National Gallery tops list of most-visited free attraction

Museum of Style Icons in Kildare is new entry on free desinations in Ireland list

The National Gallery of Ireland, still the most popular free attraction. Photograph: Alan Betson

The National Gallery of Ireland, still the most popular free attraction. Photograph: Alan Betson


The lure of international movie star memorabilia has propelled the Museum of Style Icons in Co Kildare into the top 10 list of the Republic’s most visited free attractions.

Among fee-charging attractions, Guinness Storehouse in Dublin edges out Dublin Zoo for the number one spot for the third year in a row, according to rankings compiled by Fáilte Ireland.

The Newbridge Silverware Visitor Centre, with its Museum of Style Icons that opened in 2007 and displays garments that once adorned the rich and famous, such as Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Diana and The Beatles, attracted 350,000 visitors last year. That puts it fifth in the top 10 of free destinations and the only place outside Dublin to make the list. The National Gallery again tops the list, with almost 650,000 visitors.

The Gathering

Holy Cross Abbey in Co Tipperary and Connemara National Park, Co Galway, which both made the cut in 2012, have dropped down the free rankings, to 14th and 11th places respectively, while the National Library of Ireland is included at number eight.

For attractions that charge admission, the 2013 top 10 mirrors that of the previous year. However, between them they recorded a 5 per cent increase in visitors during the year of The Gathering, while the combined top 10 free attractions saw a 7 per cent jump.

“The visitor numbers for the attractions last year are another encouraging sign pointing towards growth in tourism,” Fáilte Ireland’s chief executive, Shaun Quinn, told The Irish Times.

“While we are pleased with the performance of our current stock of attractions, Fáilte Ireland is keenly focused on future growth – and that will involve developing new attractions and bringing to life many of our existing attractions, to ensure that Ireland continues to appeal to overseas visitors.”



The tourism authority has directed investment of close to €120 million into almost 60 capital projects throughout the country over the past five years.


“This year alone,” Mr Quinn added, “we are investing €8 million in capital infrastructure along the Wild Atlantic Way” – a 2,500km route running from Kinsale, Co Cork to Inishowen in Co Donegal.

The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, which drew almost one million visitors last year to rank third in the fee-charging list, is one of four sites outside the capital to make the top 10. Co Cork registers twice, with Fota Wildlife Park in eighth place and Blarney Castle in ninth, while Co Meath’s Tayto Park comes in at number six.

Changes in the free list include the rise of the State- owned Farmleigh to third place from fourth, and the fall of the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin, from fifth to sixth.

1. National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin 641,572
2. National Botanic Gardens, Dublin 550,000
3. Farmleigh House, Dublin 435,476
4. National Museum of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 404,230
5. Newbridge Silverware, Kildare 350,000
6. Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin 339,264
7. National Museum of Ireland, Natural History, Dublin 284,323
8. The National Library of Ireland, Dublin 260,152
9. National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin 251,226
10. Chester Beatty Library Dublin 250,659

1. Guinness, Storehouse, Dublin 1,157,090
2. Dublin Zoo 1,026,611
3. Cliffs of Moher, Clare 960,134
4. National Aquatic Centre, Dublin 858,031
5. Book of Kells, Dublin, 588,723
6. Tayto Park, Meath 435,000
7. St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin 410,000
8. Fota Wildlife Park, Cork 365,396
9. Blarney Castle, Cork 365,000
10. Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin 326,207