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 of the summer solstice.
Apart from some loose stones, of which the summit otherwise seems to be stripped, I could discover nothing that may have indicated even in the subtlest of hints any former activities other than the dug out ‘pond’.
Trying to find a somewhat more detailed account than fires were lit on St. John’s Eve in the vicinity still left me with no placename or site, except a very general mentioning by George Vaughan Sampson in his ‘Explanatory of the Chart and Survey of the County of London-Derry’ (1814, p. 330)

Midsummer Fires.

Another trace of Phenician rites, is that of Midsummer’s-eve. It was anciently a festival in honour of Baal, the Sun, on the day of his greatest glory. At his decline, the mountain tops were resorted to, for the purpose of a last glimpse of the all-vivifying power. His departure was succeeded by songs and dances, accompanied with torches lighted to his honour. This rite is still observed, by the aboriginal Irish. On the evening which concludes the 21st of June, the hills, and “high places”, are instantly in a blaze of bonfire light so soon as the Sun has sunk below the horizon.

The intensity of the symbolism of the sun setting right behind the Grianán on the longest day in the year does not appear to be an accidental occurrence or coincidence, for as I found out last year on Holywell Hill, this observation has to be made from a point where the Grianán is cleared from the higher ranking hills of Fanad or the sun will be setting behind one of them.


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