OPW to make all its heritage attractions free for under-12s this summer
Children under the age of 12 will be given free access to all heritage sites across the country managed by the OPW Heritage Service.
Opening up sites like the Rock of Cashel and Newgrange for free is one of the first actions by the new OPW Minister, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran.
The initiative, starting Saturday, is intended to encourage families to visit iconic landmarks during the holiday period.
The minister said it will provide "a huge opportunity to encourage our children to experience some of the best cultural and heritage sites in the country".
"We have some wonderful places to visit like Clonmacnoise, Kilkenny Castle, Newgrange and the Rock of Cashel," said Mr Moran.
"I want every child to have an opportunity to visit them with their families during the summer holidays and up to the end of the year."
The Office of Public Works (OPW) already offers free entry for children under six. Entry to its sites is also free to all on the first Wednesday of every month.
In 2016, about 80,000 children availed of its Free Schools Visits programme.
The programme is intended to support the educational curriculum and children can, with their teachers, engage with art, history and social science at heritage locations throughout the country.
Mr Moran, who was speaking for the first time as Minister of State in the Seanad, added that the OPW already operated a free scheme for school visits, which would remain unchanged.
"We are already very active in the OPW in terms of facilitating children through the Free Schools Visits programme" said the minister.
"I want to extend that positive approach throughout the summer holiday period and beyond so that kids will learn to enjoy coming to these sites. I'd like to spread the message to families that wouldn't normally think of coming to a heritage site and encourage them to make a visit."
More information is available at heritageireland.ie/en.