Beltane moon

Despite having been proven so far quite unpredictable, the moon did on this occasion just what I expected. It’s light entered half way through the gate, illuminated the northern side, just as in April, where it remained for some considerable time. There should be no or little change in June and July as to the …

Spring equinox alignment comes to an end

Being just a day short of three weeks after the equinox I was uncertain of what to expect. Theoretically, at least some of the beam should be still visible, even if it had left the inside of the monument and was by now retreating through the gate. After all the sun had kept moving daily …

Easter sunset 2015

I have struggled with this before, capturing the sun setting behind one of the Seven Sisters in the Derryveagh Mountains but my previous attempts last year were hampered by the ever so inappropriate positioned clouds. Twice a year, shortly after the spring equinox and just before the autumn one, the sun is setting behind this …

Easter Moon

April 5, Easter Sunday, a day after full moon, and spring finally seemed to have arrived. Hail and heavy winds halted and the thick cloud cover dispersed. Blue skies and sunshine at last. Arriving at the Grianán this time before the moon, I was hoping to see the growth of the beam inside the monument. …

Spring equinox – walking with the sun

March 14, was a second sunny, frosty but distinctively colder morning with a very winterly wind. Last March I pondered over the possibility of Cornamount Hill being a location to stand at the equinox to see the sun rising from behind the Grianán. So I returned, making good progress on the farmer’s new road and …

First sign of the equinox

Last year, on October 2, on a very early visit to the monument, I found to my great surprise that the beam of sunlight still crossed the entire inside of the monument, 11 days after the date of the equinox. In effort to establish the duration of the alignment, when does the first beam of …

Imbolg Moon

Seldom have I seen a moon so bright. And it dawned on me that were it not for a lunar alignment, visible every 18 and a half years, I would not stand here under a star clad sky, leaning against ancient stones, covered in snow and missed, most tragically, a truly exceptional night. The snow …

January Moon

Never have I actually conscientiously observed clouds rushing so fast across the sky than on January 4. I arrived just after quarter past five and from a short lived safety of the gate saw Lough Foyle most magnificently bathed in moonlight, squeezing through between the clouds. The strong winds confined me to the gate, which …

December Moon

December Moon The sky was passable to offer long enough openings in the clouds one day before the full moon on December 5. I arrived just before 4 pm at the time of the moon’s rising but had to wait for nearly an hour for moon and beam to make an appearance, seeking as before shelter …

Samhain Moon

My last post was very appreciatively tweeted by Vox Hiberionacum with the following line: ‘Gorgeous pics and potentially fascinating alignment if true’. With it he clearly identified a very important aspect of the lunar alignment at the Grianán – it has to be established, that what happened at the October moon was not just a one …

Autumn Equinox 2014

A sunny September made up for the misery of March last and offered the opportunity to observe the alignment for longer then before. The first attempt was made on September 15, although it seemed at first very unlikely but the heavy cloud cover started suddenly to disperse just past 7 am, leaving me still somewhat …

Lugnasad sunset from Sheriff’s Mountain

The most bewildering aspect about alignments seems to be the problem of how to establish with some certainty, if a possible alignment was an intended or unintended one. Having been able to see the sun setting behind the monument for two months by simply walking with the sun, a display, that in it’s full length …

Sunrise at the Raven’s Beak

The recent heat wave, a short taste of summer, still only provided one clear enough sky for observation on the morning of July 24.  The sun rose from behind the hills of Inishowen Head at Srúb Brain (Shrove), just a few days away from making her appearance out of the sea. Placenames of Inishowen are hard …

Still on Minkey Hill

What was first thought of as a summer solstice alignment has now stretched to at least a Beltaine/Lugnasad one, marking the beginning and end of summer. On July 16, I was standing close to the masts, a couple of hundred meters away from my location on June 15, with a nearly equal distance left on …

Minkey Hill, solstice sunset take 2

The sun was seen setting for the second time behind the monument ten days later on June 15. Arriving early to inspect the hill closer and in particular the visibility towards the Grianán from its southern extremity, I discovered to my great relief that I will be still left with ridge to spare at the time …

Minkey Hill, solstice sunset take 1

After last years tribulations, involving several test runs and too many clouds, only to find myself standing on the wrong hill in the end, a promising clear sky on the evening of June 5, was not to be snubbed at to undertake the first attempt to see the sun setting behind the Grianán at the …

Elagh Castle, the real capital of Ulster

The following is a transcript of the talk by Cormac McSparron (Queens University Belfast) on May 22 in the Exchange, Buncrana by Ruth Garvey-Williams and I would like to use this opportunity to express sincere gratitude to Ruth for recording Cormac’s outstanding talk and truly heart-felt appreciation to our speaker, Cormac Mc Sparron, for sharing …

Beltane 2014

Beltane came and went but no sun rose from the sea. On May 6 the sun broke through but too late and in a piercing winter wind, chasing low flying clouds across the hills. I am still hoping for a clear morning in the next few days, just to see how far the sun has …

Sunset Easter Monday 2014

Often, it seems, we remain unaware of a certain beauty, particularly the kind which is familiar, close and just here. It applies to the people, who surround us, as well as places, leaving us unwitting as to their necessity for our very being and poorer for it. But sometimes we are fortunate to receive a …

Spring equinox 2014

Apparently certain years in one’s life can turn into the collected accumulation of everything going wrong for no reason at all. 2014 seems to be such a year for me and so far would have been more comfortable spent in hibernation. Even the spring equinox basically bailed and was at best half an equinox, with …

Imbolg – Spring in waiting

With wintry winds wailing, clouds scattering across the sky like blood rushed warriors into the field of battle and neither sun nor warmth making any encouraging appearance, one could easily remain unconvinced by spring being just around the corner, never mind having arrived. Fast flying veils of low lying clouds with even more and much …

Here we go again

The year, now past, will be a peculiar one to remember, mainly for being at odds with itself and everything in it, seemingly leaving events disconnect without a flow but being in a rush to pass nevertheless. An appreciation develops, as a result, of the ancient urge to be in command of time, which seems …

Excavation at the old O’Doherty Castle at Elaghmore

A second excavation took place by archaeologists from Queens University Belfast at the Castle of Elagh at Elaghmore from August 14th- 23rd. The team and the dig were received with much interest, for archaeological excavations on Inishowen are nearly unheard of, leaving our peninsula and former island often unmentioned in an all-Ireland historical context with …

Autumn Equinox 2013

The sun seemed to tease us this time, hiding behind a band of clouds above the Magilligan Hills, as if somehow reluctant to make an appearance. Although more probably is, that we got there too early and while waiting, time always refuses to flow at average speed. The first rays of light entered the gate …

The solstice of discontent

In my mind I could see the sun approaching Grianán in a high arch from above, as if someone fired a glowing canon ball towards it, only to gently settle right behind the monument, leaving its black silhouette burning for a few short moments on the disappearing disc. The radiant red smoulder of the aftermath …

Holywell Hill – Part 3

Having been unable to work out any connection between Greenan and Holywell Hill in the comfort of my home, I went for a walk along Lough Swilly on a very agreeable afternoon, in the hope that motion and fresh air might proof beneficial to gain some progress on the matter. And on my way back …

Holywell Hill – Part 2

As I got home there was very little information to be found. I reached first for Mabel Colhoun’s The Heritage of Inishowen, remembering a short entry at the end: (Unexamined) Holy Well (Early Christian) Cairn (Megalithic) 47/11 Townland Altaghaderry Situation: Alt. 859 ft. On Holywell Hill (859 ft.) on march between Counties Donegal and Londonderry. …