Our first contribution to this years’ #begorrahthon
In Ireland, a man of reason is drawn to a true mystery older than the Pyramids and Stonehenge in this enthralling story about ethereal secrets by New York Times bestselling author Colm Tóibín.
During the winter solstice, on the shortest day and longest night of the year, the ancient burial chamber at Newgrange is empowered. Its mystifying source is a haunting tale told by locals.
Professor O’Kelly believes an archaeologist’s job is to make known only what can be proved. He is undeterred by ghost stories, idle speculation, and caution. Much to the chagrin of the living souls in County Meath. As well as those entombed in the sacred darkness of Newgrange itself. They’re determined to protect the secret of the light, guarded for more than five thousand years. And they know O’Kelly is coming for it.
Can archaeologists be considered scientists or grave robbers? Colm Toibin explores this question in this book. A site in Ireland called Newgrange or Bru’ na Boinne was built 3200 years before Christ as a resting place for those who have passed on. Professor O’Kelly is exploring the site and trying to decipher the meaning on various carved rock slabs at the site.
The spirits who inhabit the site are not particularly fond of this meddling educator. The secret of the site is the inclusion of light once a year that allows a spiritual energy rebirth for the inhabitants. This happens on the winter solstice when the entire chamber is alight. The local town folk prefer that the interloper stay away but he does not take the hint. The overall feeling is to let the dead rest in peace!
I enjoyed the interplay between the spirits and Professor O’Kelly. One of the more traveled of the spirits warns the others as the Professor comes near. Clever anecdotes between the spirits add a flavor of community to the site and are humorous to read. Road blocks are thrown in the professors’ way to help keep him from discovering the overall secret of the structure.
This quick read begs the question; should graves be exhumed or desecrated for historical and/or scientific knowledge? Many great treasures have been found in graves and monuments built thousands of years ago. True, we do learn some things from these discoveries but at what cost to the original inhabitants and their intent? The argument that we can discover how they lived during that time period doesn’t seem to be strongly valid to me. Exhuming a corpse, grave, or sarcophagus for historical knowledge seems a very selfish and weak argument.
The small town near the structure has kept the secret of the design of the structure. Shouldn’t mankind show the same reverence and consideration? 4 stars – C.E. Williams
Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars
Genre: 45-Minute Literature & Fiction Short Reads, Kindle Singles Literature & Fiction, Literary Short Stories
Publisher: Amazon Original Stories
- ASIN : B08GBPRXQC
Print Length: 31 pages
Publication Date: November 3, 2020
Source: Local Library
Title Link: The Shortest Day [Amazon]
The Author: Colm Tóibín is the author of four previous novels, The South, The Heather Blazing, The Story of the Night, and The Blackwater Lightship, which was shortlisted for the 1999 Booker Prize. He lives in Dublin.
©2021 CE Williams – V Williams