Dark Sky Ambassador Programme

The first ever Dark Sky Ambassador Course was held in Ballycroy at the end of January. As a pilot initiative, the outreach team from Blackrock Castle Observatory from Cork to conduct a Dark Sky Ambassador training programme for local trade and customer service representatives from Newport, Mulranny, Ballycroy, and further afield.

“As we now have the only International Dark Sky Park on our door step, we felt it was important to create a course along the lines of the Wild Atlantic Way Champions so that local people can get involved and help represent this important eco-tourism model. “ said one of the organisers.

Attendees represented a good cross section with almost 50 attendees from tour guides, hotel reception staff, national park rangers, GMIT Lecturers and local businesses. During the weekend attendees took part in a stargazing walk in Mayo Dark Sky Park to enjoy fantastic views of the constellations they had learned about, plus various teaching sessions on the night sky under a portable dome brought up by Blackrock Castle observatory team. Workshops to discuss how to help hotels and commercial premises become Dark Sky Friendly premises also closed the weekend with plenty of local input.

A surprise visit from Councillor Michael Ring on Saturday added to the excitement of an already very engaging weekend.

The course was based on research conducted at other Dark Sky places in Wales, Northumberland and Scotland, taking advice from fellow dark sky enthusiasts in the UK. We really believe that the Dark Sky project in Mayo is set to grow stronger now and with local support an involvement it can become a truly sustainable, off-season tourism opportunity for the West.

All participants received a Dark Sky Ambassador Certificate upon completion.

The course was hosted by the Friends of Mayo Dark Skies Community Group and in collaboration with NPWS and the Mayo Dark Sky Park. Special thanks to the Mayo County Council for supporting and funding the course and to Ballycroy Community Centre for the venue and refreshments.

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