Protecting the Night Skies of County Mayo

A community-driven project protects County Mayo's dark skies, which benefits local ecology and boosts tourism.


Mayo International Dark Sky Park was awarded a gold standard in 2016, which promotes sustainable tourism on County Mayo's Atlantic coast. In order to safeguard Ireland's only gold standard Dark Sky Park, partnerships were established between the local authority, local councillors, environmental organisations, scientists, NGOs and community groups to reduce environmental light pollution and promote Mayo as a haven for innovations in dark sky tourism. Mayo County Council took a consultative approach to public lighting, which led to a community-driven plan for Ireland’s first Dark Sky Friendly town.


A nocturnal lighting plan for the town of Newport was created, driven by community needs, enhancing the ambience for residents and reducing light pollution for aquatic and terrestrial wildlife species in the area. In 2020, Mayo County Council led the change of public lighting fixtures on 60km of national secondary route to ecologically sensitive LEDs, and continues to implement such measures. This was an international collaboration with light designers in Italy and was included as a presentation in the programme of the 2021 Artificial Lighting at Night Conference – an international conference for researchers and advocates.  


This innovative plan has empowered the community to create their own vision for a nocturnal night-scape, which is unique in Ireland, and unites diverse groups with a common vision to protect the night sky from light pollution for present and future generations to enjoy. This project motivates rural communities to recognise the rarity of a naturally dark skies, shifting viewpoints from a fear of the dark to embracing this natural asset. The community has driven their own agenda and now takes pride in a view of the Milky Way which over 50% of Irish and 70% of European communities have lost sight of.

Project team
Mark Duffy
Mayo County Councillor
Project owner
Peter Flynn