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Irelands Dark Treasure – One Of The Three Best Places on Earth To View The Universe!

It’s the only place in the Northern Hemisphere from which to truly understand the majesty of the universe. And one of only 3 places on the planet! And that’s official.

Light pollution is a growing problem and it means that no-one looking up the the sky can truly experience the awe and wonder that people felt only a generation or two ago. Now we see just a handful of stars and lose the sense of wonder at our place in the universe. Unless you’re in Kerry.

The International Dark-Sky Association is a non-profit organization fighting to preserve the night. They recognise and promote special dark-sky areas where the light pollution can be minimised. One of only 3 Gold-level areas in the world is in Kerry.

The Kerry Dark-Sky reserve is approx. 700 sq km in size and comprises of a core and a buffer. The core has the darkest skies with the buffer offering slightly less perfect viewing but with the communities dedicated to doing their best to minimise their own light pollution. The complete park takes in The Skellig Islands and Valencia.
Kerry Darks sky Reserve map


Importance Of Dark-Sky Reserves

Amazingly about half of Europeans cannot see our own galaxy. There is an apocryphal story that in 1994, following a large earthquake, the power in Los Angeles was lost and many people saw the Milky Way for the first time – causing many of them to call the emergency services asking if the “silver cloud was responsible”!

Dark Skies are important not just for astronomers and those interested in astronomy but also for the animals and for our own health. We evolved with a cycle of light and dark and this regulates many of the systems in our body. Electric light is a new phenomena and its recent spread means that the natural cycle has been interrupted. This in turn has been implicated in many problems such as sleep-deprivation and obesity.

But perhaps as big an issue is the loss of connection with the universe. The true vastness of the universe and the sense of awe it engenders is part of what has led our species to greater achievements. Without that connection we risk becoming a more insular species.


A Globally Unique Tourist Destination

The Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve is unique. Not only is it the only Gold-leve reserve in the Northern Hemisphere but it is also a Residential Reserve. No other International Dark-Sky Association awarded Reserve or Park has a little village in the Core Zone (The Glen) a listed house; Derrynane House and Gardens. Ancient stone forts; Staigue and Lohar Forts, Neolithic Rock Art and Standing Stones, farms, a chocolate factory, a church, a little pub, a school, a playground, beaches, holiday homes, lakes and rivers where you can fish, a hostel, a bird sanctuary and a UNESCO World Heritage site – The Skellig Islands. Essentially this means that one can stay in the Core Zone of the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve, rent a house, have a pint, stay in a hostel or B&B, visit a chocolate factory or ancient pre-historic monuments, play on the beach etc and then when the sun sets on clear moonless nights one can view the panorama of the Cosmos!

This unique combination of stunning scenery, friendly locals and amazing sky views is expected to be a major tourism attraction in coming years. It is part of a growing image of Ireland as a place of natural beauty to visit.

the stars seen from the Kerry darks sky reserve

You can learn more about the unique offering of The Kerry Dark-Sky Reserve, including how to get there, where to stay and more on their website;

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