Visitors shun free attractions and pay instead
PAID-for attractions outstripped free venues in the "most visited" league table for last year.
New figures from Failte Ireland reveal that most of the country's top attractions enjoyed a boost in visitor numbers during 2011.
And surprisingly it was paid attractions which fared best, while some of the best-known free venues suffered significant dips in visitor numbers.
The Guinness Storehouse and Dublin Zoo both reached the magic million mark in 2011.
Queen Elizabeth's visit may also have helped the Rock of Cashel, which saw a 14pc jump to 233,038 visitors.
The National Aquatic Centre in Dublin's Blanchardstown and the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience in Clare each attracted over 800,000 visitors, well up on 2010.
The National Gallery in Merrion Square remains the most popular free attraction but saw 112,000 fewer visitors than in 2010.
The Botanic Gardens, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and Hugh Lane Gallery also attracted fewer visits.
Failte Ireland said the general increase in visits "can be attributed to the positive movement in visitor numbers" as well as development work to improve what tourists can see and do.
Foreign tourist numbers increased by 8pc in 2011 after falling for three years in a row.
Meanwhile, Irish golf courses got the nod of approval from the prestigious US 'Golf Digest'.
Royal County Down beat off competition from the likes of St Andrew's in Scotland to be named the best course outside the US.
Portmarnock, Royal Portrush, Waterville, Ballybunion, Lahinch, Tralee and the European Club all made it to the top 100.