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Ross Castle, County Kerry, open to the public for free Photo by: Google Images

Ireland’s top ten free tourist attractions - PHOTOS

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Ross Castle, County Kerry, open to the public for free Photo by: Google Images

9. John F Kennedy Arboretum, County Wexford

Dedicated to the memory of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States from 1960 to 1963, the Arboretum is a plant collection of international standing. It covers 252 hectares (623 acres) on the southern slopes and summit of Slievecoiltia and contains 4,500 types of trees and shrubs from all temperate regions of the world, planted in botanical sequence.

10. Desmond Castle, County Cork

The castle was built as the Customs House for Kinsale about the year 1500 by Maurice FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Desmond. It was used as a Customs House until 1641 when it was converted into a naval prison, following the construction of a new Customs House. The prisoners kept in the Castle were in the main French and Spanish, and the building became known locally as the "French Prison" as a result.

In January 1747, a fire broke out, killing 54 of the prisoners. In 1791, the castle was donated by James Kearney MP to the town of Kinsale, and it was subsequently used as a town gaol till 1846, and during the Irish Famine as a workhouse.

Admission to OPW managed heritage sites will be free on the first Wednesday of every month in 2011, beginning this month.

PHOTOS - Ireland’s top ten free heritage sites photo gallery

Full list of the free of charge sites included in the new initiative:

Cork
Barryscourt Castle
Desmond Castle (French Prison)
Ilnacullin (Garinish Island)
Donegal
Donegal Castle
Glebe House and Gallery
Dublin
The Casino, Marino
Dublin Castle, State Apartments
Kilmainham Gaol
Galway
Athenry Castle
Aughnanure Castle
Dún Aonghasa
Portumna Castle and Gardens
Patrick Pearse's Cottage (Teach an Phiarsaigh)
Kerry
Ardfert Cathedral
Derrynane House, National Historic Park
Ionad an Bhlascaoid Mhóir, The Blascaod Centre
Ross Castle
Kildare
Castletown
Kilkenny
Dunmore Cave
Jerpoint Abbey
Kilkenny Castle
Laois
Emo Court
Leitrim
Parke's Castle
Louth
Old Mellifont Abbey
Mayo
Céide Fields
Meath
Battle of the Boyne - Oldbridge Estate
Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre (Newgrange) Knowth Open Easter to Late October
Hill of Tara
Trim Castle
Offaly
Clonmacnoise
Sligo
Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery
Sligo Abbey
Tipperary
Cahir Castle
Rock of Cashel
Roscrea Heritage (Castle and Damer House) and the Blackmills
Swiss Cottage
Waterford
Reginald's Tower
Wexford
John F Kennedy Arboretum
Tintern Abbey
Wicklow
Glendalough Visitor Centre

Visit www.heritageireland.ie for more information.

PHOTOS - Ireland’s top ten free heritage sites photo gallery

Originally published in 2011.

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