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Skellig Coast Dark Sky Festival

24th - 26th March 2023

The seed for the Skellig Coast Dark Sky Festival came from the success of a series of monthly online talks on astronomy and the Kerry Dark Sky Reserve which the LIVE Project ran over a 10 month period over 2021 and 2022 in collaboration with Steve Lynott of Kerry Dark Sky Tourism and John Flannery of the Irish Astronomical Society. The interest in stargazing, from astronomy to natural heritage, folklore to photography was incredible. 
Go raibh maith agaibh, thank you to everyone who attended the 2023 Skellig Coast Dark Sky Festival, celebrating the best of what south Kerry has to offer - our landscape, our heritage and culture, our community and our dark skies. 
Below are the events and activities that took place during the 2023 festival, including a detailed report you can download and read.
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Friday 24th March 2023
Saturday 25th March 2023
Sunday 26th March 2023

Kerry Dark Sky Reserve

The Kerry Dark Sky Reserve sits on the Iveragh Peninsula and incorporates approximately 700 square km of territory.  It is one of only 3 Gold Tier Reserves in the world, and the only one in the Northern Hemisphere. Its location between the Kerry Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean provides some natural protection against light pollution.


In 2021 the LIVE Project with Kerry Dark Sky Tourism ran a year long programme of online talks and presentations about the night sky and some of the wonders you can find in Iveragh, from nocturnal animals, bioluminescence to astro-archaeology. The sessions were recorded and are still available to view.

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Astrophotography Exhibition - Various
23rd- 26th March 2023 

Throughout the festival weekend you can view some amazing images of the night sky and deep space, from members of the Astrophotography Club of Ireland. An exhibition trail that leads from Kells to Castlecove, Dromid to Valentia. Not to be missed!


Read about the full trail on our digital map​.

Free - sponsored by Skellig Six 18  Distillery and Visitor Experience nd supported by local businesses across Iveragh

Skellig Sauna - Cuas Croom
Festival Weekend 24th - 26th March

Skellig Sauna is a space for relaxation, healing, and community. They are a wood-fired sauna primely located on the scenic peninsula of Iveragh in southwest Kerry. Although our daytime sessions boast some of Ireland’s most picturesque beaches and crystal clear waters; once the sun sets in the evening, the sky lights up in a different way under the midst of The Dark Sky Reserve.

Relax in comfort in the heated sauna enjoying the late-night stars! 

Price varies, visit Skellig Sauna for more information:

Dark Sky Cruises  - Kerry Aqua Terra
Friday 24th and Saturday 25th March

Valentia Harbour is stunning in the summer, but it is even more magical on a winter dark skies cruise. While onboard ‘The Navigator’, view one of the world’s only 3 Gold Tier Dark Sky reserves. Don’t forget to dress for the winter temperatures, but we promise to make your nighttime adventure cosy with a blanket so you won’t even feel the cold as you gaze up to the milky way. A truly unique experience where the ocean meets the sky at the edge of the world in the dark of the night.

€40 per person - book directly with Kerry Aqua Terra

Walk of the Planets - Caherdaniel
Self-guided Walk


Walk of the Planets is a 7km trail from Caherdaniel to Coad and back again, along the Kerry Way following a scaled representation of our solar system taking you through breathtaking scenery. Specially commissioned markers at each stop will enable a wonderful exploration of the planets found in our Solar System. Walkers will be able to get an idea of the distance of each planet from the sun and from each other.

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Rock Art by Night  - Caherdaniel
Friday 24th March 8pm - 9pm


Of all of Ireland’s archaeology, megalithic-era open-air rock art is the most enigmatic and mysterious. Join Aoibheann Lambe to see this monumental example of rock art at its best - by night, by torchlight! 

UPDATE: This event may be subject to change. Meet as planned in Caherdaniel, V93 V329, and weather permitting you will continue the short walk to see some rock art. Otherwise, the event may move to upstairs in the Blind Piper Pub, V93 DD83, for an evening talk. Check with volunteers on arrival.

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Stargazing and Astro Folklore  - Derrynane
Friday 24th March | 9pm - 10.30pm

Join founding member of the Caherdaniel Dark Sky Club, Michael Sheehan, and archaeologist Aoibheann Lambe for an evening of stargazing and astronomy starting from Derrynane House and Gardens. The stargazing will be accompanied with a series of tales from Eastern European Astro-Folklore.  UPDATE: Due to unsettled weather, This event has changed location. It will now take place indoors at  the Blind Piper Pub, Caherdaniel, V93 DD83, for an evening talk. 

What's in the Sky Tonight? – Ballinskelligs
Friday 24th March | 8.30pm - 10pm

You may have seen them presenting online at the monthly Kerry Dark Sky talks, but now you can meet them in person! Join Steve Lynott of Kerry Dark Sky Tourism and John Flannery of Irish Astronomical Association for an evening of stargazing and astronomy.

UPDATE: Due to unsettled weather, this event has changed location to Ballinskelligs Community Centre, Dún Géagán V23DT28

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Astrophotography Workshop - Tech Amergin
Saturday 25th March | 11am - 1pm

Led by Marty McCormack and Keith Levins of Astrophotography Club Ireland (ACI), who will give an introduction to astrophotography delving into nightscape, planetary and deep sky photography. The session will be followed by a 'get your rig out!' later in the evening (see below) where useful tips will be provided to you on how best to use your own equipment for astrophotography.

Free - Supported by the LIVE Project and Comhchoiste Ghaeltacht Uíbh Ráthaigh

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Sand constellations for Children - Waterville
Saturday 25th March | 12pm – 1pm

Dee O’Shea will use the medium of sand to teach children about the various constellations they can see in the night sky around Iveragh. Children will have the opportunity to create their own sand art  using constellations as their inspiration. This event is suitable for children age 5-10 and they most be accompanied by an adult.

Free - Supported by the LIVE Project and Comhchoiste Ghaeltacht Uíbh Ráthaigh

Seashore Safari with Sea Synergy
Saturday 25th March | 1pm – 2.30pm

Come along to this Seashore Safari with Sea Synergy - explore the local seashore with marine biologists who will help you uncover some of the secrets of the creatures living in one of the most extreme environments. We will explore the rock pools and animals that live there, learn cool facts and find crabs, prawns, starfish and much more!

€14 per child , €50 family - book directly with Sea Synergy

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Realteolaíocht as Gaeilge | Astronomy as Gaeilge for all the family - Dromid
Dé Sathairn 25th Márta | 3in - 4.30in

Tabharfaidh Caoimhín de Bhailís éachtaint ar na réalta agus spéir na hoíche. Is i nGaeilge a bheidh an chaint agus tá sí dírithe ar dhaoine gan mórán eolais ar an réalteolaíocht.

Join Caoimhín de Bhailis for an exploration of the stars. This family friendly talk, which will be delivered through Irish, will take complete beginners on a journey through the night sky.

Free - Supported by Comhchoiste Ghaeltacht Uíbh Ráthaigh

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Night Paddle with Sea Synergy
Saturday 25th March | 6pm – 8pm

What better way to experience the Skellig Dark Sky Reserve than by floating on Lough Currane beneath a canopy of stars? Join us for this wonderful two hour paddle and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate at the end!

€25 per child , €45 adult, €135 family - book directly with Sea Synergy

Astronomy and Irish Folklore - Seán Mac an tSithigh- Dromid
Saturday 25th March | 7pm – 8pm

Seán Mac an tSithigh has a wealth of Irish folklore knowledge, gleaned from careful study of old Irish texts, recordings and stories. Based on his chapter on Folklore and the Night Sky in the recently published The Book of the Skelligs, he will take us through the stories and tales associated with the evening skies. This event will be delivered through English but attendees will learn some of the terms associated as Gaeilge!

Free - Supported by  Comhchoiste Ghaeltacht Uíbh Ráthaigh agus  Fobairt Na Dromoda 

Astronomy of Medieval Irish Monks
Saturday 25th March | 8pm – 9pm

Prof. Paul Callanan's talk will be based around his chapter 'The Skelligs and the Night Sky' in the recently published The Book of the Skelligs. During this fascinating talk he will discuss how the night sky the Monks observed was slightly different to the one we view today, and how they used the night sky to decide the dates of religious festivals.

Free - Supported by the LIVE Project, UCC and Comhchoiste Ghaeltacht Uíbh Ráthaigh agus Fobairt Na Dromoda 

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Stargazing and Astronomy- St Finians Bay
Saturday 25th March | 8.30pm – 10.30pm

Join Steve Lynott of Kerry Dark Sky Tourism and John Flannery of Irish Astronomical Association for an evening of stargazing and astronomy at St. Finians Bay, Co. Kerry

St. Finians Bay is an ideal location for stargazing, and as such is one we have used many times before. Steve and John are both experienced stargazing guides and will take attendees on a journey of the night sky.

Free  - supported by Kerry Dark Sky Tourism

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‘Get your rig out’- Onsite Camera hints and tips
Saturday 25th March | 9pm – 10pm

Bring your camera! Marty and Keith will show attendees how to set up their own camera rig, whatever level they are at, or how high spec the gear is, to get the best night time photos.  

Free - Supported by  Comhchoiste Ghaeltacht Uíbh Ráthaigh agus Fobairt Na Dromoda 

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Stargazing for All!  - Dromid
Saturday 25th March | 9pm – 11pm

We know that some people will have been stargazing with us before so this Saturday event in Dromid will offer two different astronomy experiences, catering for beginners and more experienced stargazers.

Free - Supported by the LIVE Project, Comhchoiste Ghaeltacht Uíbh Ráthaigh and Fobairt Na Dromoda 

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Archaeology Talk - Eightercua Stone Row
Sunday 26th March | 2pm – 3pm

Join historian Dr Eoin O’Neill on a short walk to the Standing Stones at Eightercua, these fascinating stones align with the setting sun at the winter solstice making them an important archeological site associated with the evening sky. This stone row is also rich in folklore.

This event is now fully booked with a waitlist enacted. You can sign up to this waitlist and you will be notified if a place becomes available.

Free - Supported by the LIVE Project and Comhchoiste Ghaeltacht Uíbh Ráthaigh

  Festival Events happening on Friday 24th March 2023
  Festival Events happening on Saturday 25th March 2023
  Festival Events happening on Sunday 26th March 2023
Sponsors and Supporters

Míle buíochas, many thanks to our Festival sponsors and supporters!

Sponsors: LIVE Project, UCC, South Kerry Development Partnership, Kerry County Council, Comhchoiste Uíbh Ráthaigh, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Brí Uíbh Ratháigh, Skellig Six18 Distllery and Visitor Experience, Fobairt Na Dromoda 

Supporters: OPW/Derrynane House, Caherdaniel Dark Sky Group, Kerry Dark Sky Tourism, Astropotography Club Ireland, Tech Amergin Arts and Education Centre, Heritage Iveragh / Oidhreacht Uíbh Ráthaigh, Cill Rialaig Arts Centre, Dromid Community Centre - Forbairt na Dromoda, Sea Synergy, Skellig Sauna, Kerry Aqua Terra, Anne Marie Uí Gearailt (Údarás), John Griffin, (Kerry Tourism Officer), Oonagh Walsh (Skellig Coast Tourism Network), Eimear Ní Mhurchú (Dromid, Fobairt Na Dromoda), Noelle Campbell-Sharpe (Cill Rialaig),  Chris O'Neill (OPW), Declan Walsh (OPW),  Noelle Campbell-Sharpe (Cill Rialaig), Marion O'Neill (Tech Amergin), John Flannery, Stephen Lynott, Michael Sheehan, Seán O'Laoighaire, Dee O'Shea, Eoin O'Neill, Caomhín de Bhailís,  Victor Bayda, June O'Connell, Michael Sheehan, Clodagh Cahill, Orla Breslin, Lucy Taylor, Barbara Cassidy, Seán Mac an tSithigh, Paul Callanan, Martin Mc Cormack and Keith Levins (Astrophptography Club Ireland), Dessie Cronin, Noel Donnelly, Frank Donnelly and to the wider community of the Kerry Dark Sky Reserve and across the Iveragh Peninsula.

Want to find out what happened in the 2022 Festival? You can find out here.
You can also download our detailed report
Find out about 'Fields of Darkness' a creative documentary filmed in the Kerry Dark Sky Reserve here
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