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09.29 21 Dec 2018


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Friday is the shortest day of the year and one of the most popular days to view the Winter Solstice at Newgrange.

Every year at the Newgrange passage tomb, a ray of sunlight illuminates the chamber for 17 minutes.

A group of people, chosen by a lottery system, gathered in the hope of seeing the phenomenon.

The winners were from as far as the United States of America, Denmark and the United Kingdom.

However, the sun was obscured by clouds.

Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, said: "I am delighted to welcome the lucky winners of this very popular OPW Solstice Lottery competition to witness at first hand this archaeological phenomenon.

"In September, these lucky winners were chosen by local school children from over 28,000 applications from all around the world.

"That some of the winners have come this week from as far afield as Brazil and New Zealand Switzerland and the USA shows the continuing fascination the Solstice has the world over"

The Newgrange monument in Co Meath is older than the Pyramids at Giza and Stonehenge.

It was built by Stone Age farmers, with a mound 85 meters in diameter and 13.5 meters high.

A passage measuring 19 meters leads into the chamber with three alcoves.

The passage and chamber are aligned with the rising sun at the Winter Solstice.

Newgrange is surrounded by 97 large stones called kerbstones, some of which are engraved with megalithic art.

It has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

File photo shows the entrance to Newgrange in 2014 | Image: Brian Lawless/PA Archive/PA Images

Winter Solstice is an astronomical phenomenon which marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Solstice occurs on December 21st or 22nd, when the sun shines directly over the Tropic of Capricorn.

The summer Solstice happens on June 20th or 21st, when the sun shines directly over the Tropic of Cancer.

Sunrise on the shortest days of the year begins at 8.58am and the light shines into the chamber.

The OPW opens the monument for the dawn from December 18th until December 23rd and general admission on those mornings is free of charge.


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