Record 6.6 million visitors to Irish heritage sites

National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin most popular OPW heritage site in 2016

National Botanic Gardens, in Glasnevin, Dublin. Photograph; Dara Mac Dónaill

National Botanic Gardens, in Glasnevin, Dublin. Photograph; Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The National Botanic Gardens, Kilmainham Gaol, Castletown House and the Rock of Cashel were among the most popular heritage attractions in 2016 with record numbers visiting sites across the State.

The number of visitors to Office of Public Works (OPW) heritage sites rose to 6.6 million last year, a significant increase on the previous year. The most popular heritage site in 2016 was the National Botanic Gardens where 583,539 people visited the lush greenery in Glasnevin on Dublin’s northside, up more than 30,000 people on 2015.

The number of visitors to Castletown House and Parklands in Co Kildare nearly doubled last year, with 547,324 visiting the 18th-century Celbridge mansion and its surrounding gardens, up from 297,691 in 2015.

These sites are not only iconic attractions which entice international visitors but also contribute significantly to the quality of life of our own citizens

Kilkenny Castle welcomed record-breaking numbers through its gates with 384,918 visitors to the castle and its grounds, while the completion of a new visitor facility in the old Kilmainham Courthouse in Dublin saw numbers to Kilmainham Gaol rise by 64,335 to 390,970 for 2016.

Dublin Castle, the Rock of Cashel in Co Tipperary, the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre in Dublin, the Hill of Tara visitor centre in Co Meath, Clonmacnoise, Co Offaly and the Dún Aonghasa fort, Co Galway also saw visitor numbers steadily rise last year.

International visitors

Kevin “Boxer” Moran, Minister of State at the OPW, commended the office for its work in managing and caring for the State’s heritage sites.

“These sites are not only iconic attractions which entice international visitors but also contribute significantly to the quality of life of our own citizens,” said Mr Moran following the publication of the figures. “I compliment the staff of the OPW who work tirelessly to ensure that all visitors to our sites are welcomed with warmth and professionalism.”

Central Statistics Office figures published last month revealed that while the number of visitors from overseas continued to rise in the early months of 2017, numbers arriving from the UK have fallen by almost 11 per cent as the post-Brexit fall in sterling made it more expensive to travel.

Between February and April, the number of all overseas trips to Ireland from abroad increased slightly by 0.1 per cent, or an overall increase of about 2,600 arrivals. However, the number of people arriving from the UK fell from 958,100 to 855,800. For the same three-month period last year there were 673,300 more visitors from the UK than from the second highest point of origin, north America.