Traveling in Ireland is not dangerous as such – millions of tourists visit the country every year without coming to harm whatsoever. Still, it is a wise precaution to be a safety-conscious traveler. Here are a few straightforward precautions and a good dose of common sense should ensure that your visit to the the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve as safe as it is enjoyable.
The Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve received its GOLD TIER status for its pitch black skies, this means that many areas have little or no light pollution. When we state that on clear Moonless nights its dark we mean DARK …really really DARK. I’s so dark you cannot even see the ground beneath your feet, in fact you won’t even see your feet – this is no exaggeration. Once your eyes adjust to the darkness only then do things around you start to come into focus. It is reckoned that it could take between 20-45 minutes for your eyes to adjust to full darkness more here. So, if you have been driving when you arrive at your destination turn off your headlights and sit in the car/coach/camper van until your eyes adjust to the darkness. But before you even get to that point consider the following:
- If you are planning to go Stargazing at one of the many sites marked out in the tourism map (see here), make sure you visit the stargazing area during daylight – or else arrive before the sun sets – and explore the region, so you know the state of the ground you’ll be walking on during the night. Note where potential pot-holes are, look to see if there are ditches nearby. If you are going to be situated at a high ocean view note the boundaries of the cliff edges, where barbed wire fences might be and if there are any cattle/sheep/goats around.
- Before taking part in any outdoor activities, we recommend that you check you have all the equipment you need, plus water, snacks and a fully charged mobile phone.
- Consult the weather forecast and prepare for the worst it might throw at you, be that sun or rain, heat or cold.
- Don’t set out without telling somebody where you are going and when to expect you back, especially if you are going alone.
- Wherever you’re headed, always take local advice about any natural hazards you might encounter.
- If you’re inexperienced or in any way uncertain, it’s a good idea to hook up with a local guide, instructor or organised group, to arrange this contact here or Stargazing guide here.
- Obviously tents are not safe – never leave valuables in them when you are away, not even at a regular camping site. Bear in mind that camping without the landowner’s explicit permission is illegal and might lead to a fine.
Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the Gardai (Republic of Ireland). The actual response may very much depend on the nature of the emergency – if you want to report loss or theft of an item, you will more than likely be asked to come to the nearest police or garda station to fill in a form.
- Emergency Medical Services and Ambulance
Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the ambulance service. Take note that this is for life-threatening emergencies (through accident or sudden illness) only, to see a General Practitioner (family doctor) you should enquire about the nearest service with the front desk of your accommodation. You may also visit an A&E (accident and emergency) department in a local hospital, but this will always incur a hefty charge and, more than likely, long waiting hours.
- Fire and Rescue Services
Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the fire service. They will provide firefighting and technical rescue if needed, roadside assistance for stranded cars (also often referred to as “rescue”) is not part of their portfolio.
- Marine and Coastal Emergencies
Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the Coast Guard. The Garda Costa na hEireann (Irish Coast Guard, RoI) or the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (NI) will coordinate the response by cliff rescue teams, inshore rescue units, lifeboats and SAR helicopters if necessary. Distress calls may also be made by marine radio or flares, but this is within the domain of qualified skippers only.
- Mountain Rescue or Cave Rescue
Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the mountain rescue service.
You should be aware that all these services will respond without a charge to genuine emergencies, though you may later be asked to provide insurance details to recover some of the costs. Also be aware that there are fines in place for malicious, false and time-wasting call-outs, but as long as you are acting in good faith you should be okay.