Lottery draw for Newgrange visit during winter solstice will not go ah…

The Neolithic passage tomb of Newgrange will keep closed to the public for the winter solstice of 2021, the Office of Public Works (OPW) has announced.

The annual lottery draw for sought-after spots inside the chamber for sunrise on December 21st will not go ahead this year “as the chamber . . . remains closed to the public”.

The OPW announced on Thursday that the astronomical occurrence will, for the second consecutive year, be viewable online only.

“Due to its exceptional success last year, the hugely meaningful Solstice Sunrise event will once more be live-streamed from within the chamber,” a spokesman said. The digital variation will permit everyone to experience “this wonderful occurrence from the comfort of their homes in locations throughout the world”.

The Neolithic passage tomb of Newgrange. Photograph: Ken Williams

More than 30,500 people entered the winter solstice lottery in 2019 for one of 60 places inside the chamber as the sun rose on the shortest day of the year. Winners that year hailed from all across Ireland, in addition as from as far away as Australia and the United States.

The OPW said the continued absence of visitors from the 5,000-year-old tomb presents an additional opportunity for research, tracking and measuring the movement of the winter sunlight streaming by the roof box into the passage.

The Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre and the site at the Newgrange monument are currently open to visitors, in line with Government guidelines. Access to the site is obtainable by the visitor centre only.

Hundreds of people usually gather around the monument to mark the winter solstice each year.

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