In May 2016, a Gold Tier standard of International Dark Sky Park was awarded to Mayo Dark Sky Park at Wild Nephin National Park (formerly Ballycroy National 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, ATU 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 accreditation is under the management of National Parks & Wildlife Service, who have committed to a responsible lighting plan for the Mayo Dark Sky Park.
Our very experienced team at Wild Nephin National Park welcomes visitors to the Dark Sky Park and the excellent facilities available (check seasonal opening hours). Our guides run the Dark Sky Educational Programme for the year (prior booking essential) and Dark Sky talks and Stargazing events can be organised through our dark sky development officer.
Although the Ballycroy Visitor Centre closes during some winter months, the viewing points within the Dark Sky Park are still open to the public all year round (see our Visit section for more information).