Here in Ireland when I was young it was said that the souls in Purgatory were released to visit their still mortal friends. Long ago the country folk before they retired to bed on this night [31 October] prepared a blazing fire and a well swept hearth to welcome their unearthly visitors.
Every year my contacts in the US ask me do we celebrate Halloween in Ireland. As they appear to believe that Halloween is American they are usually surprised when I answer that we do and that we have being do so for longer than the US has existed. Of course it is a bit more complicated than that because Halloween as we now celebrate it here is now very much Americanised. For obvious reasons we do not celebrate Guy Faulks [bonfire night] here in Ireland so we have fireworks and bonfires at Halloween instead.
My friends from outside Ireland are even more surprised when I tell that Abraham "Bram" Stoker was an Irish author, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula.
A free booklet about Halloween is available at http://www.duchas.ie/download/15.10.23-halloween.pdf