The kidney-shaped Megalithic passage tomb covers an area of over one acre. Its front is covered by a white quartz facade and is surrounded by twelve standing stones, which at one time may possibly have been a complete circle of 35 stones.
The entrance stone is decorated with megalithic art: swirls, curls, spirals, and other designs, including the well-recognized tri-spiral design. This spiral design is often referred to as a Celtic design despite its being carved at least 2500 years before the Celts reached Ireland.
A carved stone lintel sits above the entrance, which in turn leads to the interior chamber. Inside the chamber more tri-spiral designs decorate the walls.
Religious site or tomb? No one really knows. But what they do know is that at sunrise on every Winter Soltice a shaft of sunlight shines directly through the roof box, over the entrance, down the stone passage, and into the inner chamber. For 17 minutes at dawn on this day, and a few mornings on either side of it, this inner chamber and all its stones are brilliantly illuminated. Every year, 100 lucky people, drawn by lottery, are awarded the privilege of witnessing this special moment from inside the chamber.
The day we stood inside the chamber was not the Winter Soltice, so the guide simulated the event with electric light. He first extinguished all light, making the chamber too dark to even see a hand in front of your face. Then slowly an electric light crept down the passageway and illuminated the dome-shaped stone room where we all huddled. The magic moment was slightly marred by the distracting chatter of two toddlers and their parents, who did not care to respect the concept of mood.
After our tour of the chamber, we walked around the circumference, dodging raindrops, before slogging back to the bus. And here we came across possibly the only grumpy person in Ireland — he was driving this bus. But we excused his sourness after acknowledging he had undoubtedly endured a very long season of annoying tourists.