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Dublin: 10°C Sunday 25 July 2021

Here's what topped the list of the most visited OPW sites in Ireland last year

Kilkenny, Dublin and Wicklow had the top three most visited attractions last year.

Kilkenny Castle topped the list for most visitors.
Kilkenny Castle topped the list for most visitors.
Image: Shutterstock/Fabian Junge

KILKENNY CASTLE WAS the most visited national monument or heritage site operated by the Office of Public Works (OPW) last year.

Over three-quarters of a million people have visited the landmark in each of the past two years, with 799,032 making their way there in 2018.

In second place in terms of visitor numbers was Glendalough in Wicklow with 732,824 in 2018. The Botanic Gardens in Dublin came third with 655,609 visitors last year.

Across 10 publicly-owned sites administered by the OPW in Dublin, 2.1 million people visited them last year.

This included 430,960 at Kilmainham Goal, 431,340 at Dublin Castle and 389,932 at Farmleigh Estate by the Phoenix Park. 

dublin visitors The figure on the far right denotes 2018 visitors, while the figure to the left of that is 2017. Source: OPW

The next nearest county when it came to visitor numbers was Meath which came just short of a million visitors with 996,202.

meath opw Source: OPW

The most popular sites there were the Battle of the Boyne site/Oldbridge Estate with 355,608 visitors, the Hill of Tara visitor centre with 166,468 and Newgrange with 154,195.

Here’s the top location in the rest of the counties listed by the OPW:

  • Carlow – Altamont – 67,423 visitors
  • Clare – Ennis Friary – 13,637
  • Cork – Doneraile Park – 490,000
  • Donegal – Grianan of Alieach – 90,435
  • Galway – Dún Aonghasa – 136,042
  • Kerry – Derrynane House and Parklands – 169,047
  • Kildare – Castletown House and Parklands – 642,278
  • Laois – Emo Court House and Parklands – 315,204
  • Leitrim – Parke’s Castle – 21,392
  • Limerick – Desmond Hall – 15,845
  • Longford – Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre – 7,750
  • Louth – Mellifont Abbey – 29,989
  • Mayo – Céide Fields – 31,854
  • Offaly – Clonmacnoise – 154,330
  • Roscommon – Boyle abey – 6,799
  • Sligo – Carrowmore – 46,766
  • Tipperary – Rock of Cashel – 374,092
  • Waterford – Reginald’s Tower – 44,232
  • Wexford – JF Kennedy Arboretum – 118,006

Minister of State Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran released the statistics through a parliamentary question. 

He said: “Notwithstanding the considerable extent of locations, both staffed and unstaffed sites, which are currently available, it is clear that further visitor potential exists within the portfolio of properties in State care.

Both the OPW and the Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht remain open to developing such possibilities, either directly themselves, through engagement with the Fáilte Ireland Tourism Capital Development Programme 2016 – 21, or in conjunction with community groups or other stakeholders in local communities.

About the author:

Sean Murray

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