Most visitors traverse Ireland’s western Wild Atlantic Way – a tourism route designated in 2014 to encourage visitors to explore beyond hotspots like Dublin and Cork. But the route is also fast becoming a great region for stargazing, thanks to the efforts of local communities along the Way who’ve worked to achieve dark sky designation.
County Kerry Dark Sky Reserve, located on the Kerry peninsula in southwest Ireland, received their designation in 2014. The area is well protected from light pollution thanks to the Kerry mountains, and visitors can gaze out over the Atlantic Ocean at the vast expanse of sea and stars. Similarly, Ballycroy National Park and Wild Nephin Wilderness offers visitors incredible dark sky quality further up the western Irish coast in County Mayo. I was fortunate to visit Ballycroy National Park and Wild Nephin Wilderness (also sometimes called the Mayo Dark Sky Park) in late 2019 and it was one of the darkest skies I’ve ever witnessed.
If planning a trip, keep in mind that Ireland does have wet months where overcast skies are more likely to interfere with your stargazing prospects.