Kilkenny Castle Parklands named most popular free attaction
Guinness Storehouse, Cliffs of Moher and Dublin Zoo busiest fee-paying sites in State
The newfound popularity of Kilkenny Castle Parklands is largely a result of the Office of Public Works putting in counters at the attraction in 2017. Photograph: iStock
A pint of the black stuff continues to be the best way to bring in tourists, with the Guinness Storehouse once again being named the country’s most popular fee-paying attraction.
The Dublin 8 site had more than 1.7 million visitors last year, up almost 25,000 when compared with 2017, according to figures released by Fáilte Ireland this weekend.
The Cliffs of Moher and Dublin Zoo came second and third in the category, with 1,580,000 people looking at the Cliffs in Co Clare and 1,230,145 people walking through the gates of the zoo last year.
The Book of Kells was named fourth with just over one million visitors, while Tayto Park amassed 700,000 entrants last year.
The most popular free entry attraction was the Kilkenny Castle Parklands, which is a new entry on the list and which had almost 800,000 visitors last year.
The newfound popularity of the attraction is largely a result of the Office of Public Works putting in counters at the attraction in 2017, the tourist body said.
A similar success story happened for the Battle of the Boyne, which made its debut at number 10 on the free-entry list and which had more than 350,000 visitors last year.
The National Gallery Ireland came second in the “free-to-enter” category, following closely behind the Kilkenny attraction, with 775,491 people taking a trip to see the art on show.
The number of people visiting the gallery dropped by almost 300,000 when compared with 2017, when there were more than 1 million attendees.
Fáilte Ireland has attributed the drop to the fact that in 2017, the gallery re-opened a newly refurbished wing and hosted two major exhibitions; Beyond Caravaggio and Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry, which attracted large numbers of visitors that year.
Orla Carroll, director of product development at Fáilte Ireland, said that the attractions are successful because you can’t find them anywhere else.
“I think if you look on the list, you’ll see a commonality in the sense that they are all really good, immersive attractions, the idea being the visitor is engaged, the visitor is learning something about our culture and heritage and there’s a lot of engagement and interaction,” Ms Carroll said.
“They’re quite unique experiences to Ireland, you don’t find a Guinness Storehouse anywhere else, you don’t find a Kilkenny parklands, you know Kylemore Abbey is very much specific to Ireland, so it’s very unique and distinctive to Ireland,” she added.