Winter solstice dawn watch begins on thursday
Dawn watching begins at Newgrange this Thursday morning, as the lucky winners of the annual Solstice draw gather in the 5,000 year-old tomb to see the winter solstice strike its rays of sunlight right into the heart of the passage tomb at Ireland’s best-known prehistoric monument.
For nearly 5,000 years, the stone-lined chambers with their geometric decorations have demonstrated man’s urge to bury his dead with ceremony and each year people from around the world gather to watch the Solstice phenomenon over the shortest days of the year.
Dawn watching begins on Thursday and will finish next Tuesday morning, 23rd December.
Those who will have the privilege of witnessing the phenomenon are winners of a draw held annually at the Brú na Boinne Visitor Centre and the winners this year are from various counties in Ireland, Austria, Chile, Poland, Spain, the UK and USA.
On Sunday morning, the morning of the actual Solstice, a number from the US, two from Dundalk and the winners of the OPW-run children’s art competition will be allowed inside the tumulus at Newgrange.
Anyone who wants to stand on the outside of Newgrange monument as the sun is rising on Sunday morning is welcome to do so, says the OPW.
The OPW, which is responsible for the site, advises that the best way to get there is to go to Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre and get a shuttle bus to the site. There is no charge for this and the centre will open at 7am.
At Newgrange, visitors can expect a queue on the road, but everyone will be allowed on the site from 8.30am (once it begins to get light) until 9.30am. After 9.30am, there is no direct access to Newgrange. There is no charge to go on-site up until 9.30am.
If visitors decide to access the site from the N51 by going directly to Newgrange, the roads will be closed off to traffic from a distance of approx 1.5 km and visitors will have to walk from where their car is parked.
After dawn, when the lottery winners and art competition winners come out of the chamber, people who have been waiting outside will be brought inside in groups of 20 people. In 2013, it took until nearly noon for everyone who wanted to go inside to get in and out.
Once all the people at the monuments have left the site, normal arrangements and normal admission prices will apply. Guided tours will commence at approximately 12.30pm.