Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A message of hope from the Newgrange chamber on Winter Solstice

Although I have been to Newgrange hundreds of times and despite having written a book about it, I have never had the pleasure of being inside the chamber of Newgrange for Winter Solstice sunrise - until today.
This morning (Sunday December 19th 2010), shortly before 9am, I was one of a lucky group gathered at the 5,200-year-old stone monument awaiting the sun's light. And although somewhat dispersed by cloud cover, we did get to see sunlight in the chamber, and then when the clouds cleared we got lovely intense sunlight in the passage just outside the chamber.

It was a very enjoyable experience and an uplifting and calming one too. The presence of snow in the valley only served to enhance the experience for those of us who were there. Our guide, Leontia, was excellent, informative and friendly. We enjoyed her commentary on the phenomenon and also those moments of calm and quiet which she suggested would help us enjoy the moment all the more.

One of the most poignant aspects of the event for me was the idea that light can shine into the darkest places and although Ireland is going through dark times Newgrange is a symbol of hope for the future. 

It has survived for over 5,000 years, reinforcing the idea that the Irish people have been around for a long, long time, and we will be around for a long time into the future as well. Best wishes of the Solstice and Christmas season to all of you and may the light of Newgrange inspire you to hope for a better year in 2011. A special mention for film-maker Grant Wakefield - thanks. 

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