Historic Winter Solstice at Knockroe Passage Tomb in Kilkenny

Historic Winter Solstice at Knockroe Passage Tomb in Kilkenny

Crowds are expected to gather on the shortest day to watch the sun set at Knockroe Passage Tomb, on the borders of Kilkenny and Tipperary, at this year’s Winter Solstice on December 21.

Known locally as ‘The Caiseal’, Knockroe’s alignment with both the rising and setting sun during the Winter Solstice makes it unique in Ireland. This year the sun rises at approximately 8.40am and sets at 3.40pm.

Built more than 5,000 years ago by the first farmers, Knockroe Passage Tomb is part of a large collection of interconnected megalithic sites in the area, including Bawnfree, the Kilmacoliver Stone Circle, and the cairn on Slievenamon.Along with the two chambers with a dual solar alignment, archaeologists have uncovered the greatest collection of megalithic art outside County Meath.

‘This unusually well preserved collection of monuments represents the surviving footprints of the human story in the region over 250 generations or more from the Stone Age to the present’, said Professor Muiris Ó Súilleabháin, UCD School of Archaeology.

‘It is an extended human story that has been played out across the foothills extending eastward from Slievenamon and the slopes flanking the upper Lingaun valley, dominated by Carrigadoon’.

That human story continues as locals and visitors alike now gather each year to celebrate the Winter Solstice as the sun sets over the foothills of Slievenamon.

The Suir Valley Environmental Group is working with the Caiseal Conservation Committee to make the Evening Solstice an even more enjoyable occasion for visitors.

Light refreshments will be available from 2pm to keep you warm and there will also be a raffle to help raise funds to prevent 126 metre high industrial wind turbines being constructed within Knockroe’s alignment with the sun.

Visitors are advised to arrive at least half an hour before the sun sets at 3.40pm to allow time to park and walk to the passage tomb site. Wellies are also advised.

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.