Winter Solstice 2022: Newgrange sees just enough sun as crowds hail the sunrise

The sun made a brief appearance this morning during the winter solstice, but welcome to Newgrange.

Despite the biting cold wind, a warm atmosphere reigned at the 5,000-year-old site in Co Meath, and hundreds braved the elements to greet the elusive sun as it peeked over the horizon just before 9am.

As an orange glow lit the sky, many visitors formed a large circle in front of the building, and the primordial sound of drums echoed off its walls.

Others sang in celebration of the winter solstice, marking the arrival of the shortest day of the year.

The rising sun passes through a light box above the entrance to Newgrange, sending a beam of light down the stone-lined passageway to illuminate the inner chamber at its center.

And there was just enough light for the 12 lucky visitors, chosen by lottery, to see the phenomenon.

Rona Sherebrin was one of the lucky ones to have her name drawn in the lottery and she traveled from Canada to be in Newgrange today.

“There was a ray of light. It came very quickly and lasted about a minute before disappearing and coming back. It was amazing. Very special,” she said.

“I signed up for the lottery in 2020 and was stunned when I received the email. I hadn’t even remembered signing up, but I traveled all the way across. It was an amazing experience that I didn’t want to miss,” she added.

Trudy Maguire didn’t have to travel far because she’s from nearby Duleek.

“In the beginning it was mostly just daylight and then a little golden streak of light. It didn’t last very long but we could see it so it was great. It was just amazing, just an otherworldly feeling,” she said.

Leontia Lenehan, of the Public Works Office, said it was the first time since 2019 that visitors would be allowed into the chamber on the Solstice.

For those who couldn’t be in the chamber for sunrise, the day was just as special.

It was Kate Murphy’s first time and she was traveling from Cork.

“I was starting to really appreciate the rhythms and cycles of nature, so I wanted to gather with other people to celebrate the return of the sun after a long, dark winter and come together in community like our ancestors did,” she said .

“It’s really special to honor them and also honor the elements and just come together as people. It’s very original and an ancient thing, so I think it’s really important that we continue this beautiful tradition of celebrating and coming together in the community,” she added.

Finglas’ Keith Stapleton shared Kate’s point of view, saying he’s traveled to far corners of the world but the wind has always “blown me home”.

“I can only speak for myself, but I really felt like something called me home at the time and there was a deeper connection. There was something here in the country that called me,” he said.

“I’ve connected to something special here and to the country itself and to places like Newgrange, Lough Crew and Tara and other sacred sites.

“During the lockdown we have explored many sacred sites and have become increasingly connected to the land and perhaps to questions of what came before.”

The sun was obscured by a ribbon cloud for about an hour before reappearing overhead, then illuminating and warming the face of the ancient monument to time and seasons.

From this point on, the sun rises earlier and sets later every day. In January there will be one and a half to two minutes more daylight every day, and in the end there will be a noticeable “stretch” in the evening. Winter Solstice 2022: Newgrange sees just enough sun as crowds hail the sunrise

Fry Electronics Team

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