Ross Castle is is located on the edge of Lough Leane, in Killarney National Park. It is considered a typical example of the stronghold of an Irish Chieftain during the Middle Ages. The date of its foundation is uncertain but it was probably built in the late 15th century by one of the O'Donoghue Ross chieftains.
8. Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery, County Sligo
Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery is one of the four major passage tomb cemeteries in Ireland. It is located at the centre of a prehistoric landscape on the Cúil Irra Peninsula in County Sligo in Ireland.
Around 30 megalithic tombs can be seen in Carrowmore today. The tombs (in their original state) were almost universally 'dolmen circles'; small dolmens each enclosed by a boulder ring of 12 to 15 meters.
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.
Full list of the free of charge sites included in the initiative (confirm participation with the individual sites before visiting):
Desmond Castle (French Prison)
Ilnacullin (Garinish Island)
Glebe House and Gallery
The Casino, Marino
Dublin Castle, State Apartments
Portumna Castle and Gardens
Patrick Pearse's Cottage (Teach an Phiarsaigh)
Derrynane House, National Historic Park
Ionad an Bhlascaoid Mhóir, The Blascaod Centre
Old Mellifont Abbey
Battle of the Boyne - Oldbridge Estate
Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre (Newgrange) Knowth Open Easter to Late October
Hill of Tara
Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery
Rock of Cashel
Roscrea Heritage (Castle and Damer House) and the Blackmills
John F Kennedy Arboretum
Glendalough Visitor Centre
Visit www.heritageireland.ie for more information.
Originally published in 2011.