Home of the black stuff still number one for tourists
HOLLYWOOD A-lister Tom Cruise and two cast members of the hit drama series 'Breaking Bad' were among a record number of visitors last year to Ireland's number one tourist attraction, The Guinness Storehouse.
Mr Cruise was given a personal tour of the actual brewery as well as the storehouse during a visit to the capital in April to promote his film 'Oblivion', while 'Breaking Bad' actors Dean Norris, who plays DEA agent Hank Schrader, and drugs lord Gus Fring, played by actor Giancarlo Esposito, were also among the 1,156,985 people who visited the iconic St James's Gate brewery last year.
The attraction -- which broke its 2012 record of 1,087,000 visitors -- had its best year to date last year and remains the must-see attraction for international visitors.
Dublin Zoo -- which celebrated its 350th anniversary in 2012 -- follows close behind with figures revealing more than a million visitors passing through its gates last year.
The Cliffs of Moher, which saw a 10pc increase in visitors last year, remains the third most popular attraction in the Republic.
Some 960,134 visited the cliffs in Co Clare in 2013, up from 873,988 visitors in 2012.
A combination of good weather last summer, a growth in the group travel market and increased numbers of tourists due to The Gathering initiative helped to swell visitor numbers for the third successive year, according to Katherine Webster, director of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience.
Tourists from North America and Continental Europe -- especially Germany -- made up the bulk of visitors. However the number of Irish visitors to the cliffs was also strong, she said.
Meanwhile, the National Gallery of Ireland and the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin remain on track for the fourth and fifth most popular attractions last year.
Provisional figures show that the National Gallery -- which drew 660,486 visitors in 2012 and was the most popular free attraction in Ireland that year -- was down slightly last year with an estimated 640,000 visitors to such popular exhibitions as a collection of sketches by Irish painter Jack B Yeats and its permanent exhibition of masterpieces including Caravaggio's The Taking of Christ.
The Botanic Gardens estimates its numbers were up last year on the previous year from 545,000 in 2012 to 550,000 last year.