We shine a light on an Irish wonder that is testament to our Celtic ancestors
In Ancient Ireland, long before the arrival of St. Patrick or the Irish monks who were to ‘save civilisation‘, our pagan Celtic ancestors afforded the greatest importance to the seasons. This was reflected in their major days of celebration – Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lúnasa and Samhain (which we’ve written about in our Halloween blog). The link between ancient and contemporary Ireland has endured. Gaeilge, our native Irish language, invokes the ancestors in the naming of May (Bealtaine), August (Lúnasa) and November (Samhain).
An Ireland older than the Pyramids
Those same stone age ancestors were the ones who engineered and constructed many homages to seasonal changes. But none more impressive that the great passage tomb at Newgrange, built in the stone age era, before either Stonehenge or the Great Pyramid of Giza. The uniqueness of this Irish Neolithic structure is that at Winter Solstice, the rising sun fires a narrow spear of rays through a light box in the roof. For just those three brief morning moments the main burial chamber is illuminated.
A Unique Irish Winter Solstice Spectacle
Naturally, there is huge demand to partake in this memorable experience. Each year, a lottery decides entry – with some 30,000 applicants on average. Sixty lucky winners (from as far away as the the US and Australia) earn the right to potentially witness the spectacle. ‘Potentially’, because nature makes the rules, and it’s Ireland, so sunlight is never guaranteed. From just before 9am (GMT) from December 20th -22nd, for about 15 minutes, the lucky lottery winners just might witness this striking display.
UNESCO Heritage on your Ireland Tour
The three UNESCO World Heritage sites on the island of Ireland are an ingrained piece of our heart (Croí) and soul (Anam). Anam Croí Ireland Tours visits the Giants Causeway on our 7 Day Northern Ireland and Best of the West tour. On an Ireland vacation with us, our 6 day Sojourn of South West Ireland tour, presents an opportunity* to visit the third – Skellig Islands. If you plan to visit Ireland with family, friends, co-workers or others, we can always arrange a visit as part of our customised Private Ireland Vacations tours. Reach out to us at anytime to enquire about the very best of small-group Ireland tours. *landing very limited
In the meantime, whatever the weather, don’t forget to let the sun shine into your heart on this winter solstice. Slán go foill.