to Ireland-- far from it, in fact-- but there's nothing like walking through one of the country's spectacular National Parks when the first touch of Autumn is changing the landscape.
The trees turning gold and red, the leaves crunching beneath your feet, squirrels chasing each other through the trees as they prepare to hibernate for the winter... there's nothing like it.
2 The bonfires
Picture it: You step outside, all wrapped up in a hat, scarf and jacket, maybe clutching a hot coffee to keep your hands warm; the day is crisp, clear and cool, and then you smell it: burning wood. The most Autumny smell of all-- there's a bonfire nearby.
Whether you even attend or not, the sharp scent of a bonfire nearby is oddly comforting.
3 The Macnas parade
Native to Galway, the Macnas parade showcases some of Ireland's best theatrical and artistic talent, with massive, spooky puppets parading down the narrow ancient streets of Galway City.
With a new theme and bigger celebrations with each passing year, the Macnas parade will be sorely missed this October-- but you can always check out our coverage of last year's parade.
4 Watching the birds
You know summer is truly at its end when you see the migratory birds getting ready to say goodbye. The hundreds of swallows lining up on the telephone wires every evening is one of those things that encapsulates Autumn-- and while there's always a small pang of sadness when they leave, watching them take off all at once is truly something special.
5 Spooky stories
We're a nation of storytellers, whether we're exaggerating a tale in the pub or making things up to mess with our younger family members-- and as the calendar creeps closer to Halloween, all the spooky folktales tend to emerge. Best told around a bonfire.
6 Lighting the fire
We all love being able to turn off the heating as the summer warmth reaches it's peak, but there's nothing more satisfying than a lit fire in a grate. The scent of the burning turf, popping branches and dancing flames, while the wind blows outside and you're safe and warm inside. Unreal.
Need I say more? Not to mention it's an ancient Irish tradition.
8 Warming food
Have you ever eaten a stew at the height of summer? It's just not the same. But when it's autumn and you've come in from the cold and you're warming yourself by the fire and then you're served a big bowl of Irish stew-- now that is perfection. (Check out the recipe here!)
9 ...and warming drink!
Irish coffee. Bailey's hot chocolate. The best way to end a hearty meal. (Everything in moderation, of course!) You can check out a very special Halloween-themed Bailey's drink here.
Bonus number 10: Banshee Bones!
— Mr.Tayto Ireland (@MrTaytoIreland) September 15, 2020
The absolute best Irish crisp-- and yes, we're including Tayto Cheese & Onion in this.
Salt & Vinegar crisps in the shape of a Banshee's skeleton, with a terrifying Banshee glaring out of the packet at you, marketed towards young Irish children who, if they had any sense, were already terrified of the banshee.
These beauties were sadly discontinued a few years ago-- but this Halloween they're back, for a limited time only. So stock up while you can-- we certainly are.