A Winter Solstice Alignment
near Westport, Co. Mayo

When one thinks of the winter solstice in Ireland their thoughts turn at once to the mighty megalithic tumuli of the Boyne valley the most famous of which is Newgrange, with its mighty mound and passage-grave and its world renowned solar-alignment. However, closer to home, at Killadangan near Westport, members of the Mayo Historical & Archaeological Society have discovered that a stone-row, situated inside an ancient enclosure on a salt-marsh, has an NE-SW orientation, and actually lines up with a niche in the hills where the sun appears to set on December 21st, a most significant date in the ancient world. Observations have been carried out over a number of years and these have revealed that the sun sets at that particular datum at 1.50pm on the afternoon of the winter solstice.
The phenomenon is the subject of an article written by Gerry Bracken of Westport in the current Winter (1999) edition of the magazine "Archaeology Ireland".

Winter Solstice
Click to enlarge

The site has a number of other interesting features including a fulachta-fiadha (an ancient cooking site), a low stone circle, and several other outlying standing stones which may also have archeo-astronomical significance.
The photo shows the stone-row and the sun, as it appears to set in the niche on a ridge near Croagh Patrick.

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