Mayo Dark Sky Park

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First International Dark Sky Park In Ireland Receives Accreditation 



The International Dark-Sky Association has granted Gold-Tier International Dark Sky Park status to Ballycroy National Park & Wild Nephin


County Mayo, situated in western Ireland, is widely celebrated for its rugged and unspoiled landscape on the edge of Europe’s wild Atlantic coastline. A Gold tier classification is an honour reserved for the most exceptional of dark skies and stunning nightscapes. This recognition completes the “360 degree experience” that this stunning region has to offer.


The award is the first International Dark Sky Park in Ireland and is a wonderful recognition for the region’s pristine skies, enhancing its existing protected landscapes and wilderness regions. This is the second IDA designation in Ireland. The first is Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve in County Kerry.



Ballycroy National Park and the adjoining Wild Nephin (Coillte) expands over 110 square kilometers of mountainous Atlantic blanket bog and forest.  Viewing sites for visiting astronomers have been designated and graded by ease of access and facilities available. Signature viewing sites include the Claggan Mountain Boardwalk, Letterkeen Bothy and Ballycroy National Park Visitor Centre, which have excellent interpretive and parking facilities.



The Mayo Dark-Sky designation follows a lengthy period of night sky surveying and quality monitoring by students of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.  Assisted by Professor Brian Espey of Trinity College Dublin’s Astrophysics Department, the research resulted in collaboration among communities in Newport, Ballycroy & Mulrannny together with Ballycroy National Park, Coillte Forestry, Mayo County Council, Mayo South West Development and Galway Astronomy Club. The group formed the “Friends of Mayo Dark-Skies” steering committee.



The Mayo International Dark Sky Park already has some exciting events planned for the coming months, including The Mayo Dark-Sky Festival to be held 28-30 October.


About the IDA Dark Sky Places Program

IDA established the International Dark Sky Places conservation program in 2001 to recognize excellent stewardship of the night sky. Designations are based on stringent outdoor lighting standards and innovative community outreach. Since the program began, 14 Communities, 33  Parks, 10 Reserves, two Sanctuaries and three Dark Sky Friendly Developments of Distinction have received International Dark Sky designations. For more information about the International Dark Sky Places Program, visit


About IDA

The International Dark Sky Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Tucson, Arizona, U.S., advocates for the protection of the nighttime environment and dark night skies by educating policymakers and the public about night sky conservation and promoting environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. More information about IDA and its mission may be found at


Contact details:


Ballycroy National Park – Bríd Colhoun, Head Guide (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).  Telephone + 353 98 49888



Talk by Dr. Frank Prendergast on "Archaeo-astronomy in Ireland"

Friday 30th September 2016 @ 8.00-9.00PM

Free Event

Join us on the 30th of September (8pm - 9pm plus some time allowance for discussion and chat afterwards) for a talk given by Dr. Frank Prendergast on "Archaeo-astronomy in Ireland".

Dr. Prendergast is a former Head of the Spatial Sciences Dept. and emeritus research fellow of Dublin Institute of Technology. As a chartered geodetic surveyor, his experience spans four decades in the mapping sciences both in Ireland and overseas and would be highly commended as a lecturer and writer at home and abroad in the field of archaeo-astronomy. This particular discipline has a special connection to the dark skies as it seeks to broaden our understanding of ancient societies and how they engaged with and interpreted our night skies.

We look forward to the event and hope to see you there.