The Winter Solstice on Uisneach

Frosty Uisneach

The Winter Solstice 2023 on Uisneach

The Winter Solstice, known also as the Hiemal or Hibernal Solstice, occurs when the Earth’s North Pole reaches its maximum tilt away from the Sun. The word ‘solstice’ comes from the Latin word ‘sol’ (sun) and ‘sistere’ (to stand still), referring to the actual moment when the midday sun (here in the Northern Hemisphere) reaches its most southerly point in the sky before reversing direction.

This will happen in Ireland at exactly 03:27 on Friday, 22nd December. The Irish word for solstice is ‘An Grianstad’, its literal translation is; ‘the sun stop’.

Being celebrated for over 5,000 years in Ireland, makes it is one of the most important dates in the ancient calendar. How do we know ?, we hear you ask. . . Well we know that many of our ancient monuments are aligned to either the sunrise or sunset on this day. It could be that our ancestors understood this event as the reversal of the sun’s waning presence in the sky which has in turn (no pun intended !) led to the concept of re-birth being associated with the Solstice.

Here on Uisneach we will be celebrating the Winter Solstice at 12:00 on Friday, 22nd December. We will walk up from the Visitor Centre, learning of the many customs and traditions. We’ll hear the wonderful lore and of the Irish characters associated with this time of year. Let’s hope to get a glimpse of the sunset too, on the beginning of the Ancient New Year !

Some of the megalithic monuments that our ancestors left on the Irish landscape and aligned to the Winter Solstice at sun-rise & sunset are:

Drombeg Stone Circle, Co. Cork – sunset.

Newgrange Passage Tomb, Co. Meath – sunrise.

Dowth Passage Tomb, Co. Meath – sunset.

Knockroe Passage Tomb, Co. Kilkenny – unusually, both sunrise & sunset.

Slieve Gullion Passage Tomb, Co. Armagh – sunset.

If visiting any monument please remember that we leave no trace. . . 

Burn no fires, we are contaminating the ground beneath them. Offerings should be nature based and native to our country. For example; oranges mostly never decompose and are not native to Ireland. Shells are not found inland but water is everywhere and leaves no trace. Grass clooties are a beautiful and sensitive way of leaving a gentle energy behind and no damage caused !

Adults: €22.50

Children 6+: €6.00

LOCATION: The Hill of Uisneach    EIRCODE: N91 R6C9

TIME: 12:00 – 15:00

DATE: Friday, 22nd December 2023

Please be advised:

Tickets ready for scanning at the gate, please. Dress for the occasion ! It will be chilly on the Hill so please dress accordingly – we suggest a good pair of walking waterproof boots/shoes. Scarves, hats and gloves to keep us cosy too ! We will have warm drinks afterwards at the Visitor Centre to warm us all up.


Dec 22 2023


12:00 am - 12:00 am



More Info



Uisneach Hill
Uisneach Hill, Rathnew, Co. Westmeath
QR Code