September brings a sense of equilibrium to many in the modern world. Summer vacations and adventures are over. Students are back to school. Life regains its balance as we settle into familiar routines. But there’s a little more to it. Not quite something in the stars, but something in the sun. Autumn equinox, the point where the daylight and the night’s darkness are equal, is on September 23rd, 2022. It’s the point halfway between the summer and winter solstice.
The sun’s movements and the changing length of the days was critically important to ancient Ireland. The change to our daily schedules is driven more by convenience and custom, but centuries ago it was more primal. Before electricity and our modern understanding of the cosmos, the amount of daylight hours dictated the rhythms of life. Going out after dark was a whole different thing before electric light. And the sun was vital for growing and harvesting crops. Our Irish ancestors built sophisticated structures related to the sun’s movements and decorated them with elaborate carvings. Their intricate, swirling designs, which now feature on many Irish gifts, give us some insight into how important it was to them to keep track of the sun’s movements through the year.
Gifts Inspired by Ancient Ireland
Loughcrew: Inspiration for Celtic Jewelry and Other Irish Gifts
County Meath is home to Ireland’s most famous neolithic carvings, including Loughcrew. At the top of a steep hill sits this ancient cairn. The view from outside the cairn is incredible. On a clear day, visitors can see the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains, Slieve Bloom in counties Laois and Offaly, Slieve Gullion in County Armagh, the Cooley Mountains in Couth Louth and the Mourne Mountains in County Down. It’s no wonder why our ancestors chose this spot to build the cairns.
Loughcrew hosts many stone cairns, but the one known as Cairn T is the star. This one was built to capture the sun’s rays on the equinox so that they illuminate the chamber inside. When they do, the elaborately beautiful carvings are clear to see, precious Irish gifts that have endured for centuries. Mostly stylized circular shapes, the carvings appear to represent the sun. Or they might symbolize the cyclical nature of time as we pass through the four seasons again and again. We have no key for these symbols, so we can only make educated guesses.
Views of Loughcrew
Loughcrew is an unforgettable experience. Many, many spots in Ireland offer stunning scenery, but these ancient cairns give us a tangible connection with our deepest roots. It’s easy to see why the designs carved into the rock here and at nearby Newgrange resonate with us. Those intricate lines connect us to our history, our ancestors. They tell us tantalizing fragments of our story.
Irish gifts, especially jewelry, featuring these neolithic designs are a beautiful way to make that connection part of our everyday, modern lives. They can be a touchstone in a busy, high-tech world and a distinctively gorgeous touch to your personal style.