Dark Sky Park Tyrone
Dark Sky Park Tyrone

Davagh Forest Dark Sky Park First in Ulster

Davagh Forest, which is located in the heart of the Sperrin Mountains in County Tyrone is Ulster's first International Dark Sky Park.

The Dark Sky Observatory in the Darragh Forest, Tyrone. Photo: Courtesy of Tourism Northern Ireland. Donal Moloney, photographer.

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The International Dark-Sky Association, which is based in Tucson, Az., added the Northern Ireland location in 2020 to its list of dark places around the world.

This is the third such dark sky attraction on the island of Ireland.

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Using telescopes at the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan, Failte Ireland.

The other two include the Mayo Dark Sky Park in Ballycroy National Park and the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve in Ballinskelligs, County Kerry.

Davagh Forest, which is famous for being the site of the Beaghmore Stone Circles, is known for its lack of light pollution.

An observatory is now open that showcases this newest dark sky park on the island of Ireland.

The state-of-the-art facility provides exceptionally clear views of the night sky as it would have been seen in Ireland centuries ago.

a large telescope Davagh Forest
The OM Dark Sky Park Observatory at Davagh Park. Photo: Tourism Northern Ireland.

The centerpiece of the observatory is a retractable roof where a 14-inch LX600 Meade telescope is used during special stargazing events and VIP tours.

Touch screens, binoculars, mini-telescopes, and various interpretative panels help to enrich the experience for those taking the observatory's exhibition tour.

In addition, virtual reality headsets enable participants to witness the birth of a star and the fascinating Aurora Borealis.

two people sitting on a wall at night Davagh Forest
The outdoor screen at the dark sky park. Photo courtesy of Tourism Northern Ireland.

The night-time experience also includes an outdoor film screening that takes viewers into the vastness of the universe and swoops them through an ancient forest under the fast-flowing Broughderg River before soaring up into the sky.

Stars and Stones Experience

Visitors who want to get the most out of their visit to the observatory might want to sign up for the Stars and Stones Experience, which includes spending the evening and night at the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains and seeing the famous Beaghmore Stone Circles, which many consider to be the region's first ancient observatory.

A local storyteller recounts the story of the stones, weaving together information on astronomy and the archaeology of the region.

Visitors participating in the Stars and Stones Experience at the OM Dark Sky Park in Tyrone. Photo: Donal Maloney, Tourism Northern Ireland.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to see the stars close-up through the hi-tech LX 600 Meade telescope and end their adventure at Sperrin View Glamping, close to the ancient stone circle.

The dark sky park is open seven days a week, Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m., and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tickets must be booked in advance online.

An Area Rich in Culture and History

The County Tyrone dark sky park is an area rich in culture and history.

large stones in a field Davagh Forest
The Beaghmore Stone Circles are located close to the newly designated dark sky park in Davagh Forest, County Tyrone. Photo courtesy of Tourism Northern Ireland.

The Beaghmore Stone Circles, about 8.5 miles (13 km) northwest of Cookstown, is a complex of early Bronze Age stone circles and cairns.

The site dates to the early Bronze Age and is evidence of the ancient rituals of the Celtic people.

The site was discovered in the 1940s by locals who were cutting turf.

Read More: See Other Attractions in Northern Ireland

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