Botanical Gardens is nation’s top heritage site

Saving an activity for a rainy day has never been as important as it is this summer.

Tourism destinations are experiencing their annual seasonal influx, as the capital claimed the nation’s most- visited heritage site in 2011.

The Botanical Gardens topped the popularity list with more than 500,000 people visiting the Dublin site.

Farmleigh House just pipped Kilmainham Gaol for second place with 315,464 visitors last year.

Rounding up the top five were the Rock of Cashel in Co Tipperary and the Brú na Bóinne group of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth, and visitor centre in Co Meath.

Bridgeen Kelly, manager of Farmleigh House, said the house and gardens tick a lot of boxes for a day out.

“The Queen and President Obama’s visit to the house definitely had an effect on the increase of visitor figures. People want to come and see the place for themselves. Our opening hours can also account for the steep increase. We’ve opened the house and gardens to seven days a week and for an extra two hours each evening.”

Although still top of the list, visitor figures for the Botanical Gardens fell significantly last year while second place’s Farmleigh rose by over 45,000.

Paul Maher, curator of the gardens, attributes any fluctuations in visitors to the weather alone. All other heritage sites in the top five experienced an increase in visiting numbers.

The majority of the OPW’s sites have seen an increase in tourism figures on the first Wednesday of each month, the day the OPW scheme allows free entry into all its heritage sites.

Kinsale’s Charles Fort in Co Cork experienced a 30% increase in visitors on the first Wednesday of every month since the scheme was introduced in Jul 2010.

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