Spring and Autumn Equinox at Loughcrew Cairns
The Loughcrew Cairns are one of Ireland’s archaeological treasures and can be found 3 km east of Oldcastle, County Meath. The site comprises a group of 5000 year old Neolithic passage tombs. On both the spring equinox (21st March) and autumn equinox (23rd September), the spectacularly decorated tomb at Cairn T is illuminated by a beam of morning light at sunrise. This alignment with the rising sun marks the halfway point between the winter and summer solstice, and a modern-day Equinox festival is held to celebrate this event.
Winter Solstice at Newgrange
Constructed around 3200 BC, the Neolithic tomb at Newgrange in County Meath is best known for its ancient lightshow illuminated by the winter solstice sunrise. At dawn on 21st December, a narrow beam of light spreads through the passage tomb until the whole chamber becomes dramatically lit by the rising sun. This ancient ritual at Newgrange has been taking place for over 5000 years and continues to attract hundreds of people who gather before dawn. Each year, many apply for a free lottery for the chance to enter the chamber during the winter solstice. For those who do not succeed on this day, this ancient site can be visited all year round.