Dark Sky Kerry
Dark Sky Kerry is in Ireland.
South West Kerry
encompasses Kells, Caherciveen, Waterville, Caherdaniel, Ballinskelligs, Portmagee, Valentia Island, Mastergeehy, St. Finian's Bay, Foilmore, Derrynane. The major big towns of Kerry include Killarney, Tralee, Kenmare, Dingle, with other medium/ smaller towns all set within large area's where the pursuit of farming is strong, though not as productive as in the past. The Ring of Kerry is a very popular tourist route. Failte Ireland statistics state that over 1.5 million tourists 'do' the Ring of Kerry each tourist season (April -September). Tourist buses abound on the roads during this time taking the N70 circular road route going from Killarney/Tralee travelling through Killorglin, Kells, Caherciveen, Waterville, Caherdaniel & Sneem and then either carrying onto Kenmare or taking a route through the Kerry Mountains arriving back in the origional destination of Killarney/ Tralee. A very important part of the region may be missed out which includes the Skellig Ring encompassing Ballinskelligs, St. Finian's Bay, Portmagee & Valentia Island. What is not included in the whole tourist experience is the fact that South West Kerry has incredibly Dark Skies (reading 19+ inside the towns/villages and up to 21.8 outside the towns/villages). This is excellent sky values to anyone interested in Astronomy and/or Astro-photography. To experience the wonder of a true Dark Kerry Sky one would need to spend at least one night in any of the area's encompassing South West Kerry area. At the time of writing an application is being put together for International Dark Sky recognition by the I.D.A. Also under construction is a web site which will be added to this review in the coming months.
For a holiday break or visit away from the glare of lights this area is highly recommended. The South West Kerry Dark Sky Region is sandwiched between the Kerry mountains on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. At the time of writing an application is been put together to have IDA declare South West Kerry Ireland's first Internationally recognised Dark Sky Reserve. Kerry has a great reputation for its scenery, blue flag beaches etc but the fact that it can also provide truly Dark skies has not been highlighted - until now. If you want to experience the skies as our not too distant ancestors experienced them then this is a region of Ireland you should seriously consider staying at least one night of your visit. The area extends from Kells to Caherdaniel approx 800 sq kilometres.
The Ring of Kerry
using the N70 road is the main route of travel. The roads are good, signage improving every year, but you cannot get lost unless you stray away from the main road.
There is a daily public transport bus route (twice daily in the Summer Season) that departs from Tralee travelling through Killarney, Killorglin, Glenbeigh, Kells, Caherciveen, Waterville, Caherdaniel and Sneem. Locally there is a public bus, but they are on a strict timetable, and you need to make sure you have the times and places of departure if you want to use them to go from one area to another. Taxi's are available locally at a very reasonable price. If you are into cycling then you can hire this mode of travel. The best way to tour the area is by car initially then once arrived you can use many of the truly wonderful 'Kerry Way' walking routes.
Once you are at your destination you can of course enjoy the many usual daytime pursuits of golfing, fishing, surfing, horse riding etc etc but in the evening just as night is about to crawl in then go to your chosen spot for Star Gazing and make sure that you are familiar with the area layout so you don't have an accident. These areas are truely Dark - honestly - - this writer has often bumped into her own car because she didn't see it. At time of writing this article a map of the viewing area's and a website is been put together. Use your common sense have wear warm cloths, make sure someone knows your plans for the night etc etc
If you are staying in the bigger Towns of Killarney, Tralee, Kenmare etc make sure you arrive at your chosen Dark Sky viewing point before twilight to get to know the area. It is advised that you plan to stay the night in the nearest local village to your chosen viewing point. You won't have to travel far from any of the surrounding villages regions, more than likely your choosen area will probably be just a short walk away, though as stated before you wil be taken aback at how Dark things are, so if the viewing area is not on your doorstep (yes I do mean doorstep) then maybe you should use your car/bike or if you are walking ring a torch with you to see where you are going. This might sound like a 'doh' piece of advice, but people have been known to wander to a Dark Sky watching area during twilight hours not realising how dark the night will get and then have to rely on lighters, phone lights etc to find their way back to their car, hotel, tent etc.
During the day you can go on many of the mapped out Kerry Way walks. Golfing, cycling, swimming, horse riding, adventure sports, hill/ mountain climbing, sign up for a workshop, photography is a must.==
there are quite a few Restaurants, Cafe's etc during the summer tourist season. In the off peak season Oct-March there are of course a few eateries open, but if you stay in a hotel or B&B you can make arrangements.
There are plenty of public houses to sate your thirst, but in the off season the pubs are more or less empty. Still there is sure to be a few locals to chat to - and don't be shy - Kerry people love to talk so don't hesitate to get into a conversation even if the person appears to be alone. In fact this is where the whole experience becomes memorable, the locals are a fountain of information and love to deliver it. Night clubs are reduced to only one open once a week (usually Saturday night). The nearest cinema is in Kilkarney or Tralee.
No worries here. Most locals don't even lock their car. Community alert is in operation, but are rarely alerted. You will even be amazed that school bags, shopping trollies, and deliveries are left safely unattended. You don't even have to worry about locking up your bike it will be stll there when you get back. In this modern crime ridden world not too many area's can boast about such safety.
Distance between each region, town and village within the DarkSky area is 16 kilometres approx. Once outside the village, town there are no road lights, it's just 'cat's eyes' all the way.