Mayo County Council Innovates In Forward-Thinking Approach To Preserving Mayo’s Dark Skies
www.mayodarkskyfestival.ie underway today!
Mayo County Council leads the way in integrating new lighting works as part of the Mayo Dark Skies Project. Located between Nephin Mountain Range and the Atlantic coastline, Mayo Dark Sky Park extends across an area of 150km2 encompassing both Ballycroy National Park and Wild Nephin.
Working with the local community, Mayo Dark Skies, NPWS, Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park, along withother key agenciesMayo County Council is both upgrading and installing, structural and public lighting along the roads, environs, nearby towns and built-up areas that border the internationally recognised park.Mayo County Council lighting engineers have begun a rollout of ecologically sensitive and dark sky friendly lighting on the N59, with improved quality, warmer toned LED (2700 kelvin) to protect this sensitive environment.
This forward-thinking approach has decreased light pollution in this incredibly natural and beautiful area. Mayo Dark Sky Park has Ireland’s only International Dark-Sky Association Gold Tier standard of International Dark Sky Park, the highest possible classification. This flagship project showcases some of the darkest, most pristine skies in the world, where on a clear night, the naked eye can see over 4,500 twinkling stars, along with planets, The Milky Way and meteor showers.
To achieve the Gold Tier award the park addresses need of biodiversity, energy, and social ambience whilst showcasing built heritage in a sensitive environment.The Mayo project works closely with Professor Brian Espey of Trinity College Dublin Astrophysics Dept, to provide evidence-based guidance for how choosing alternative LED lights can provide energy efficiency as well as being environmentally friendly to nature and better for our own health.
Newport town, is a gateway town to Mayo Dark Sky Park,Newport’s “Lighting Master Plan" funded by The Heritage Councilaspires to become a valuable example of international best practice in designing a nightscape, while showcasing Newport as a model for best practice lighting by redesigning the lighting of St Patrick’s Church and the Viaduct bridge, both heritage landmarks in the town. Initial designs for the lighting were provided by Italian lighting designer Roberto Corradini who specialises in light design for religious and heritage buildings, has visited the park and was hugely impressed by the quality of the night skies.
Speaking of the innovative project Acting Chief Executive of Mayo County Council Peter Duggan said,
“The work Mayo County Council has undertaken to date has been the first of its kind for a council in Ireland. Mayo Dark Sky Park is a highly attractive natural resource that we are incredibly proud to have been involved in achieving with other agencies and stakeholders. Mayo County Council will continue to adopt an environmentally friendly dark sky lighting policy in planning and development of the areas in the vicinity of the park. Our aim is that Newport’s Lighting Master Plan will become a model for best practice lighting, leading the way in Ireland, and holding its own on the international stage.”
Project Manager Georgia MacMillan says“This project shows real collaboration between the community, local and national authorities, and international expertise. I’m delighted to see Mayo leading the way here. We will soon have a Lighting plan for Newport to become Ireland’s first “Dark Sky Friendly Town” showcasing the beauty of Newport at night as well as day with best practice lighting. As well as looking good, this energy-efficient lighting is good for our own wellbeing and for biodiversity at night. We are working remotely with Italian experts who specialise in light design for architectural heritage buildings and ambience. They visited Mayo last November and were overwhelmed with the natural night skies, a rarity across much of Europe.”
The (Virtual) Mayo Dark Sky Festival is set to take place today 31stOctober 2020 and is a full day of events to celebrate the beauty of our night skies. With talks from expert speakers around the world and including homegrown talents such as Dara McAnulty and Éanna connecting the nocturnal world with the theme of dark skies. All events are free but registration is required via our website.www.mayodarkskyfestival.ie