Unique Solstice Ceremony at Kerry’s Oldest Burial Site

Reconnecting with our past…A unique cultural celebration of the Summer Solstice at the iconic 6,000 year-old Killaclohane Portal Tomb near Milltown promises to be a special highlight of this year’s County Fleadh Cheoil which takes place in the mid-Kerry town later this month. Dingle Druid, Juli Ní Mhaoileoin, centre, with Urs Wenk, Dance Drum Ireland, Joan Greene, Singer, Aoibhe Horan, Harpist and Poet Eileen Sheehan. Photograph:Valerie O’Sullivan


A unique cultural celebration of mid-Kerry’s musical heritage and the Summer Solstice will be held at the iconic 6,000 year-old Killaclohane Portal Tomb near Milltown later this month. 

The event will be the  highlight of this year’s County Fleadh Cheoil which takes place in the mid-Kerry town later this month. The organisers are holding an open-air celebration at tomb, Kerry’s oldest man-made structure and oldest burial site, on 21st June, the longest day of the year, against the majestic backdrop of Dingle Bay and the Sliabh Mish Mountains.

Ancient Music

With music from centuries ago, dramatic percussion, poetry, song, a Solstice bonfire and a druidic ceremony, the event at Killaclohane invokes the spiritual connections with the Neolithic Age and draws on the theme for Fleadh Cheoil Chiarraí this year: ‘Reconnecting with the Past.’ Featuring some of Kerry’s best musicians and performers, the event at the tomb will seek to connect with the cultural heritage of the area over many centuries and millennia.

Dated to 3,800 BC

‘The enchanting portal tomb at Killaclohane has recently been dated to 3,800 BC and is the county’s oldest manmade structure and burial site. Evidence suggests it was the site of a human settlement, one of the first such examples in western Europe,’ said chairman of Fleadh Cheoil Chiarraí, Owen O’Shea. ‘So, as the second day of the Fleadh happens be 21st June, we decided to honour our ancestors with a unique celebration of our musical history and heritage.’

Recitation and Harp Music

The event will open with a recitation and harp music from father and daughter, Chris and Aoibhe Horan and will feature a blessing ceremony with the Dingle Druid, Juli Ní Mhaoileoin as well as the lighting of a Solstice Bonfire with percussive rhythms from Drum Dance Ireland. Uileann piper Barry Lynch and harpist Reidun Schlesinger will perform some of the ancient music of Ireland and a group of local musicians will play the tunes they listened and danced to in mid-Kerry a century ago. Sliabh Luachra poet, Eileen Sheehan will recite some of her work and singer, Joan Greene will celebrate the different international Solstice ceremonies from around the world.

Spectacular Backdrops

‘The tomb is set against one of the most spectacular backdrops in Kerry – Caherconree, the mouth of the River Maine and the Dingle Peninsula. It has to be seen to be believed. The event will be suitable for all ages and we will keep everyone well fed with a pig on a spit. We’ll finish with a grand finale involving all the performers as the sun sets over the historic site,’ said Owen.

Arrive and Park

The event begins at 8pm on 21st June and there is a €10 admission fee for over-16s. As there is no parking on site, those attending will be transported from the Mid-Kerry Mart car park to the site on a free shuttle bus. Attendees are advised to arrive and park up early from 7pm. Toilet facilities and limited seating will be available and everyone should be dressed appropriately for the prevailing weather conditions. Enquiries to fleadh2018@hotmail.com

Open-air Performances

Fleadh Cheoil Chiarraí, hosted by Milltown-Listry Comhaltas Branch takes place in Milltown from 20th to 24th June and will feature free open-air performances from Stockton’s Wing, All-Ireland champions, the Shandrum Céilí Band, a Sunday céilí with Uí Bhriain, family fun and frolics, Spin City Funfair, competitions, sessions, a street entertainment competition and lots more. Follow @MilltownCCE and @Kerrycomhaltas for more information.


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