Lonely Planet Writer

School's out and children under 12 are set to go free into Irish heritage sites this summer

Summer is here, school is out and keeping the children occupied and entertained can be an expensive process. If you’re in Ireland during the holidays, help is at hand as children under 12 will be admitted free to all heritage sites managed by the Office of Public Works Heritage Service. To sweeten the news further, children under 19 can go free on all public transport services covered by the Leap Card from today until 16 July.

National Botanic Gardens. Image: Brian Morrison/Tourism Ireland
National Botanic Gardens. Image: Brian Morrison/Tourism Ireland

The heritage sites include Skellig Michael, where scenes from Star Wars were filmed, Trim Castle, where the battle scenes from Braveheart were shot, and Kilmainham Gaol, which featured in Michael Collins, In the Name of the Father and The Wind that Shakes the Barley. “We have some wonderful places to visit like Clonmacnoise, Kilkenny Castle, Newgrange and the Rock of Cashel,” said Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran. “I want every child to have an opportunity to visit them with their families during the summer holidays and up to the end of the year.”

The Rock of Cashel. Image: Brian Morrison/Tourism Ireland
The Rock of Cashel. Image: Brian Morrison/Tourism Ireland

The OPW currently operates 70 sites, and while 26 of these are open all year round, the remainder are seasonal sites. Of the total, 47 sites are paid entry. However, admission is free to people of all ages on the first Wednesday of every month. The OPW currently offers free entry for children under six years of age, and the average charge for children is approximately €3 per head. Older children between the ages of 12 and 17 and students will still be charged at this rate.

Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle. Image: Rob Durston Photography/Tourism Ireland
Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle. Image: Rob Durston Photography/Tourism Ireland

The minister said he was anxious to reinforce the message that a visit to a heritage site can be a great family day out for all ages. “Admission fees at OPW sites are very reasonable and as the under 12s are now to go free, it will make for a very attractive and reasonably-priced day out for the whole family,” he said.

Newgrange. Image: Caspar Diederik/Tourism Ireland
Children under 12 can enter Newgrange free this summer. Image: Caspar Diederik/Tourism Ireland

More information on the OPW initiative is available here. In addition, information on the Leap Card ‘Kids Go Free’ travel promotion is available here.