Revealed: Ireland's most-popular tourist attractions (paid and free) as visitor numbers soar

Guinness Storehouse Brewing experience

Rebecca Lumley

DUBLIN'S Guinness Storehouse isn't just the home of the black stuff, it seems it's black with people for most of the year.

The Storehouse at St James’s Gate was Ireland’s most visited attraction in 2016, according to figures released by Fáilte Ireland.

In its annual list of top visitor attractions, the Guinness Storehouse welcomed 1.6m visitors last year - a 10pc increase on the year before.

It was closely followed by the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, which saw 1.4m visitors and a 14pc increase on previous figures.

Dublin Zoo came in third, citing 1.1m visitors and a 3pc increase in traffic, followed by the National Aquatic Centre (1m visitors) and the Book of Kells (890,000 visitors).

While an adult ticket for the Guinness Storehouse will set you back €14, Dublin also plays host to a number of free to-enter attractions, the most popular of which is the National Gallery of Ireland.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at the Guinness Storehouse, in Dublin in 2011. Photo: Reuters

According to Fáilte Ireland, the National Gallery, located on Clare Street, welcomed over 750,000 visitors in 2016, boasting a 5pc increase.

It displays a mixture of Irish and European art, including pieces from renowned artists Caravaggio, Picasso and Irish-born Jack B Yeats.

The Irish Museum of Modern Art displayed a significant growth in visitors, jumping by 20pc to achieve more than 580,000 visits, making it the second most popular attraction.

Other free spaces that saw an influx of visitors were the National Botanic Gardens (583,539), Doneraile Wildlife Park (480,000) and the National Museum of Ireland (479,261).

CEO of Fáilte Ireland Paul Kelly said the growth of such attractions reflected a “record tourism year.” He encouraged the development of new facilities in more rural parts of the country, saying:

“Attractions are one of the key reasons why many overseas visitors choose Ireland as a destination – they create the variety of experiences that make for an enjoyable holiday and are the basis of visitor memories and moments to share that are critical to the growth of tourism in Ireland.

“Our future investment in this regard will be shaped to reap growth in lesser visited regions with great potential as well as investing in those experiences which can generate visitor traffic beyond the high season. This will help us to to generate revenue and jobs all around the country and all year round.”