TWO Cork beauty spots have made it onto the list of the most visited tourist attractions in the country last year.
Blarney Castle has maintained its status as one of the most popular fee-paying tourist sites, coming in 10th place on Bord Fáilte’s’s list with 460,000 visitors last year.
Councillor Ken O’Flynn recently praised Blarney & District Chamber of Commerce for keeping the tourist office open for six years after funding was cut by the tourist board.
However, the office closed last year after rent and running costs could no longer be covered.
Blarney recently became part of Cork city under a boundary extension and Councillor O’Flynn believes the city council needs to devise a plan to promote Blarney’s attractions and places to stay as a whole visitor experience. He has urged that a permanent tourist office is established to achieve this.
Doneraile Park came in seventh in the top 10 free to enter tourist attractions with 490,000 people coming through its gates last year.
In September of last year, the Office of Public Works approved €900,000 in funding for the refurbishment of the ground floor of Doneraile House to include the development of a new exhibition area at the house, which dates to the late 1600s and sits on the walled Doneraile Wildlife Park.
The refurbished attraction features ornamental gardens and avenues of mature gardens with chances to spot local wildlife, a playground for children, a tea room in the courtyard and free guided tours and parking.
Guinness Storehouse topped the list of fee-paying attractions with over 1.7 million visitors last year. The Cliffs of Moher closely followed in second place with 1.5 million - an increase of over 3% on the previous year and Dublin Zoo took third place with over 1.2million visitors in the same category.
Kilkenny Castle Parklands was the most visited free tourist attraction with 799,032 people.
Fáilte Ireland’s director of product development Orla Carroll said: “While 2018 was a positive year for most of Ireland’s top attractions, there are many challenges ahead for the tourism industry. As the national tourism development authority, Fáilte Ireland’s role is to support the development of a ‘world-class’ tourism sector.
“Our work with attractions in helping them grow their visitor numbers through training and funding is a significant part of what we do across the country. Over the course of 2018 alone, Fáilte Ireland approved grant funding of more than €31million for 46 projects.”