As you might imagine, Ireland has a ton of history. Much of this history has been preserved for our enjoyment today. So much in fact, you’d need weeks to see all the historical sites Ireland has to offer. These include castles, abbeys, gardens, and more. Ireland’s Office of Public Works (OPW) has established a program that is dedicated to the protection and conservation of many of these historical sites. In fact, there are currently 97 different sites to enjoy! Download the brochure here, and you can easily browse through all 97 different historical sites across the country. Each site listed includes a brief description of the site, contact info, hours of operation, facility info, and admission fees (many are FREE!) Using this brochure, you can easily pick and choose which sites you may be interested in seeing to help plan your trip.
What is the Heritage Card?
If you plan on seeing multiple sites, you have the option to purchase a Heritage Card which can save you money. A lot of money actually! You can do the math yourself to see if purchasing the card is worth it for you, but if you’re planning on spending a week plus in Ireland, I definitely recommend it! The card is good for one year from the date of purchase in case you plan to come back to Ireland within a year. This is similar to the US’s National Park Pass which offers the same length of validity.
What does it cost?
A family is considered as 2 adults and a reasonable amount of children. A family of 5 like mine will have no problem, however if you plan to string along 10 kids, you might want to check with the OPW first.
Where can I purchase a card?
The easiest way to purchase a Heritage Card is on site, at one of the many sites which sells it. A list of those sites can be found here. Many of these sites DO NOT accept credit cards. I highlighted the ones that do. Also, beware of sites that try and sell you this card, as they usually charge a premium, and there is no need to purchase the card in advance.
Does this card cover ALL of Ireland’s historical sites?
The short answer to this is NO. In fact there are several which it does not. Many of the sites Ireland is famous for internationally are not affiliated with this program and establish their own rates. Some of these are Blarney Castle (home to Ireland’s famous Blarney stone), and The Cliffs of Moher.
Keep in mind that while these sites are internationally recognized, that doesn’t make them better. While these sites are indeed enjoyable, my family and I actually enjoyed many of the “heritage” sites better. In fact, a couple of our favorite locations were free sites not accessible by large tour buses! It’s really all relative to your interest level and what you feel you will personally enjoy.