From Father Ted to Oscar Wilde – some fun and original dress-up ideas that are quintessentially Irish.
The Irish take Halloween very seriously. From the pagan festival of Samhain to the Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin every year, the Irish know how to scare the "bejaysus" out of the best of them. However, the Irish are also known for their great sense of humor.
What’s great about a lot of these costumes is they need not cost you the earth and you can probably just make them up for clothes you already own. From the creator of Dracula to the beloved sitcom Father Ted and some silly cultural stereotypes we’ve some great ideas for this year’s Halloween costume.
Here are just a few great Irish Halloween costume ideas:
There are plenty of great characters to rip off from the classic Irish sitcom “Father Ted,” the title character being one of them.
Get yourself a priest’s collar, pepper that hair until it’s gray and you’re set.
If an extreme costume is more your idea of a good Halloween, then transform into Father Jack.
Blacken your teeth, whiteout one eye, work on that old man scruff and fluff out your thinning white hair until it looks like you’ve been electrocuted, and you’ll have it!
Be sure to be as violent, drunk, and foul-mouthed as possible throughout the night.
The Irish Mammy
Another option for a woman (or a man) is dressing up as the classic Irish mammy.
The trick is to don a thick sweater, a long skirt, and an apron, and continuously offer your guests tea and sandwiches.
Remember: the Irish mammy does NOT take “no” for an answer! Just “go on” them to death until they take you up on your offer.
An obvious go-to Irish costume is Ireland’s biggest rock star – Bono. An original getup? Maybe not. But Irish people love to have a go at the over-the-top U2 frontman.
There’s flexibility with this one: your hair can be long or short, and your wraparound transparent space-like glasses can be orange or blue. Plus, you can opt for the cowboy hat or non-cowboy hat look.
Just be sure to sport all black (preferably leather) and tote a mic – and an armful of faux-Grammys or iPhones!
Another big Irish personality you can emulate is Pogues’ frontman, Shane MacGowan. If you’re already a toothless, heavy-drinking Irishman, this look won’t be too hard to achieve. If not, a few simple steps will get you on your way to transforming into the wild punk legend.
First, skip the showering for a few days. It’s especially important not to wash your hair. It’s also crucial to put down the toothbrush – or just black out about ¾ of your teeth. Don’t forget to grow (or draw on) scruffy facial hair and make sure those dark circles under your eyes stand out. Lastly, grab a drink (or 20) and a cigarette, and you’re good to go!
For all you fancy-schmancy literary types, the Oscar Wilde “aesthetic dress” costume may be the right choice for you.
The iconic writer and Ireland’s most famous dandy loved to strut around in capes, fur-adorned coats, and flowing ties. He was also rarely ever seen without his walking stick.
To achieve the Wildean look, get yourself a purple velvet coat (fur trimming is a bonus), a long dark wig (curled under), an elaborate scarf or tie, large rings (necklaces, bracelets, and other jewelry wouldn’t hurt either) and an elegant walking stick.
Don’t forget to stock up on witty puns to dish out to your friends.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
To linger in the literary world for a moment, another Irish costume option is Bram Stoker’s Dracula. No – not the slicked-back black hair, red and black cape Dracula we know from the original movie, but Irishman Bram Stoker’s original vision of the vampire.
Take your cue from Gary Oldman in Francis Ford Coppola’s 90s hit “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” The top hat, the dark downward-slanted glasses, the long black jacket – the outfit is rather simple.
As far as your looks, all you’ll need is a long, dark wig, a mustache, bright red contacts and long fingernails, and voila! You’re the Irishman’s vampire!
Now for the ladies out there looking to get in the Irish Halloween spirit, one costume option is the mean, old Irish nun. Looking as old and cranky as humanly possible is key, here. Otherwise, buy yourself a traditional nun costume, a ridiculous pair of reading glasses, and a ruler, and you should be set.
To really give it that Irish touch, practice your Irish accent – it will have a much scarier effect when you shout at people for being naughty children!
If you're looking for a slightly more modern take on the Irish nun, look no further than Sister Michael from Derry Girls.
If you’re looking to dress up as a group, why not get together and become The Commitments? Ireland’s most famous fictional band consists of both guys and girls, so invite the whole gang!
The idea here is 90s Dublin soul. Guys, dress in black dapper suits, but feel free to rock that mullet. Girls, dig out that tight, lacey black dress from your 1992 closet and tease up that hair. Grab a few musical instruments and bicker constantly with each other.
To really impress ’em, bust out an incredibly soulful rendition of “Mustang Sally.”
A D4 Head
Ivor from "Ivor and Damo" on RTE is the perfect caricature of a D4 Head:
For the extremely advanced (or the person with a ton of friends from Dublin), one Halloween costume idea is the D4 Head – a posh Leinster rugby supporter.
D4 stands for Dublin 4 the posh region of southside Dublin, known for their fancy accents, designer clothes, private school affiliation, and obsession with Leinster rugby. So, collars up and attitude out, get ready to drop names like there is no tomorrow and pretend 'Mummy and Daddy' own half the country.
If you arrive at your party and meet Irish people who pretend not to know what a D4 head is and wear a look of bemusement, then don't worry, you are probably talking to one!
Whatever you do, don't dress up as a leprechaun… please!
*Originally published in 2013, updated in October 2021.