Culture & Heritage

Culture & Heritage


Over thousands of years, the stars have inspired artists, scientists, explorers, writers & musicians the world over. Works such as Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Starry Night, may never have been created if the artist’s view of the night sky had been obscured.

“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” — Vincent van Gogh

The natural night sky is our common and universal heritage, yet it’s rapidly becoming unknown to the newest generations.

Here in Mayo, we plan to preserve and protect our night sky and nocturnal heritage to fire the imagination of future generations. We have committed to an extensive Lightscape Management plan for the property and also to preparing an annual programme of outreach events designed to highlight the cultural value of our night sky heritage.

Van Gogh Painting (Left), Mayo Scenery (Middle and Right)


Our ancestors experienced a night sky brimming with stars. They used the stars for navigation, time and seasonal indicators and sometimes built structures with astronomical alignments for a variety of reasons.

Dark Sky Preservation, especially in landscapes that have a prehistoric archaeological component raises the importance of such landscapes to being a cultural asset at a national and international level.

In Mayo we have examples of how our ancestors connected their lives with the sky with heritage monuments such as the Boheh Stone. Here you can witness the ‘Rolling Sun’ phenomenon (discovered by the late historian Gerry Bracken in the early 1990s). The Boheh Stone is a bronze age monument, marked with cup style rock art, from where you can view the setting sun appear to “roll” down the western cone of Croagh Patrick on two dates each year; April 18 and August 24. The dates signify the start and end of the harvest season and perhaps an agricultural calendar for our predecessors.

UNESCO has acknowledged the value of Astronomical Heritage through its site “Portal to the Heritage of Astronomy” which exists to raise awareness of the importance of astronomical heritage and to facilitate efforts to identify, protect and preserve such heritage.

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