The winter solstice sunrise was streamed live from Newgrange on Tuesday morning, though clouds disrupted the view.
Despite the dull day, crowds gathered outside the Neolithic passage tomb in Co Meath to celebrate the rising sun of the winter solstice.
Visits inside the chamber were prohibited for the second year in a row due to concerns over Covid-19. Instead, the annual event was broadcast online on Tuesday and Monday morning by Heritage Ireland and the Office of Public Works (OPW).
A third and final live stream will take place on Wednesday from 8.45am, though cloud is forecast in the area again.
Minister of State for the OPW Patrick O’Donovan said he understood there was “disappointment” about the closure of the passage tomb’s chamber because of the pandemic, especially for the winter solstice.
“But we have to be mindful of the Government guidelines in relation to Covid-19 and the health and safety of our visitors at all times,” he said.
“Watching the light creep into the 5,000-year-old passage tomb in real time is a moving event that has the power to fill us both with wonder at the ancient architects’ ingenuity and with hope for the future,” Mr O’Donovan said.
The solar alignment of the passage tomb at Newgrange to face the rising sun on the winter solstice was originally rediscovered by Prof Michael J O’Kelly in 1967. Other researchers have since then validated O’Kelly’s interpretation.
Analysis of high-resolution imagery taken during last year’s research programme has added to the body of evidence that the solar illumination of the tomb was intentional.
“The solstice has long been celebrated as a time of rebirth and renewal as we look forward to the prospect of brighter days ahead,” Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan said.
“As we continue our Newgrange Solstice Research Project I am very excited to learn more about how the dawn sun on the shortest days of the year interacts with this remarkable monument and how it may have engaged and enthralled our ancestors over 5,000 years ago.”