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Winter solstice sunrise to be streamed live from Newgrange this morning



The winter solstice sunrise will be streamed live from the chamber at Newgrange this morning, as visits to the Neolithic passage tomb were cancelled over Covid-19 concerns.

The first of three online live streams took place from Co Meath on Monday morning, with today’s beginning at 8.45am. The last will begin tomorrow, again at 8.45am.

A dull and cloudy day is forecast for the area today.

This marks the second year in a row that the winter solstice sunrise has been available to watch from Newgrange online only.

Minister of State for the Office of Public Works (OPW) Patrick O’Donovan said he understood there was “disappointment” about the closure of the passage tomb’s chamber because of the pandemic, especially for the winter solstice.

“But we have to be mindful of the Government guidelines in relation to Covid-19 and the health and safety of our visitors at all times,” he said.

“Watching the light creep into the 5,000-year-old passage tomb in real time is a moving event that has the power to fill us both with wonder at the ancient architects’ ingenuity and with hope for the future,” Mr O’Donovan said.

Alignment

The solar alignment of the passage tomb at Newgrange to face the rising sun on the winter solstice was originally rediscovered by Prof Michael J O’Kelly in 1967. Other researchers have since then validated O’Kelly’s interpretation.

Analysis of high-resolution imagery taken during last year’s research programme has added to the body of evidence that the solar illumination of the tomb was intentional.

“The solstice has long been celebrated as a time of rebirth and renewal as we look forward to the prospect of brighter days ahead,” Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan said.

“As we continue our Newgrange Solstice Research Project I am very excited to learn more about how the dawn sun on the shortest days of the year interacts with this remarkable monument and how it may have engaged and enthralled our ancestors over 5,000 years ago.”

The sunrise at Newgrange can be viewed live online today and tomorrow morning at gov.ie/opw and heritageireland.ie.



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