THE summer solstice was heralded in with crowds and cow-horns at an ancient stone circle in Limerick.
The Grange Stone Circle in Lough Gur hosted a special dawn greeting this Wednesday morning, guests – some travelling from across the world – keen to capture the first rays of the solstice attended the event at the hugely significant site.
An ensemble of bronze-age and iron-age instruments – including replicas of ancient cow-horns - played by Ancient Music Ireland, together with the spiritual and Celtic singing of Nóirín Ní Riain and her son Moley O Súilleabháin, cut through the morning rain to greet the dawn at the circa 4,000 year old site, which is located just 20 minutes from Limerick city.
Many had gathered overnight, staying in tents and camper vans adjacent to the site, ready for the solstice as it arrived shortly after 5am. And while the overcast conditions dulled the eagerly anticipated visuals somewhat, the sense of occasion was undimmed.
Performer Billy MagFhloinn said: "It was a privilege to perform here this morning. The Summer Solstice was obviously a very significant time thousands of years ago but it’s great to see that people still see the significance of it.
"It’s a very special morning and there’s no place I can think that would be better to greet it than at the Grange Stone Circle on the shores of Lough Gur. There’s nowhere like it in the world."
Kate Harrold, Lough Gur Development manager, said the site’s uniqueness is from a confluence of acoustics and astronomy achieved by its ancient designers.
"It is a well-kept secret but more and more people are starting to find out about this area and they are coming to visit. It’s events like this morning that really helps us to make sure everyone knows about this area and that they come to visit Lough Gur," she said.
Colleen Wimmer from the US said: “We’re on holidays for my son to learn fiddle music and were going to be here on the Solstice. We heard of the possibility of something happening here. I thought it was astoundingly beautiful, especially with the music. You can get a feeling of maybe what it was actually like. The horns were really just tremendous, plus the singing. It’s perfect.”