About the Reserve


  • Waterville Grotto - photo by J.Ormonde

The Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve is located in the South West coast of Ireland in what is called an ISTHMUS – a narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas, usually with water on either side. The Reserve is protected by the Kerry Mountains and Hills on one side and the Atlantic ocean on the other, is approx. 700 sq km in size and offers dark un-lightpolluted skies,  inhabited villages, helpful locals, remote wilderness, long sandy beaches, and numerous lakes, islands and rivers.


starsoverstfiniansbay- resized for wp

Stars over St. Finian’s Bay in the Core Zone region

Above is an example of what a Dark-Sky looks like on a clear Moonless night with little light pollution. Sky reading from this area on clear Moonless nights is 21.7 on the SQML reader more.


kerry dark sky reserve wildlife collage


Heritage banner of the kerry dark-sky reserve


Night sky collage

Protection of the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve is about protecting the day-time and nocturnal Wildlife in ALL its forms on land, river, lake and sea. As well as protecting and promoting the Heritage of numerous monuments of pre-historic stone, rock art etc that festoon the region, and protecting the quality of the dark night-time sky to witness them as our ancestors once did.


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


An IDA (www.darksky.org) Dark Sky Reserve has a core/buffer structure, similar to the design of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. The darkest night skies of such Reserves and Parks are in the Core Zone. The Buffer Zone, which usually includes more populated areas, protects the cores dark skies through the enacting of responsible outdoor light policies by municipal councils and private individuals. In the case of the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve there are actually dark-sky areas in the Buffer Zone with equal star-viewing as can be found in the Core Zone.

What is a Core Zone?

The Core Zone is an area in which there is little or no critical light pollution. These are the area’s in which on clear moonless nights one can fully see the sky in all its glory – just as our ancestors did. This region is most suited to astro-photography, research and naked eye star gazing.

What is the Buffer Zone?

The Buffer Zone protects the Core Zone by ensuring that light pollution is kept under control in the Buffer Zone. If the Buffer Zone began to increase its outdoor public street lights (for instance) this would impact on the Core Zone – read more


Skellig Michael, beehive cells and Small Skellig - Julie Ormonde

This monastic complex, perched since about the 7th century on the steep sides of the rocky island of Skellig Michael, some 12 km off the coast of south-west Ireland, illustrates the very spartan existence of the first Irish Christians. Since the extreme remoteness of Skellig Michael has until recently discouraged visitors, the site is exceptionally well preserved.

The Reserve holds many natural assets including The Skellig Islands UNESCO World Heritage site, tracks of 350 million year old creatures, towering cliffs, sandy blue-flag beaches, windswept hills, rare flora and fauna and traditional wildlife such as foxes, badgers, hares, rabbits as well as endangered species like bats, frogs, toads etc. The Atlantic Ocean bordering one side of the Reserve is also the protected home to many sea creatures  and plants. Many island bird sanctuaries surround the reserve with no visitors allowed except under strict guidance and permission. It is not unusual to see Dolphins playing out in the Derrynane, Kells, Ballinskelligs or Waterville Bay area, so keep a sharp eye out for them.  The Reserve is unique because is is an inhabited ‘living’ Reserve, there is a school, a playground, a church, a pub even a small chocolate factory in the Core Zone. You can rent a house, stay in a Hostel or book into a B&B in the Core Zone area.



Photo contributed by Hong Kong Astro-photographer and school teacher PO -- The Milky way over BOLUS HEAD August 2014

The Milky Way over Bolus Head inside the Core Zone of the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve. Photo taken by an astro-photographer called Po from Hong Kong.

Protection of this Kerry Dark-Sky wonder is very important, hence the application to receive Dark-Sky Reserve recognition from the International Dark-Sky Association. The human sprint for development has meant that the skies as our ancestors viewed them is all but gone in the Western and Developing world. To correctly map our evolution into this more technologically based society we need to remember, cherish and protect the starting-off point in human development, globally agreed to be humankind’s wonder at the heavens providing the first spark into the creation of what we now call science.



Translate »
WordPress Video Lightbox