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Monday 11 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Magnificent Seven

7 Irish heritage sites to visit now that kids can go for free

Dozens of heritage sites across the country are giving children under 12 free admission.

AS OF SATURDAY July 1, 45 heritage sites managed by the Office of Public Works are now free to visit for children under 12 years of age.

The government announced the measure last Wednesday in the hope that it would “…encourage our children to experience some of the best cultural and heritage sites in the country”.

So considering the weather forecast for this weekend is fairly decent, we put a short list together of some places that will be a little cheaper for families to visit:

Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre

Lonely Planet's Ultimate Travelist Niall Carson / PA Images Brú na Bóinne - the prehistoric monument and passage tombs at Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth, Co Meath - is one of six destinations on the island of Ireland named on a global must-see list for tourists. Niall Carson / PA Images / PA Images

Brú na Bóinne is an area within the bend of the River Boyne which contains one of the world’s most important prehistoric landscapes, built some 5,000 years ago in the Neolithic or Late Stone Age.

Opening hours: June – mid-September, from 9am – 7pm

Tickets: Adults €4-13; group/senior: €3-10

Desmond Castle, Kinsale, Co Cork

shutterstock_216130093 (1) Shutterstock / Andrei Nekrassov Shutterstock / Andrei Nekrassov / Andrei Nekrassov

An urban tower house, built by the Earl of Desmond around the year 1500, the castle consists of a three storey keep with storehouses at the back.

It was originally built as a Customs House, served as a prison in the 18th century, an ordnance store during the Battle of Kinsale in 1601, and as a workhouse during the Great Famine.

Today Desmond Castle hosts the International Museum of Wine Exhibition, an intriguing story that documents the unique history of Ireland’s wine links with Europe and the wider world.

Opening hours: 12 April – 4 October, from 10am – 6pm

Tickets: Adults: €5; group/senior: €4

Clonmacnoise, Athlone Co Offaly

shutterstock_472490176 Shutterstock / Attila JANDI Shutterstock / Attila JANDI / Attila JANDI

An Early Christian site founded by St Ciarán in the mid-6th century on the eastern bank of the River Shannon.

The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches (10th -13th century), two round towers, three high crosses and the largest collection of Early Christian graveslabs in Western Europe.

The original high crosses and a selection of graveslabs are on display in the visitor centre.

Opening hours: June – August, daily from 9am – 6.30pm

Tickets: Adults €8; seniors: €6

Dublin Castle

shutterstock_611177168 Shutterstock / Avillfoto Shutterstock / Avillfoto / Avillfoto

Located in the heart of the capital city, Dublin Castle was built in the 13th century on a site previously settled by the Vikings.

It has since functioned as a military fortress, a prison, treasury, courts of law and the seat of English Administration in Ireland for 700 years, and has been rebuilt on numerous occasions.

Opening hours: Monday – Sunday, from 9.45am – 5.45pm

Tickets: Adult €10, seniors €8

Sligo Abbey

shutterstock_248431750 Shutterstock / Sergejus Lamanosovas Shutterstock / Sergejus Lamanosovas / Sergejus Lamanosovas

Known locally as the Abbey, this Dominican Friary was founded in the mid – 13th century by Maurice Fitzgerald. The site contains a great wealth of carvings including Gothic and Renaissance tomb sculpture, well preserved cloister and the only sculptured 15th century high altar to survive in any Irish monastic church.

Opening hours: 6 April – 18 October, from 10am – 6pm.

Tickets: Adult: €5; group/senior: €4

Roscrea Heritage Centre, Co Tipperary

Roscrea Heritage Google Maps Google Maps

The stone castle consists of a gate tower, curtain walls and two corner towers dating from the 1280s. The castle rooms are furnished and some house exhibitions.

Built in the early 18th century in the Queen Anne style, Damer House is an example of pre-Palladian architecture. Within the complex, there is a restored mill displaying original St Cronan’s high cross and pillar stone.

Opening hours: 13 April – 27 September, from 10am – 6pm

Tickets: Adults €5; group/senior €4

Glenveagh Castle, Co Donegal

shutterstock_412443148 Shutterstock / Benjamin B Shutterstock / Benjamin B / Benjamin B

Glenveagh Castle is a 19th century castellated mansion and was built between 1867 and 1873. Its construction in a remote mountain setting was inspired by the Victorian idyll of a romantic highland retreat.

The building stone chosen by the designer was granite – plentiful in Donegal but difficult to work and allowing for little detail.

The castle is surrounded by beautiful ornate gardens and beyond that, a national park of lakes and rust-coloured mountain ranges.

Opening hours: 17 March – 31 October, from 9.15am to 5.30pm

Tickets: Adults €7

The rest of the list includes:

  • Ardfert Catherdral
  • Athenry Castle
  • Aughnanure Castle
  • Battle of the Boyne
  • Blasket Visitor Centre
  • Cahir Castle
  • Carrowmore
  • Casino Marino
  • Castletown
  • Céide Fields
  • Charles Fort

shutterstock_650980909 Shutterstock / Grantibo Charles Fort, Kinsale, Co Cork Shutterstock / Grantibo / Grantibo

  • Clonmacnoise
  • Derrynane House
  • Donegal Castle
  • Dun Aonghasa
  • Dunmore Caves
  • Emo Court
  • Ennis Friary
  • Garnish Island (Illnacullin)
  • Glebe House and Gallery
  • Glendalough Visitor Centre
  • Hill of Tara
  • JF Kennedy Arboretum
  • Jerpoint Abbey
  • Kilkenny Castle
  • Kilmainham Gaol
  • Knowth
  • Mellifont Abbey
  • Newgrange
  • Parke’s Castle
  • Pearse Cottage
  • Portumna Castle
  • Rathfarnham Castle
  • Reginald’s Tower
  • Rock of Cashel

shutterstock_657127189 Shutterstock / mikroman6 Rock of Cashel. Shutterstock / mikroman6 / mikroman6

  • Ross Castle
  • Swiss Cottage
  • Tintern Abbey
  • Trim Castle and Keep

Read: Good news for parents – kids are being given free admission to dozens of Irish heritage sites

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