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Mayo Dark Sky Park

Ireland’s first International Dark Sky Park

Mayo is now home to Ireland’s first International Dark Sky Park, showcasing some of the darkest, most pristine skies in the world.

Nestled between the remote Nephin Mountain Range and the unspoiled Atlantic coastline, the Dark Sky Park extends across an area of 150km2. Its borders encompass the Wild Nephin National Park.

There’s so much you can discover by looking up at the night skies. On a clear night here in Mayo, you can see over 4,500 twinkling stars, along with other planets in our solar system, The Milky Way and even meteor showers all with the naked eye.

We have committed to keeping the skies above us naturally dark for present and future generations to enjoy these wonders of the night sky.

Just imagine the picture: the Irish wilderness, not a sound, not a sound, and you, plunged into this idyllic setting, your head in the air, with thousands of stars above you. No city lights: just you, your friends or family, together sharing this special moment!

This is what the Mayo Dark Sky Park offers you. On a clear night in Mayo, you can dream of more than 4,500 twinkling stars, as well as other planets in our solar system, the Milky Way and even meteors, all in front of the naked eye.

The park has 3 sky observation points, located in easily accessible locations.

Wild Nephin National Park Visitor Centre
Claggan Mountain Coastal Trail
The Robert Lloyd Praeger Centre

The 3 offer an exceptional show on the sky, without human light pollution from the cities.

Where the darkest skies reveal the brightest stars, Join us and discover the beauty of our Dark Skies. less than a hour away from the McWilliam Park Hotel.

A little History

Mayo Dark Sky Park, encompassing both Ballycroy National Park and the adjacent Wild Nephin Wilderness, now known as the Wild Nephin National Park, comprise about 15,000 hectares of protected lands in the Owenduff/Nephin Mountains area of the Barony of Erris in northwest County Mayo, Republic of Ireland. The Park protects one of the largest expanses of peatland in Europe and supports a diversity of species in a unique habitat; it is especially important in this regard as it is one of the largest remaining examples of a blanket bog habitat remaining in Western Europe.

The low population density of Mayo and a territory largely unsuitable for agriculture have left the area devoid of major cities, rendering its night skies very dark. The defensibility of the Park’s dark skies is enhanced by its situation near the Atlantic coast. The prospects for maintaining dark nighttime conditions into the future are therefore very good. The applicants have seized on the value of this local resource as a means of promoting regional tourism, and have undertaken efforts to educate residents of nearby villages on the dark sky issue and ways they can help protect the Park. They have produced very encouraging results that raised the profile of dark skies in northwest Ireland.