Four Visitor Attractions in Cork Among the Best in Ireland

13 June 2018
By Elaine Murphy
Cork’s Doneraile Wildlife Park, Fota Wildlife Park, Blarney Castle & Gardens and Crawford Art Gallery Among Ireland’s Top Visitor Attractions

Fáilte Ireland has today published its annual list of Ireland’s most popular visitor attractions, which shows that almost all our key attractions – many of which have received Fáilte Ireland funding and support in the past – enjoyed another bumper year for visitors in 2017.

Topping the list of ‘free to enter’ attractions, the National Gallery of Ireland surpassed the 1m visitor mark for the first time, experiencing an impressive 41% growth. This was particularly helped by the reopening of its permanent collection halfway through the year, as well as hosting two major exhibitions of Caravaggio and Vermeer.

The most popular fee-charging attraction remains the Guinness Storehouse, with a total of 1,711,281 visitors through its doors, up 64,000 on the previous year. The Cliffs of Moher and Dublin Zoo came in second and third place in the same category. In Cork, Fota Wildlife Park and Blarney Castle & Gardens came 11th and 12th in this category with 455,559 and 450,0000 visitors respectively.

Overall, the top five fee-charging attractions during 2017 were:

1. Guinness Storehouse – 1,711,281 (+4%)
2. Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience – 1,527,000 (+7%)
3. Dublin Zoo – 1,264,300 (+10%)
4. National Aquatic Centre – 1,099,756 (+6%)
5. Book of Kells – 983,410 (+10%)

Amongst Ireland’s ‘free to enter’ attractions, the National Gallery of Ireland had a total of 1,065,929 visitors and was followed by Castletown House Parklands in second place and Glendalough Site in third. In this category, Cork’s Doneraile Wildlife Park(480,000) and Crawford Art Gallery (188,814) came 7th and 18th respectively.

Ireland’s top ‘free to enter’ attractions for 2017 were:

1. The National Gallery of Ireland – 1,065,929 (+41%)
2. Castletown House Parklands – 666,541
3. Glendalough Site – 639,826
4. National Botanic Gardens – 569,652 (-2%)
5. DLR LexIcon (Dun Laoighaire Rathdown) – 525,708 (+12%)

Fáilte Ireland works with attractions across the country, helping to grow their visitor numbers and improve visitor experiences through a range of funding schemes and training programmes.

New Cheetah cubs were born in Fota last summer. The Wildlife Park is considered to one of Cork’s top tourist attractions. Picture Darragh Kane

Welcoming another record year for visitors, Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Product Development, Orla Carroll emphasised:

“Fáilte Ireland invests in new and compelling attractions throughout the country because we know that they bring visitors from around the world to our shores. Over the course of 2017 alone, Fáilte Ireland provided capital funding of over €22m for a variety of tourism projects, helping to drive growth in every part of Ireland for the coming years. With continued investment like this, and through our work with partners across the country, we look forward to ongoing growth for tourism and to seeing new sites feature on the top attractions list.”

Fáilte Ireland publishes an annual list of top visitor attractions to give attractions insight into how they are performing alongside their counterparts ( . It complements ‘What makes a Great Visitor Attraction’, which allows attractions to look to each other’s successes in order to find ways to improve their own visitor experience. Fáilte Ireland recently hosted the ‘WOW Visitors: Win Business, Customer Experience Summit’ in the Guinness Storehouse to share best practice and insights with tourism attractions and businesses from across the country.

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