Sunday 20 January 2019

Newgrange: Watch a live stream of the spectacular winter solstice

Ireland's Ancient East

Newgrange, Co Meath. Photo: Tourism Ireland
Newgrange, Co Meath. Photo: Tourism Ireland
Sean Nicholston, Dublin, and Siobhan Carroll, Roscommon, in the chamber at Newgrange. Photo: Damien Eagers
Rebecca Smyth with an Irish Wolfhound at Newgrange in Co Meath in 2016 Photo: Mark Condren
Inside the chamber at the Winter Solstice at Newgrange yesterday morning. Picture Steve Humphreys
Newgrange, Co Meath. Photo: Fáilte Ireland
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

For the first time ever, people all over the world can watch sunlight creep into Newgrange passage tomb on winter solstice.

Weather-permitting, of course (clouds are forecast).

A live stream organised by the OPW and Fáílte Ireland will broadcast the moment when the 5,000-year-old tomb's internal chamber is lit up (#Solstice2017).

You can watch it live (below) from 8.30am on Thursday, December 21. 

The annual event, which sees sunlight enter the roofbox of the Co. Meath tomb and light up its inner chamber over the course of around 17 minutes, is simulated for all visitors to Newgrange - but only a lucky few get to see the real deal.

Each year, the OPW runs a Winter Solstice Lottery - in 2017, it says, over 33,000 people applied from as far afield as Austria, Italy and the US.

Just a handful are ever successful in entering the chamber itself.

Newgrange is believed to be older than Stonehenge (below) and the Egyptian pyramids, and its "alignment" is considered a marvel of Neolithic engineering.

The live stream comes on a notable anniversary, too.

50 years ago, on December 21, 1967, Irish archaeologist Dr. Michael J. O’Kelly stood inside the famous passage tomb as the light from the rising sun travelled 19m up the corridor to illuminate the central chamber.

Dr O'Kelly is believed to have been the first human to witness the winter solstice from inside Newgrange in millennia.

Today, Brú na Bóinne is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and key Ireland's Ancient East attraction visited by over 207,000 people a year.

Winter solstice is the shortest day of the year.

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