Failte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, has revealed the 2011 list of fee-paying and free attractions around Ireland.
Dublin Zoo, who have welcomed many new arrivals this year including giraffes and gorillas, came in at first place in the fee-paying category while the National Gallery of Ireland maintained its dominance in the free attractions category.
The authority said that although 2010 was the most difficult year in tourism in decades the popularity of the attractions remained high.
1. Dublin Zoo
Failte Ireland reported that its numbers grew by almost seven percent in 2010 to 960,000.
The Zoo opened in 1813. It is the largest zoo in Ireland covering 24 hectares (59 acres) of Phoenix Park.
This May the zoo welcomed 12 new arrivals including a litter of piglets in the “Family Farm”, a blackbuck calf, a Sulawesi-crested macaque. Also in the last year the zoo welcomed a new giraffe and gorilla.
2. Guinness Storehouse
The Guinness Storehouse, at St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin, has welcomed over 4 million visitors in the last decade. The Storehouse introduces the beer's four ingredients, water, barley, hops and yeast, as well as the brewery's founder, Arthur Guinness.
Other floors feature the history of Guinness advertising and an interactive exhibit that encourages responsible drinking. In 2006, a new wing opened incorporating a live installation of the present day brewing process.
The seventh floor houses the Gravity Bar where visitors may claim a complimentary pint of Guinness and enjoy the 360° views over Dublin City.
3. National Aquatic Centre
National Aquatic Centre is a water-sports facility near the village of Blanchardstown Dublin. The NAC was built to be "the home of Irish swimming", with modern facilities such as a 50m competition pool (one of only three in Ireland), diving pool with movable floor, and leisure centre — it is Ireland's largest indoor water leisure facility.
4. Cliffs of Moher
The most famous and breathtaking parts of Ireland’s craggy west coastline are the Cliffs of Moher, which feature some of the most breathtaking views on the entire island.
The Cliffs stretch for almost five miles and rise up to 702-feet over the waters of the Atlantic ocean. The amazing view from the Cliffs includes the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, The Twelve Pins and the Maum Turk Mountains.
The landscape and seascape of the Cliffs of Moher have, for centuries, welcomed a multitude of visitors; close to one million people per year now travel to this iconic location.
5. The Book of Kells
The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. It was created by Celtic monks 800 AD or slightly earlier. It is a masterwork of Western calligraphy and is widely regarded as Ireland's finest national treasure.
It is on permanent display at the Trinity College Library, Dublin. The library usually displays two of the current four volumes at a time, one showing a major illustration and the other showing typical text pages.
1. The National Gallery of Ireland
National Gallery of Ireland continued its dominance as the favored free attraction, recording more than 736,000 visitors last year.
Although it’s not the Louvre, the National Gallery of Ireland does have its charms and when visiting Dublin art lovers should make some time for a leisurely stroll. Situated at Merrion Square near the home and birthplace of Oscar Wilde and close to the National Museum in Kildare Street it is not too out of the way. And the small but exquisite collection of renowned masterpieces, including an only recently discovered Caravaggio, will make the visit definitely worth your while.