Heritage sites in Meath saw almost 700,000 visitors in 2023 - OPW report

Heritage sites in Co Meath received just under 700,000 vistors in 2023 according to a new report from The Office of Public Works (OPW).

Across the five sites in Meath a total of 692,399 visitors were recorded in 2023.

Brú na Boinne (incl Newgrange & Knowth) and Trim Castle were among the top ten ticketed admission sites in Ireland for 2023

Battle of the Boyne/Oldbridge Estate received the highest number of visitors at 358,247, its figure slightly down from 415,016 in 2022.

Brú na Boinne (incl Newgrange & Knowth) saw 114,934 visitors up from 109,439 in 2022

Hill of Tara Visitor Centre & Grounds recorded 183,048 visitors in 2023 up from 169,488 the previous year. Trim Castle had 113,591 visit its site up from 110,913 in 2022. Dowth saw 21,440 up from 19,852 the previous year.

Meanwhile Loughcrew welcomed 14,730 visitors in 2023, a slight increase from 14,286 in 2022.

The number of recorded visitors last year exceeded 15.3 million, up from 15 million in 2022.

The Office of Public Works is responsible for caring, maintaining and operating 780 important heritage sites.

The 2023 data highlights a continued trend in number of visitors to Historic Castles, Gardens and Monuments across the country. The numbers show the top heritage locations in each of two categories: Paid Visitor attractions and Free Access Sites. Iconic Irish heritage sites such as Kilmainham Gaol, The Rock of Cashel and Glendalough continue to play a pivotal role for both domestic and international tourism. The major parks, such as the Phoenix Park, St. Stephen’s Green and parklands around Doneraile Court have remained top of the list, continuing the trend of visitors utilising these recreational spaces.

In Dublin, Farmleigh Estate saw a 13% increase in visitors, while a number of regional sites have also seen an increase in their visitor volumes. Dún Aonghasa on Inis Mór- which was the winner of the European film location award last year, recorded an increase of 20%. The Céide Fields, Co Mayo, which received a €2.6m state investment in 2022 for its new immersive visitor centre experience recorded a 38% increase on the previous year. Ionad an Bhlascaoid – The Blasket Centre, Co Kerry saw a 58% increase in visitors in 2023 , while Clonmacnoise Co Offaly saw a 29% increase.

The data indicates a continued upward trend and visitor interest in Ireland's cultural legacy and underscores the importance of preserving such invaluable assets for future generations.

Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW, Patrick O’Donovan, T.D., said: “The 780 sites under the care of the Office of Public Works contribute to the local sense of place, the local economy and are great places for domestic and international tourists to enjoy. The 2023 visitor data clearly indicates that there is a strong interest in heritage tourism and that an increasing number of visitors regard Ireland’s heritage sites as great places to visit.”

The Minister added:

“We have fortunate to have such a rich and diverse collection of landmarks across the country. The continued investment by the State in our heritage portfolio- from ancient monuments to medieval castles- is so important for the safeguarding and preservation of our built heritage. It is wonderful to see the continued upward trend in visitor numbers to both the paid attractions and the recreational spaces which the public can access for free, all year round.