For the first time in decades, humans were absent from the chamber of Newgrange for the annual winter solstice sunrise illumination of the famous monument.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the chamber has been off bounds to visitors since March 2020 when the pandemic arrived in Ireland. However, the Office of Public Works and the National Monuments Service teamed up to bring the marvellous event to a worldwide audience with a special internet livestream.
The first of three scheduled livestreams from the 5,200-year-old megalithic monument in the Boyne Valley was a tremendous success, helped enormously by compliant weather. A beautiful golden sunrise heralded a rare opportunity for large audiences to see the phenomenon.
Usually, 20 lottery winners are allowed to enter the chamber to see the sunrise. But this year, because of coronavirus, OPW/NMS organised a livestream, which was a wonderful idea because it allowed a much greater audience to witness the event in safety.
Shortly after the golden orb of the sun began to appear above the hill of Redmountain opposite the great cairn, the sunlight began to stream into the chamber. Clare Tuffy, OPW manager of the monument, and archaeoastronomer Frank Prendergast provided a commentary for the event.
There was a terrific reaction to the livestream online, with many commenting about how it had given them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view the phenomenon, which is the result of human ingenuity from the Neolithic, before metallurgy had come to Ireland.
We were able to witness the initial piercing of the chamber by light, but also the slow retreat afterwards as the sun slowly rose in the sky and the light beam narrowed before exiting the chamber again.
If you missed the livestream, you can catch up by watching a video of the entire event on YouTube on the Office of Public Works channel:
Read my book about Newgrange and its astronomical, cosmological, mythological and spiritual importance. Built more than five millennia ago, it stands as a remarkable memorial to a skilled and dedicated people who time would otherwise have forgotten. BUY YOUR SIGNED COPY OF THE BOOK HERE.
What people say about Newgrange: Monument to Immortality:
I follow Anthony Murphy on his FB page called Mythical Ireland and am always astounded at his knowledge and love of Ireland, its myth, its beliefs, its beauty, and its antiquity. This book is not a disappointment in those aspects of his works. And there are many. There is so much to learn!
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Enter the ‘Ancient Sites’ section of this blog for a fascinating and wide-ranging exploration of the megalithic and sacred sites of Ireland. Find out all about the Stone Age and prehistoric ruins and learn more about the possible functions and alignments of these sites. Visit the great temples of Brú na Bóinne, the Hill of Tara, the ancient cairns of Loughcrew among many others.
Explore the ancient myths, legends and folklore of Ireland and their meaning. Read the epic Táin Bó Cuailnge, or the place-name myths in the Dindshenchas. Learn about how the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Milesians came to Ireland and how the early texts describe various invasions of prehistoric Éire. Hear about Fionn and the Fianna, and discover how some myths might contain information about astronomy and the stars.
There is no doubt that the ancient megalith builders had a substantial knowledge of the movements of the sun, moon, planets and stars through the heavens. Learn more about just how complex and impressive this knowledge was. There is evidence that the people of the Neolithic knew about the 19-year Metonic cycle of the moon, as well as being able to predict eclipses.