Solstice visitors to Newgrange on 50th anniversary of Professor Kelly's discovery

Friday, 22nd December, 2017 12:03pm

Solstice visitors to Newgrange on 50th anniversary of Professor Kelly's discovery

The lottery draw winners at Newgrange this week.

Recently installed Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht,  Josepha Madigan, and Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran,  Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW)  yesterday welcomed the winners of the OPW Winter Solstice Lottery to Newgrange.  Their prize granted them access to the Chamber  to witness the Winter Solstice but unfortunately the sun was obscured by cloud.  Nevertheless, the atmosphere at the monument is weather-proof and all the visitors enjoyed the unique experience of Winter Solstice. The winners were from France, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America and Ireland. They were joined at the monument by a large group of media and onlookers, all seeking to share in the excitement of this unique event.
“This is my first visit to Newgrange as Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht” said Ms Madigan, “and I’m really delighted to join with my colleague Minister Moran in congratulating the Lottery winners who have travelled from far and near to witness at first hand this archaeological phenomenon”.
Minister Madigan added: “Newgrange, built over 5,000 years ago, is one of our archaeological jewels.  It is part of a World Heritage Property of importance to the region, the nation and indeed for humanity.  It is humbling to be here joining so many here and across the globe in witnessing and commemorating our ancestors’ beliefs and showing the true value of our heritage, as providing not only economic benefit in the form of tourism, but a vital sense of place and identity”.
This year the OPW and Fáilte Ireland teamed up to ensure that wherever people are, in Ireland or around the world, they can experience the magic of the Winter Solstice at Newgrange, with a unique live stream from the attraction.
Minister Moran said: “I am delighted to be here alongside Minister Madigan to celebrate the 50th anniversary since Prof MJ O’Kelly rediscovered the sunrise illumination on the chamber at Newgrange on the Winter Solstice and to witness the live streaming of this phenomenon in association with Fáilte Ireland.  I would also like to welcome the lucky winners of this very popular OPW Solstice Lottery competition.  In September, these lucky winners were chosen by local school children from over 33,000 applications from all around the world. That some of the winners have come this week from as far afield as Switzerland and the USA shows the continuing fascination the Solstice has the world over”.
Minister Moran went on to say: “2017 was a phenomenal year for overseas tourism to the Island of Ireland with Tourism Ireland reporting an estimated 10.65 million visitors by year end.  It is hoped to build on these figures in 2018 with plans by Tourism Ireland to highlight iconic experiences like the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Causeway Coastal Route and Titanic Belfast.  They will also promote Dublin and Belfast for off-peak travel.  Strategic plans are in place to work with Fáilte Ireland to enhance and improve the facilities on offer at OPW sites over the coming years”.

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