Every year on the summer solstice hundreds of people gather at the Hill of Tara, in County Meath, to mark the longest day of the year. People have been marking the summer solstice at the historic site for thousands of years. Today, many people make it into a vacation of celebration, visiting the ancient sacred sites in Ireland.
The summer solstice is one of the eight sacred days in Ireland, the times when the old Celtic world stopped to celebrate. Others include Imbolc (St. Brigid's Day), Bealtaine (May Day) and Samhain (Halloween). The summer solstice is marked in parts of Ireland by bonfires on the side of the road. It is usually celebrated on June 23, the longest day of the year (except this year when it's celebrated today, June 21). In rural Ireland, communities gather for their local bonfire and celebrate the longest day of the year with song and dance.
Back in 2015, the events at the Hill of Tara, depicted in the video below, 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 too 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 in 2015. “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.”
How will you be celebrating the summer solstice? Let us know in the comments section, below, or take a look at our guide if you haven't yet made any plans.
* Originally published in 2015.