Newgrange, Older than the Pyramids and Stonehenge but Still Subject to Irish Weather
Martin Murphy Epoch Times Staff
On the shortest day of each year during the winter
solstice, sunlight enters through the roof box above the main entrance to
Newgrange and slowly makes its way up the passage to the main burial chamber
where it hits the back wall and thus illuminates the tomb.
Nowadays the phenomena can be witnessed live on the
Annually a group of media and a lottery selected party of visitors wait
inside the monument to witness the event.
Newgrange (Martin Murphy/The Epoch Times)
This year the “lucky”
a list of over 34,000 people were unfortunately disappointed because the
cloudy sky blocked the light which failed to enter the chamber.
The first person in modern time to experience the Newgrange event was the
late Professor Michael J O'Kelly from the Department of Archaeology in
University College Cork. Professor O'Kelly first saw the sun's illumination
of the tomb on the morning of December 21st 1967.
Professor Michael J O'Kelly's daughter, Professor Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly
spoke to the Epoch Times about the time she and her late father were in the
chamber alone on the morning of the
Winter Solstice. Professor
Watanabe-O'Kelly reckoned it was the second time her father had seen the
Professor Watanabe-O'Kelly was a student in UCC and her father asked her if
she would like to accompany him on his trip to Newgrange. “I still remember
just being all alone with him in the tomb in pitch dark, none of the
television cameras and all of the things that there are now, then suddenly
the light come in and touched the back wall it was incredible” said
“When you went there in the early days it was like 5,000 years ago was
speaking to you, now everyone knows about and it's still wonderful but
earlier on you had the feeling that you were having the same experience that
they had back then.”
Professor Watanabe-O'Kelly was also in Newgrange for the thirtieth
anniversary in 2007. She recalled that on that day both her sisters were
here too. “it was a wonderful clear day, we saw the finger of light come
into the chamber just as I saw it with my father thirty years ago, it was
Professor Watanabe-O'Kelly explained how her father was involved in the
excavation of Newgrange starting in the late sixties. At that time no one
knew about the light eluminating the tomb on the shortest day of the year.
“He had been excavating it, uncovered this opening which he called a roof
box, a slit that the sun shone through, then had to speculate what is was
for, had it something to do with orientation, what could it possibly be?”
Professor Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly said her mother Clair O'Kelly first
suggested to him that it could have something to do with the winter
Brú na Bóinne
Newgrange was constructed
approximately 5,000 years ago which dates it as
being older than Stonehenge in England and the Great Pyramid of Giza in
Egypt. Newgrange along with other similar sites in the Boyne valley called
Brú na Bóinne (bend of Boyne river) such as
Dowth are designated
a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Newgrange side view (Martin Murphy/The Epoch Times)
Brú na Bóinne visitors' centre which is run by the office of public works in
Ireland was opened in June 1997 to interpret and protect the Neolithic
monuments of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.
Clare Tuffy manager of Brú na Bóinne visitors' centre told the Epoch Times
that the centre was set up to interpret the culture that built the
monuments. It explains about their lifestyles their housing and their burial
It has an exhibition that includes a full scale replica of the
chamber at Newgrange. The centre is also the starting point for all visits
Clare Tuffy said that the event is now
webcasted live, you can
also view it there after the event.
According to Mrs Tuffy there is great global interest in
year we were contacted by people all around the world, from places like
Brazil, Australia and America telling us that they had watched the sunrise
from Newgrange from the web."
Martin Murphy Epoch Times Staff
- December 23rd 2008.
Boyne Valley Private Day Tours
Pick up and return to your accommodation or cruise ship. Suggested day tour:
Newgrange World Heritage site, 10th century High Crosses at Monasterboice,
Hill of Tara the seat of the High Kings of Ireland, Bective Abbey and Trim Castle the largest Norman castle in Ireland