StephenMcPhilemy, from Essential Ireland Tours, had the honour of being the first representative of our passionate little tour-company to attend the Newgrange Winter Solstice ceremony at dawn on the 21st December
This is an incredible honour for Irish people. Newgrange is one of Ireland's most sacred ancient sites.
Each year almost 40,000 people apply for this most incredible of cultural and archaeological experiences. An annual lottery is held by the Office of Public Works (OPW) who maintain the UNESCO World Heritage site on behalf of the Irish people. Everyone who visits the site is entitled to write their name on a slip of paper and insert it into the lottery-box provided.
30 or so lucky winners are selectedto be present inside the majestic central chamber, under hundreds of thousandsof tons of rocks and earth which was constructed with incredible engineeringskills 5000 years ago. We Irish like to always remind people that this wasbefore Stonehenge and the pyramids were built!
This year Tour-driver legend Dennis McArdle from Monaghan won the honour afterStephen suggested he enter his name. The two were at Newgrange when Stephen wasleading a group for his dear friend and mentor, Rick Steves (which Stephenenjoys doing more than 10 times per year).
He selected Stephen and this resultedin Stephen cutting short a winter holiday in Los Angeles and flying home sothat both men could squeeze inside the chamber at dawn on the winter solstice.As their ancestors have done for 5000 years.
Stephen took no video footage insidethe chamber out of respect for protocol and for the spirits of ancestors,and most importantly just to savour the moment that the laser beam of sunlightenters the passage and illuminates the central chamber as it has done every yearsince 3000BC.