Today is the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the shortest day and longest night of the year.
A renowned place to observe the sunrise around the time of the winter solstice is the passage tomb at Newgrange in County Meath, one of Ireland's most famous neolithic monuments. Constructed around 3200BC, it has often featured in Celtic folklore, legends and art. The sunrise during the Winter Solstice casts light through the "roof box", an opening above the doorway, and dramatically illuminates the passage and chamber inside for approximately 17 minutes.
Other popular locations for observing this important date are at stone circles, such as those at Ballynoe, County Down, Drombeg in West Cork or Beaghmore here in County Tyrone. There are also around 360 Ogham stones across Ireland which stand alone, some to mark territory, some to commemorate those killed in battle and some to act as a gravestone. They often have Ogham script, one of the oldest forms of writing which in most cases translates to names. Our bronze sculpture inspired by such a monument is based on 'The Recovery of the Tain’ from the Book of Leinster (ca 1160) which is a fascinating story about storytelling, it’s importance to the Irish people and the dangers of celebrity.
Although today may be the shortest, darkest day of the year, the fact that the days that follow the winter solstice grow longer and brighter is thought to denote the triumph of light over dark. It is celebrated as a time for renewal, revival and letting go of darkness.