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9/5/2014 (The Kiwi/Kerry Connection)

On Monday 12th May 2014 the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve (I.D.S.R.) will be unwrapping an unexpected gift. There is a lot of mystery surrounding this present but all will be revealed at an opening ceremony in Kerry this coming Monday night at 10pm. The gift has travelled halfway across the world to make its way to Julie Ormonde, Project Manager of the Kerry I.D.S.R. in Ireland. The format and style of this gift will be explained at the opening ceremony in Derrynane Hotel, near Caherdaniel.

At the end of January I read the news about the Kerry I.D.S.R. in Ireland, being Lake Tekapo at duskawarded gold tier status for their dark sky reserve. It’s the first gold tier status reserve in the Northern Hemisphere and a major achievement for Kerry. There are eight dark sky reserves in the world and only three of them are gold tier level: the NamibRand Nature Reserve, in Namibia, Africa, Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve in New Zealand and now the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve. What is a dark sky reserve you might ask? Well, to quote the International Dark Sky Association (I.D.A.) who gives these awards, here is the following explanation. “It is a public or private land, possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment mission of a large peripheral area”. In my next blog I provide more information about this and the I.D.A.

I work for the Earth and Sky Observatory, in Lake Tekapo, New Zealand, home of the Aoraki Mackenzie Reserve. Being Irish myself, I thought that this would be a great opportunity to build a connection, not only between Ireland and New Zealand but also between the two gold tier status locations, on opposite sides of the world. I also wanted to write about it. My intention was to get two articles published in Ireland and three published here in New Zealand. So I mentioned this whole idea to my boss, Margaret Munro, General Manager of Earth and Sky and to Chris Monson, the Assistant Manager. Chris suggested the idea of giving Kerry a gift, to sort of “welcome them to the fold”. Between us all we worked on the design and the type of gift that it should be. I’ll go deeper into the concept and design of the gift in the next part of the blog.

Lake Tekapo GardenBetween the end of January and now, I’ve put a lot of work into making the presentation of this gift happen. All of that work in between will be explained later and believe me, there’s a lot to tell. It doesn’t just stop at the presentation of the gift though, there will also be a long term relationship established between both locations. We sent the present by courier and it got there in one piece thankfully, with one hiccup along the way. It’s an exciting project and will also be a long term one. I did manage to get an article published in Ireland in The Kerryman Newspaper. Here is the article. I’m working on the New Zealand articles at the moment.

Julie Ormonde expects some of the press to be at the opening and will also be skyping us here at Earth and Sky in New Zealand when they open the gift. There will be a Japanese film crew there too to film the opening ceremony. This will be part of a documentary they are making while in the Kerry Dark Sky Reserve.

To find out more about this project, from inception to now and its future plans, read my follow-up blog posts.