Every year NightScapades
invites a country to come and present its starry sky reserve. For its first edition in Lourdes, NightScapades will receive
the Mayo Dark Sky Park in Ireland.
The night sky has captivated the Irish for millennia. Nearly 6,000 years ago, the Neolithic inhabitants of the Iveragh Peninsula built stone monuments incorporating alignments to follow the cycles of the Sun, Moon and stars. According to some experts, ancient Ogham inscriptions found in the area could represent celestial observations.
In May 2016, a Gold Tier standard of International Dark Sky Park was awarded to Ballycroy National Park and Wild Nephin, known jointly as Mayo Dark Sky Park. The dark sky certification process is modeled on conservation programmes, such as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves.
A Gold Tier award is the highest possible accolade, meaning that Mayo is now internationally recognised as one of the best places in the world to view the wonders of the night.
Mayo Dark Sky Park is a great example of a collaborative project between our communities, National Parks & Wildlife Service, Coillte, GMIT Mayo Campus, South West Mayo Development and Mayo County Council. We are very proud of the strong partnership formed between local people and state agencies who worked together on this project. The process of preparing a dark-sky application took over two years to complete from initial research undertaken in 2013.
Formal responsibility for Mayo Dark Sky Park lies with the National Parks & Wildlife Service who have committed to a responsible lighting plan for the Dark Sky Park.