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Trinity College's Science Gallery saw the greatest increase in visitor numbers in 2010, with a 30 per cent jump in attendees. infomatique via Flickr

Irish museums and galleries boast 3 million visitors in 2010

Over 3.5 million people attended exhibits and events in Ireland’s cultural institutions – up by 7 per cent on 2009.

OVER THREE-AND-A-HALF million people attended events and exhibitions at Ireland’s galleries, museums and libraries last year – an increase of around seven per cent, according to tourism chiefs.

The Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport has published attendance figures for some of the country’s larger galleries and other venues – and while some venues have seen a reasonable dropoff in the number of people coming through the doors, the overall picture is a healthy one.

The National Library of Ireland on Kildare Street in Dublin, for example, saw visitor numbers jumped by around 47,000 – with 185,000 people coming through its doors last year.

Trinity College’s Science Gallery, meanwhile, saw visitor numbers surge by almost 50,000 – with almost 217,000 people visiting the exhibition and gallery space just off the Trinity College campus.

In its first nine months back open to the public after closure, meanwhile, the Natural History Museum attracted over a quarter of a million visitors.

Despite a number of high-profile exhibitions, though, figures were down significantly in other venues: the National Gallery on Merrion Square saw visitors fall by almost six per cent, despite high-profile exhibitions featuring the work of Gabriel Metsu, and a ‘Taking Stock’ exhibit showcasing the gallery’s more recent acquisitions.

It remained the most popular state-funded cultural institution in the country, however, with almost 737,000 visitors through its doors in 2010.

The National History Museum at Collins’ Barracks, however, saw visitor numbers drop by a massive 19 per cent, from almost 320,000 in 2009 to just under 259,000 last year. Some of this fall, however, could be attributed to the reopening of the Natural History Museum.

Elsewhere, the National Concert Hall saw attendances fall by about 7 per cent, down to 318,667, while the Irish Museum of Modern Art saw its numbers remain broadly unchanged – despite a four-week closure in 2009 that hit its attendances for that year.

IN OTHER TOURISM NEWS, Ryanair has submitted a written proposal to the Dublin Airport Authority, offering to grow its Shannon passenger numbers from 300,000 to 1.3m in the next five years.

The DAA has said that some aspects of the plan are “unsustainable”, however, and said the airport would be forced to pay the airline €4.20 for every passenger using the airport above the current levels – while also seeking an exemption from landing charges.