GD35 Summer Solstice
The Solstice festival also referred to as midsummer’s eve, was traditionally celebrated across Ireland every year at midnight on the 23rd of June, and fires were lit as part of a Celtic celebration honouring the goddess Áine and the Queen of Munster, is associated with the sun, fertility, and protecting crops and animals. It was the custom for the cinders from the fires to be thrown on fields as an ‘offering’ to protect the crops. At midday on the 21st the sun reaches its zenith in the sky. It is the longest day of the year, and the point at which the on the Solstice day the sun seems to just hang there without moving – in fact, the word “solstice” is from the Latin word solstitium, which literally translates to “sun stands still.” The travels of the sun were marked and recorded and Stone circles such as the Great Grange Stone Circle, near Lough Gur, County Limerick were oriented to highlight the rising of the sun on the day of the summer solstice, and people have gathered for millennia to watch the sun rise there and to celebrate the sun and the year ahead.