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Ireland's top tourist attractions, free and fee-paying, are revealed

Cliffs, castles and theme parks all made it onto the list of Ireland’s most visited tourist attractions.

The Cliff's of Moher Experience was Ireland's second most visited attraction.
The Cliff's of Moher Experience was Ireland's second most visited attraction.

THE GUINNESS STOREHOUSE has topped the list once again as Ireland’s top tourist attraction, after more than 1.7 million people passed through St James’s Gate in 2018.

It drew in an extra 25,000 more visitors than in 2017 and remains in the top spot of fee-charging attractions. 

Behind the storehouse on the list is the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience which attracted 1.5 million visitors, followed by Dublin Zoo, which attracted over 1.2 million visitors. 

A separate list of free-to-enter attractions, saw Kilkenny Castle Parklands make the cut for the first time – it jumped straight to the top with 799,032 visitors last year and knocked the National Gallery of Ireland into second place.

In 2017, the gallery drew in over one million visitors, but that plummeted by more than 300,00 to 775, 3824 in 2018. 

Two major exhibits -Beyond Caravaggio and Vermeer and the mmasters of genre Painting – launched in 2017 in a newly refurbished wing, however, which lent to the appeal for tourists in Dublin that year. 

In third place on the free-to-enter list was Glendalough, followed by the National Botanic Gardens. 

A spokesperson for Fáilte Ireland, which carried out the survey, said challenges remain in developing and promoting a world-class tourism industry in Ireland. 

Director of product development, Orla Carroll said: “While 2018 was a positive year for most of Ireland’s top attractions, there are many challenges ahead for the tourism industry.

“Our work with attractions in helping them grow their visitor numbers through training and funding is a significant part of what we do across the country.”

shutterstock_557974951 The Guinness Storehouse at St James's Gate topped the list once again. Source: Shutterstock/abd

Overall, the top 10 fee-paying attractions are:

  1. Guinness Storehouse – 1,736,156
  2. Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience – 1,580,000
  3. Dublin Zoo – 1,230,146
  4. Book of Kells – 1,057,642
  5. Tayto park – 700,000
  6. St Patrick’s Cathedral – 627,199
  7. Kylemore Abbey & Garden – 561,657
  8. Muckrose House – 550,649
  9. Powerscourt House Garden and Waterfall – 472,523
  10. Blarney Castle & Gardens – 460,000

Kilkenny Kilkenny Castle jumped to the top of the free-to-enter list of attractions for 2018. Source: Fáilte Ireland

The full list of Ireland’s top 10 free-to-enter attractions are:

  1. Kilkenny Castle Parklands – 799,032
  2. National Gallery of Ireland – 775,491
  3. Glendalough Site – 732,824
  4. National Botanic Gardens – 655,609
  5. Castletown House Parklands – 642 278
  6. Irish Museum of Modern Art – 505,891
  7. Doneraile Park – 490,000
  8. National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology – 466,038
  9. Farmleigh House Estate – 389,932
  10. Battle of the Boyne/Oldbridge – 355,608

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