The Ring of Gullion Winter Solstice Festival Hosts Lectures on Land of Fire and Ice

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership as part of their Winter Solstice Festival, are hosting a series of enlightening lectures on the significant events which have shaped the landscape and culture of the area.

Slieve Gullion. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Slieve Gullion at the Winter Solstice. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Roisin Mulgrew said, “The exciting programme will incorporate a range of prestigious local and national speakers laying claim to the reputation of the Festival and the significance of this area with regards to the history, architecture and geology of Ireland.  The speakers will share their expertise on a variety of fascinating topics which will provide a really engaging and informative series of lectures”.

Kicking off the programme on Tuesday 28 November at 7.30pm in Tí Chulainn Cultural Activity Centre, Dr Kirstin Lemon from the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland will speak about the Ring of Gullion area and the formation of the landscape tens of millions of years ago. Dr Lemon is an animated speaker who will explain the Ring of Gullion’s complex and unique geological landform. Unparalleled elsewhere in Ireland or the UK, it was the first ring dyke in the world to be geologically mapped and is one of the ‘Top 100 Geosites of UK and Ireland’.

On the 30 November at 8pm in Dromintee GAC Club, well known local community historians, Una Walsh and Seamus Murphy will regale the audience with stories and anecdotes of life in the 15th and 16th Century - the time of the O’Neills and Lord Mountjoy. They will explain how certain strategic events in the Ring of Gullion changed the entire fate of Ulster. This discussion is bound to be popular so book early to be sure of a seat.

This December marks fifty years since M J O’Kelly first investigated the winter solstice at Newgrange and on Thursday 7 December at 7.30pm, Dr Frank Prendergast, one of the leading experts in the country on the prehistoric phenomenon of winter solstices and the passage tomb architecture, will be speaking in Cross Square Hotel. He will shine a light on the complex significance of the route of the sun on the shortest day and its impact on ancient grave design.

Solsticial alignments also light up Lough Crew and Thomastown in Co Meath and Townly Hall passage tomb in Co Louth. Dr Predergast will weave fabulous linkages between these sites with evidence drawn from as far a field as Knockroe in Co Kilkenny, to tell the tale of a sophisticated and mathematically advanced civilisation that in some cases, predates the pyramids.

Dr Prendergast’s latest article was published in Archaeology Ireland and publishers, Wordwell Ltd will also be there on the evening with copies for sale.

Check out the Ring of Gullion website for the full programme of events and book your spaces early to avoid disappointment or call into the office in Crossmaglen Community Centre, O'Fiaich Square, 028 3082 8590.