Wish upon a star in Ireland

Mayo Dark Sky Reserve

With two Gold Tier International Dark Sky Places located here in Ireland, you can make as many wishes as you like beneath our twinkling night skies...

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” said wise Oscar Wilde. What he didn’t say was that some places are better for doing this than others!

Did you know there are 88 constellations in our skies? Ancient Greek astronomer Ptolemy named 48, while a further 40 got their own monikers by 1922. Unfortunately, 21st century light pollution means many of these can’t be seen, so if you’re seeking Orion, Ursa Major or The Plough you’ll need to head to Ireland for remarkable star gazing.

Where: Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve

According to the folks at the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve, “to really appreciate the wonder of what our ancestors saw in the heavens one needs to be away from any source of light pollution on a clear moonless night.”

When a Stargazing Guide shows you the constellations via the use of a laser beam you will always remember where they are.

Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve

Away from the hustle and bustle of the Wild Atlantic Way’s harbour villages is one of just three Gold Tier International Dark Sky Reserves on the planet – and the only one in the northern hemisphere. Explore at your leisure, or take a guided tour with a stargazing guide who will tell you the names of the constellations, their ancient stories and how to find them. Alternatively, you can take a Moonlight Walk and Talk (Sundays), where you can find out lots about the star, planets and other galaxies.

Things to do nearby: Check out the filming locations for the two most recent Star Wars movies, or get creative at the Cill Rialaig Artist Retreat!

Where: Mayo International Dark Sky Park

The second of Ireland's Gold Tier International Dark Sky Places in Ireland, County Mayo’s small population and uninhabited landscapes has rendered its night skies pitch black, making it the perfect place to look up at the stars. Nestled between the remote Nephin Mountain Range and the Wild Atlantic Way, witness the Milky Way stretch across the sky or the sight of the galaxy Andromeda – viewed across two and a half million light-years of space! As well as its starry skies, the Park protects a diversity of species so you may spot a range of wildlife as you take in the canopy of twinkling lights above you.

Things to do nearby: Take a tour around the Ballycroy National Park and the Nephin Begs, take a boat ride to the beautiful Achill Island – home to five Blue Flag beaches; or time your trip for the Mayo Dark Sky Festival in November.

Other magical places to enjoy the night sky

Where: Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis), County Donegal

To see the natural phenomenon of the Northern Lights, you need a combination of the right solar conditions, clear skies to the north and no light pollution. Notoriously hard to predict an appearance, when they do appear, it’s nothing short of spectacular as the skies light up with rolling waves of neon pink, vibrant green and piercing blue. Join stargazers, light chasers and astrophotographers on the quiet beaches of Inishowen and enjoy the magic of the Aurora Borealis.

Things to do nearby: Head up to the windswept Malin Head, the most northerly tip of Ireland, and see more of the incredible landscapes that featured in Star Wars: Episode VIII.

Where: Finn Lough Bubble Domes, County Fermanagh

Stargazers say that watching the stars allows them to reconnect with the universe. At Finn Lough Resort in County Fermanagh, they go one step further for this experience with the chance to sleep under the stars with nature all around you. This is no mere simulation – the Finn Lough Bubble Domes have transparent walls and roof, giving you a 360º view of the night sky and woodland!

Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the world exist.

Stephen Hawking

Things to do nearby: Explore the Fermanagh Lakelands by canoe, kayak, cruise boat or perhaps even try your hand at fishing!

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