Taking on the growing problem of light pollution in Ireland, a Co Mayo community group has been set up with one particular aim: To raise children who can name more stars in the sky than stars on the screen!
Community is Strong in the West of Ireland, and strong communities make great things happen.
When one such group from Newport, Mulranny and Ballycroy got together in Co Mayo the stars were aligned.
In 2015 following research undertaken whilst at GMIT and with the support of NPWS, they put together the application for Ireland’s first International Dark Sky Park, which in 2016, was accredited with gold tier.
Since then they have worked with local authorities, community groups and researchers to raise awareness of the growing problem of light pollution in Ireland. Mayo Dark Skies was a founder member of the Dark Sky Ireland group set up to tackle this problem nationwide and have produced guides and resources for communities and individuals to use which are accessible online.
They also give regular talks on how to reduce light pollution in the community and host events such as the annual International Dark Sky Week in 2019. The project was awarded EcoHero 2018 by Outsider Magazine and they are also in the nominations lists for the Spark Change Sustainable Community Awards by the Wheel.
This November there are two exciting events in the Dark Skies Park from the 1-3rd. First off is the fourth annual Dark Sky Festival which is a community collaboration between Newport, Mulranny & Ballycroy. The family friendly weekend event is set to be the best ever this year featuring Canadian Astronaut Robert Thirsk, Éanna Ní Lamhna, French astro artists Chasseurs de nuit and many other events relating to astronomy, rocket making, stargazing and much more.
Immediately following the festival, they have a very important international event. The Park will host the 14th European Symposium for the Protection of the Night Sky from 3-5th November. It is the first event of its kind in Ireland to be licenced by the International Dark Sky Associationand is being twinned with their own Dark Sky Conference in Tucson.
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