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almost full moon...st. finians bay...michael SHEEHAN

Click on photo to watch video – photo credit Michael Sheehan


(c) Our Logo

The Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve has been designated Ireland’s FIRST International Dark Sky Reserve by the International Dark-Sky Association (www.darksky.org), one of only 3 GOLD TIER Reserves on the planet, and the only GOLD TIER Reserve in the Northern Hemisphere.

This means that on clear nights the sky in this South West region of Ireland is simply stunning, with many astronomical sights seen through the naked eye as can be seen say in the Grand Canyon or the desert plains of Africa. Constellations can be viewed here with many more stars than are shown on the usual sky maps. The beautiful band of the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy, Star Clusters and Nebula’s are just some of the naked eye wonders to see without the aid of any astronomical equipment or filters.

The night-time view of our astonishingly beautiful Universe is something my family and I will carry with us all our lives –  certainly the greatest souvenir we take away with us. J. MacManus-London

If you have ever visited the Kerry region of Ireland you will know of its astounding natural beauty. Anyone who has motored on the famous Ring-of Kerry route will attest to its wonder and ease of travel. If however, you have never stayed in the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve, you will have missed out on a wonder only revealed after the sun truly sets and an orchestra of stars come out to re-vitalise your senses.

We even have our own Astronomy Group. Founder members of the South Kerry Astronomy Group recognised the uniqueness of the KerryIDSR and helped in putting together the application – so don’t forget to look them up while visiting, or go to their website here

The official volunteer Manager of the KerryIDSR as recognised by the IDA (International Dark-Sky Association) is Julie Ormonde (Waterville).



Visitors at geokaun Mountain, Valentia island - Julie ormonde Derrynane Gardens - Julie Ormonde Cill rialaig Village - photo J.Ormonde Milky Way over Bolus Head, Core Zone - PO...from Hong Kong ... Stunning by day - Mike Curran, Lohar the fiddler UNESCO World Heritage site-the Skellig Islands Walking St. Finian's Bay under blue almsot full moon - PADRAIG Sands Looking accross to Valentia Island from Cahersiveen - Padraig Sands
All the above photo’s are the property of various members of the KerryIDSR and the local Astronomy Group – see more in the Image Gallery here

Ireland’s FIRST TWO astronomy books were right here inside the KerryIDSR, by Julie Ormonde the person responsible for the International Dark-Sky recognition.

constellation stories of ireland   ASTRONOMY under a River of Stars-resized web

Available in eBook form at Amazon, or phone (+353 (0)834489069 to have signed hard copy posted out. Cost of purchasing both books 20euro plus postage.



Click NHK photo to watch trailer of the Japanese TV Documentary about the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve.


Award Logo used on the night of the announcement

On clear, dark, moonless nights in the CORE ZONE of the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve you will see many more stars than are shown on the usual sky maps, so many in fact, that many seasoned astronomers are taken aback, and at first delightfully struggle to look for the even more familiar Constellations.  Without the aid of any astronomical equipment or filters see the beautiful band of the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy, Star Clusters and Nebula’s and so much more than you ever imagined.

Go Satellite watching, Moon gazing, Planet hunting, or simply glory in the wonder of ‘falling stars’ … discover Kerry’s DARK  side and you’ll experience the wonder of the heavens – just as our ancestors once did. If you would like to hire the services of a Star Gazing guide go here


donation banner kerry dark sky

We recieve NO FUNDING, make NO PROFIT, your support is urgently needed to develop the Reserve. Your donation will be acknowledged and – if you request – you will be included on our emailing list with up-dates on how the reserve is progressing. THANK YOU for caring, please share. Read more here



irealand map
Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve Tourism Map

Click on the green Ireland map to visit the live Google Map page. The purple tourist map shows the entrance to the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve at Kells on the Ring of Kerry tourist route. Click on the purple map to download the much bigger PDF version which includes information on over 20 FREE parking areas where one can safely stargaze, or click here to download. Follow the road from Kells to the other Reserve areas of Caherciveen, Valentia Island, Portmagee, The Glen, Ballinskelligs, Waterville, Dromid & Caherdaniel – these are the only areas inside the Kerry International Dark-Sky  Reserve. The Reserve covers approx. 700 square Kilometers. The Kerry County Council will soon be erecting signposts indicating the entry and exit points to the Reserve. The N70 main road route is a two lane road with no traffic lights and quite a few bends so drive carefully. The overall speed limit is 100 km except inside the towns and villages where it is reduced to 50 km. Be alert for mountain goats, sheep, cows or  wildlife that sometimes walk/eat  along the road verge. Click on a bigger Google Map here


Happy Tourists on Geokaun mountain, Valentis Island - Julie Ormonde

Taking in the panoramic view on Geokaun mountain, Valentia Island – credit J. Ormonde

What makes the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve unique is the fact that it is a Residential Reserve. No other IDA awarded Reserve or Park has a little village in the Core Zone (The Glen) a listed house; Derrynane House and Gardens. Ancient stone forts; Staigue and Lohar Forts, Neolithic Rock Art and Standing Stones, farms, a chocolate factory, a church, a little pub, a school, a playground, beaches, holiday homes, lakes and rivers where you can fish, a hostel, a bird sanctuary and a UNESCO World Heritage site – The Skellig Islands. Essentially this means that one can stay in the Core Zone of the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve, rent a house, have a pint, stay in a hostel or B&B, visit a chocolate factory or ancient pre-historic monuments, play on the beach etc and then when the sun sets on clear moonless nights one can view the panorama of the Cosmos – how amazing is that !


the kerry dark-sky reserve love to see tourists smile

Smiling tourists going for a bus tour to Staigue fort – credit J.Ormonde

Visitors from all over the world are now visiting this small very special region of Ireland – and staying here. They are discovering that this region is beautiful but NOT isolated as is sometimes depicted in state-media tourist advertising. We have 9 small thriving communities with so much to offer – Ireland’s hidden gems. We have everything that you need: Great restaurants, Modern Hotels, Comfortable Guest Houses and B&B’s, Camping sites, Hostels, REAL Traditional Irish Pubs, playgrounds, tourist guides, artists, golf clubs, food stores, beauticians and much much more. Come for the day and you will certainly want to stay for the night, that’s when the Reserve reveals its DARK side – and a whole new panorama is revealed – stunning sunsets and (on clear Moonless nights) a whole sky full of stars – prepare to be amazed!


Visiting Japaneese meet the locals

Visiting Japanese meet the locals – credit J. Ormonde

Irish people are globally famous for their open friendliness and willingness to help visitors. We love to chat and are curious about where YOU come from, and want to know all about YOUR county, town, city or village – its just who we are. Don’t hesitate to ask anyone for directions- we love helping people. Feel completely safe in the Reserve as crime is a rarity here. You will notice bikes lounging against walls and hedgerows without locks or chains, school bags lying against shop walls and you will never see a local woman clutching mightily to her handbag as robbery of this kind simply never happens. The local population are incredibly sociable – come visit and see for yourself.


Setdancing in the kerry dark sky reserve

Set dancing in Ballinskelligs Community Hall

Set-dancing is favorite activity for locals and tourists, enquire locally for next set-dancing session – this is a great way to mix in with the community learn a new dance and make new friends. Proof that not all social gatherings in Ireland revolves around alcohol.


Dark Skies Consultant - kerry dark sky reserveIf you think your area might have the potential to win an IDA Dark-Sky Award go Contact us. If you would like to have a talk about the subject of Light Pollution and its effects on the environment, human health and our wildlife discussed with your school/community/group telephone : 083 448 9069 (within Ireland) or +353 (0)83 448 9069 (outside Ireland), or make Contact through this website. The discussion uses a PowerPoint presentation and short videos to illustrate various aspects of Light Pollution.


Stargazing in the kerry dark sky reserve Michael Sheehan Why not enhance your visit to the Reserve by hiring an experienced local Astronomer as a Stargazing Guide?  Learn all about the Constellations, their ancient stories and how to find them. Discover and learn about the more popular Stars, Planets, Nebula’s, Star Clusters  and other Galaxies. The guide is available for private individuals and parties as well as community/ tour groups and schools. Moonlight talks/walks as well as outdoor talks on the Sun using special eye-filters should also be considered: we sometimes forget that the Moon and the Sun also have a fascinating story to reveal. If you are booking please consider the position of the Moon. You need the Moon to be in its ‘NEW MOON’ phase (meaning no Moon) in order to fully see the Milky way and all those fainter Stars. Tel: 083 4489069 (within Ireland) or +353 (0)834489069 (outside Ireland), or you can make contact here.


Collage kerry dark sky reserveWe can arrange for the hire of other experienced guides covering various subjects.  Perhaps you would like to arrange a children/adult/group Workshop. Maybe you would like to pre-book an activity or perhaps a combination of activities including guides. It’s your holiday, your choice, your holiday –  Tel: 083 4489069 (within Ireland) or +353 (0)834489069 (outside Ireland), or make contact here.


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