If you are visiting Ireland for more than a few days you should almost certainly have a Heritage Card, which gives you unlimited free entrance to more than 75 heritage sites all over the country, some of which are among the most popular places to visit in Ireland. If you live in Ireland it’s an even better bargain – a whole family can have a year of unlimited entrance to all of these sites for just over €1 a week.
There are details and directions to many of the sites on the list below, some as part of an itinerary that includes other places in the same locality.
UPDATE: From July 5th until the end of 2011 all of these places can now be visited free of charge every Wednesday!
Until the end of 2011 there is free entrance to all historic buildings, monuments and other sites in Ireland that are in the care of the OPW.
The list includes well known places like Kilmainham Goal, Brú na Boinne and Dublin Castle, and heritage sites in every county in Ireland. Get out and enjoy!Read More
The house that once stood here is now gone, lost to fire in 1951, only the impressive entrance gates hinting at previous grandeur.
Thankfully the gardens survived. Designed by Edward Lutyens, and considered among his best gardens, they are surrounded by an earlier planned parkland.Read More
Connemara is a place of mountains, lakes and spectacular views famed for the quality of the light. It’s also often overrun with tourists which takes a little from its serenity.
However it is definitely an area worth exploring, and this itinerary moves you quickly through the really busy areas and suggests some lesser known detours.Read More
Archaeological excavations in Mayo are uncovering new insights into life in Stone Age Ireland, and what they are finding is having an international impact.
Far from being the uncivilised people we assume they were, the people who lived at this place were sophisticated farmers, had well developed tools and even traded internationally. It’s a true eye opener and a must see.Read More
One of the earliest and most important Norman castles in Ireland sits high on a hill overlooking the river Nore at the heart of the city that grew up around it.
There are impressive grounds and gardens surrounding it and many of the other buildings in the area were in one way or another linked to life in the castle over the centuries.Read More
Glendalough in Co Wicklow with its famous round tower was one of the most important Christian monastic settlements in Europe.
It is a mystical and beautiful place to visit and is located in the heart of the Wicklow National Park, one of the most scenic areas in Ireland and a magnet for hill walkers.Read More
Skellig Micheal off the Kerry coast is a World heritage site, site of an ancient Christian Monastery and an important wild bird sanctuary.
But it’s more than that, it’s an extraordinary place and although the climb to the top is arduous a visit to Skellig Michael is an experience you will never forget.Read More
Now uninhabited, Scattery was lived in from the time St Senen established a monastery there in 534 until the last Islanders left in 1978.
It fascinating history encompasses monsters, Vikings, the Spanish Armada, invasions that never happened and a small Island community who had a unique approach to death. Not many people go there – you should.Read More
An architectural gem, this folly was built as a garden pavilion for James Caulfield, the 1st Earl of Charlemont, a wealthy landowner with a huge interest in art.
The design is based on classical Greek architecture for which the young earl acquired a taste during visits to Italy and Greece while on his ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe. It is not now, and never was, a gambling casino!Read More