Dark Sky Park
Republic of Ireland
Mayo Dark Sky Park, encompassing both Ballycroy National Park and the adjacent Wild Nephin Wilderness, 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.