Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Hayes announces major change for Winter Solstice at Newgrange this year

Mr. Brian Hayes, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) today announced that the OPW will be running a new Art Competition for primary school children aged 10 and over, with the winning entrants being present for the Winter Solstice in the Newgrange Chamber on December 21st 2012.

Newgrange at night under the stars © Anthony Murphy
Speaking at Newgrange National Monument this morning the Minister said: “I am delighted to announce this new initiative, which will provide a wonderful opportunity for six lucky children, along with a parent/guardian, to enter the chamber at Newgrange on this very special morning.

“I think this new competition is a unique opportunity for children to learn about our heritage and affords the privilege of attending the Solstice to a wide range of people – schoolchildren and lottery draw winners alike.” the Minister said.

In addition to announcing the new children’s art competition, the Minister was at the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre to preside over the annual lottery draw to select the names of the people who will be allowed access to the Newgrange chamber over the winter solstice period. This year, the OPW received almost 30,000 applications, from destinations all around the world, proof of the enduring popularity of this amazing annual cultural showpiece.

The 50 winning tickets were again chosen by children from three local national schools, Donore NS, Slane NS and Knockcommon NS and hailed from locations such as The United States, The Philippines, France, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, England and many Counties throughout Ireland. The winning applicants will have access to the chamber on one of the days between 18 and 23 December. On these dates, light from the rising sun enters the Newgrange chamber and illuminates the ancient passage tomb.

The winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, also marks the changing of the seasons, when days become longer and nights become shorter. It was considered by the ancients as a time of growth, a time of rebirth and, to this day, marks an important day in our calendar.

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