THE LOTTERY DRAW for the Winter Solstice at Newgrange is now open and with over 30,000 applications submitted in 2012, competition is tough.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Newgrange Manager Clare Tuffy said numbers have remained “consistently high” each year since the Neolithic tomb in Meath was first opened to the public for the solstice in 2000.
The visitor centre sees a sudden surge in applications as soon as the last solstice has happened and all forms are counted, bundled into boxes and kept safe in the centre’s store until it’s time for the draw.
Tuffy said the lucky 50 winners in the lottery are chosen by children from three local schools who also have to win a draw in their schools in order to pick a name, making it seemingly impossible to swindle your way to a win.
“It’s really exciting for the children, especially if they pull out the name of a person from Canada or the Philippines or somewhere like that,” she said. “Some of the people who are chosen send letters to the kids as well, thanking them and some bring gifts so it’s lovely for them.”
Ten names are chosen and each person gets to bring one guest into the chamber with them. There is also a reserve list in case one of the winners has to drop out.
Tuffy said for the winners there is no guarantee of seeing the light come into the chamber, “it’s just a matter of getting in there, waiting and wishing and hoping that the sun will shine on the day that they’re here, but if it does is absolutely brilliant.”
If you don’t manage to make it on to either of the lists, all visitors are welcome on the mornings of the 18 to 23 December to stand outside the monument and join the festivities.
For Irish tourists interested in the Newgrange experience, now is the time to visit to avoid the crowds as there is an upper limit on the number of people who can visit the world heritage site and getting in for a tour can be difficult in the summer.
“Inevitably we have long queues in the summer because the weather is nice and there are lots of foreign tourists, we even have people waiting outside the door early in the morning when we open,” she said.
“We’d advise anyone living in Ireland to visit in the winter when they can have it to themselves, there’s lots of time to explore and they can really enjoy the visit.”
The Neolithic Tomb at Newgrange is managed by the Office of Public Works.