Thursday 22 August 2019

Top spots: Kilkenny Castle Parklands a hit with tourists

The sunny delights of the grounds at Kilkenny Castle drew many tourists last year. Picture: Pat Moore
The sunny delights of the grounds at Kilkenny Castle drew many tourists last year. Picture: Pat Moore

Aoife Walsh

Kilkenny Castle Parkland has topped the list of Ireland's free tourist attractions after it welcomed almost 800,000 visits last year.

It was the first time the attraction made the Fáilte Ireland top 10 list, as it only began logging visitor numbers in the middle of 2017 with a new counter system.

A total of 799,032 international and Irish tourists visited the parkland in 2018. The figure does not include local people who use the parkland for recreational reasons.

The attraction covers only the grounds of Kilkenny Castle, as visitors are charged an entrance fee for a tour of the castle itself.

The National Gallery of Ireland, which previously topped the list, was in second place with 775,491 visitors during 2018.

It was followed by Glendalough, which saw 732,824 visitors last year.

In 10th place was the Battle of the Boyne centre, another new addition to the list, with 355,608 visitors.

Meanwhile, when it comes to fee-paying attractions, the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin topped the list yet again - with 1.7 million visitors passing through its doors in 2018.

The Cliffs of Moher visitor experience was in second place with 1.5 million tourists, while Dublin Zoo came in third with 1.2 million visitors.

Commenting on the results, Orla Carroll, Fáilte Ireland's director of product development, said: "I think if you look down the list you'll see a commonality in the sense that they are all really good, immersive attractions.

"The idea being that the visitor is engaged and learning something about our culture and heritage.

"I suppose they're quite unique experiences to Ireland, so you don't find a Guinness Storehouse anywhere else, you don't find a Kilkenny Parklands or Kylemore Abbey, which are specific to Ireland.

"It offers a genuine Irish experience.

"We have changed it slightly this year in the sense of our definition of what an attraction is.

"What's important from a tourism perspective is visitors are international, or that they're not locals. So previously, sometimes, locals walking in the grounds were counted, so we've omitted that this year."

Fáilte Ireland recently announced a €150m plan to develop major new visitor attractions across the country.

Irish Independent

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