“Shameful” criminal act sees inauguration stone of the High Kings of Ireland, the Lia Fail, defaced.Wikimedia

Hundreds of people gathered at the Hill of Tara, in County Meath, on Sunday, June 21, to mark the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.

Although it was a chilly and overcast morning, a break in the clouds allowed the light of the sun to be seen on the eastern horizon when it rose at 4:57am, the Irish Times reports.

People have been marking the summer solstice at the historic site for thousands of years. Today, many people make it a weekend celebration.

The events of Sunday were led by local man J P Fay, who  carried a horned staff and dressed in a gabardine cloak with a depiction of Morrigu, the Celtic Goddess of War, on the back.

“If you scratch the ground here, you are not to far away from our old pagan beliefs,” said Fay, who offered gifts of fruit, meat, wine and spirits to the ancestors.

Paul Dolan, a practicing male pagan witch, said he never misses solstice celebrations at the Hill of Tara.

“This is the turning point of the year, one of our major festivals. Nature is wherever you find it,” he said.

Illup Gravengaard traveled all the way from Sedona, AZ for the ritual.

“Ireland has been a key spot for me to come and visit. I have heard so many stories about the Hill of Tara. It feels like a place of power. It is so beautiful to be here this morning.”