Older than Stonehenge and the great pyramids of Giza stands Newgrange, the heart of legends and mysteries stretching back five thousand years. Situated along the river Boyne near to numerous other such places like Knowth and Dowth, that very same river where Fionn Mac Cumhaill was said to have first found and tasted the salmon of knowledge, and the Daga Mor, king of the Tuatha de Dannan, made his home here for a while. The Irish hero Cu Chulainn was even rumoured to have been conceived in a dream there!
It is deeply interwoven through Irish myths and tales, being "three times fifty sons of kings abode for three days with their three nights", and said to have been the stronghold to which Aengus brought the body of Diarmaid after his death so that he could "put a wind-borne life into him so that he will talk to me every day." Lugh son of Dagda is also reputed to have been buried here.
Weighing almost a quarter of a million tons and covering more than an acre, at the heart of twelve standing stones, the water-rolled stones of Newgrange were taken from the nearby river, but they sit behind white quartz from Wicklow and round granite from the Mourne mountains. And its passages are still waterproof today! They don't build them like that anymore. Scholars once thought the place a tomb but have since changed thei opinions, believing it to be much more - a temple to ancient gods, from which the stars were studied and where ceremonies were held.
The most remarkable sight to be seen at Newgrange comes during the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, when the light and warmth of the sun is at its lowest ebb. Archaeologists were baffled as to the purpose of the passage above the main entryway to Newgrange, although local people had spoken of the solstice wonder since time out of mind, until by chance they happened to see what occurred as the sun rose on that day.
A slender beam of light shines through, scarce even a ray, which rises and widens to fill the whole of the chamber within, lighting it brightly for those fortunate enough to see it! And after that the days lengthened and the sun returned to Ireland, bringing with it the promise of renewed life for man and beast, and perhaps even for the dead. It can still be seen to this day, although the demand is so great that there's a lottery held to see who views it on any given year. Once a pyramidal stone stood at its heart, according to earlier excavators, but that has since vanished.
From its mythical history to its present day glory, a visit to Newgrange is a must for anyone coming to Ireland!
Newgrange can be found on the map below. If you'd like to visit you can find a good list of hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation here. While you're enjoying this site you might also enjoy a little Celtic and Irish music to set the mood, or just the one or two songs if you're not interested in the whole albums. Don't forget you can get some very nice Irish jewelry for yourself or someone else as well, or for the craftier maybe make your own!
This amazing and detailed book about Newgrange here is a great read and guide.