GMIT Mayo and Mayo Dark-Skies Project host night appreciation event

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 Press Office
Press Release

Outdoor Education students host dark evening activity on Lough Lannagh (10 Dec, 6.30pm)

Students on the GMIT Mayo Outdoor Education programme are to hold a dark evening activity event on Thursday, 10 December, at Lough Lannagh in Castlebar in association with the Mayo Dark Skies Project.


The Mayo Dark Skies Project was set up as a community group to prepare an application for International Dark-Sky recognition for the Ballycroy and Wild Nephin Wilderness. The criteria for achieving Dark-sky recognition goes beyond establishing that an area is sufficiently dark from an astronomy point of view; it requires engagement with the wider community in nearby urban spaces through education and outreach events to raise awareness of light pollution and energy waste and its impact on environmental issues. 


Research for the Mayo Dark Skies project began at GMIT Mayo through the Outdoor Education degree programme. GMIT Mayo’s’ Green Campus group and staff have been fully supportive of the initiative and students from the Creative Arts Module will collaborate on the planned event.

The event aims to create awareness of, and appreciate, the value of natural night skies in the West and to allow for some star gazing from kayaks in the middle of the lake. The evening will also highlight how activities can still continue to be enjoyed throughout the darker winter evenings. 


The evening event will feature a short demonstration of student works from the Creative Arts module, designed to appreciate the beauty of natural night time, followed by a night paddle in kayaks around Lough Lannagh and beyond by students and local kayak/canoe clubs.


GMIT welcomes everyone to join in by participating in a short candle/lantern lit gathering at the lake whilst the kayakers are on the water. The evening will culminate with refreshments at the Greenway Café in Lough Lannagh village.


GMIT lecturer Orla Prendergast says: “The evening is designed to appreciate the value of our natural night skies and the low lighting around the lake will visually enhance the artistic creation and maximize the effect of the lantern lights. The kayakers will venture into an area completely free of urban light when they paddle further down the lake.”

Georgia MacMillan, Mayo Dark Skies Project Manager, says: “Here in Mayo we have some of the most pristine night time skies in Europe; a natural asset which is worth preserving.  We have timed the event to coincide with the darkest phase of the lunar cycle and activities on the lake will be themed to complement the night sky.  In doing this we hope to raise awareness of the rapid expansion of artificial lighting around the country and the consequences this has on our wildlife, eco-systems, sleep patterns and also the financial impact.”


The event gets underway at 6.30pm on Thursday, 10 December, with the Dark Sky /Creative Art Piece demonstrated by GMIT students. At 6.45pm, the Dark Sky lantern-lit paddle takes place on Lough Lannagh with paddlers expected to return by 7.30pm. The evening will end with refreshments in the nearby Lough Lannagh Café.


For further information on this event, place contact Orla Prendergast, lecturer on the GMIT Mayo Outdoor Education Programme, or Georgia MacMillan, Mayo Dark Skies Project,  For information on GMIT’s Outdoor Education degree programme, please see:…