For those of us who hate the long dark nights of winter, you might be curious to know that in Ireland we celebrate the longest of them all – the Winter Solstice!
In Ireland, there’s no better place to celebrate this ancient festival than at the 5,000 year old Newgrange Passage Tomb at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brú Na Boinne (Palace of the Boyne). At dawn, on the shortest day of the year, people will gather in celebration of the solar New Year at this most mysterious, majestic and awe-inspiring monument.
Civilisations have come and gone leaving iconic landmarks from the Mayan and Aztec Temples of South America to the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, but all of these were built long after the ancient necropolis of passage tombs in Ireland’s Boyne Valley.
On winter’s shortest day, the sun will rise over the nearby hills and beam its golden light in perfect alignment along the 5,000 year old ancient passage way to the ceremonial chamber deep within the tomb. This occurrence lasts only 17-minutes before the light retracts, plunging the tomb back into darkness until the dawning of the next winter solstice.
This festival marks the turning point of the astronomical year where in modern times, as it was in Irelands ancient past; it’s a time to celebrate the end of shortening days of winter and the beginning of the long summer nights to come!
But Brú Na Boinne is an extraordinary place to visit at any time of the year. More than a thousand years older than Stonehenge, the vast necropolis boasts the three principle monuments of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth amongst a collection of some 40 smaller tombs. One of the most extraordinary sites in Ireland with arguably the finest collection of stone-age art in Western Europe, it’s not to be missed on any holiday to Ireland.
If you would like to experience Brú na Boinne on one of our cultural adventure tours from Dublin then visit our Explore Ireland Tours website www.exploreirelandtours.com or call us on + 353 (0)91 553388