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'Unique to Ireland' - Kilkenny Castle Parklands named top free tourist attraction as Guinness Storehouse remains top overall

 

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Kilkenny Castle has come first in a list of attractions. Photo: Vicky’s Photography Kilkenny

Kilkenny Castle has come first in a list of attractions. Photo: Vicky’s Photography Kilkenny

Kilkenny Castle has come first in a list of attractions. Photo: Vicky’s Photography Kilkenny

Kilkenny Castle Parklands has been revealed as Ireland's top free tourist attraction, with the Guinness Storehouse remaining at the top of the tree overall.

Some 799,032 people poured through the gates of the popular Kilkenny Castle Parkland last year, meaning it has claimed the number one spot on Fáilte Ireland's top ten ‘free to enter’ attractions for 2018 list.

The Kilkenny attraction is a new entry on the list, which Fáilte Ireland said is "largely due to the fact we put in counters with OPW in 2017 so we have a full year's count in 2018."

The castle, which is over 800 years old, allows visitors to capture the nineteenth-century lifestyle of the Butlers of Ormonde, an Anglo-Norman family who bought the castle during the first Norman invasion.

 

Coming second was the National Gallery of Ireland, which saw 775,491 people visit during 2018. 732,824 tourists set off for Glendalough last year, making it third on the list.

In tenth place is the Battle of the Boyne visitor centre in Meath, another new addition to the list, with 355,608 visitors.

As for the top paid attractions, the Guinness Storehouse has been named the most popular as it attracted 1,736,156 visitors over the year.

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The Guinness Storehouse at St James's Gate in Dublin

The Guinness Storehouse at St James's Gate in Dublin

The Guinness Storehouse at St James's Gate in Dublin

 

The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience follows in second with 1,580,000 tourists taking a trip there, while 1,230,145 visited Dublin Zoo making it third on the list.  

Failte Ireland Director of Product Development, Orla Carroll 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.

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Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

 

"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, Kylemore Abbey is very more specific to Ireland.

"It offers a genuine Irish experience in an immersive way," she added.

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Amur tigers at Dublin Zoo (Aisleen Greene/PA Wire)

Amur tigers at Dublin Zoo (Aisleen Greene/PA Wire)

Amur tigers at Dublin Zoo (Aisleen Greene/PA Wire)

"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 from 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 its €150m Platforms for Growth plan, which is designed to develop major new visitor attractions across the country.

"In May this year, we announced funding of up to a total €150m through our new Platforms for Growth initiative. The first “Platform” is “Iconic Immersive Attractions” with individual grants available for large-scale visitor attractions of €2.5million upwards.

"This is Fáilte Ireland’s largest programme of investment yet and with continued investment like this, and through our work with partners across the country, we look forward to seeing new locations feature on the top attractions survey list," Carroll said.

The full list of paid top attractions include:

  1. Guinness Storehouse (1,736,156 visitors)
  2. Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience (1,580,000),
  3. Dublin Zoo (1,230,145)
  4. Book of Kells (1,057,642)
  5. Tayto Park (700,000).

The top free tourist attractions are:

  1. Kilkenny Castle Parklands (799,032)
  2. The National Gallery of Ireland (775,491)
  3. Glendalough Site (732,824)
  4. National Botanic Gardens (655,609)
  5. Castletown House Parklands (642,278)

 

Online Editors