Visitor numbers up at four Kilkenny heritage sites

Visitor numbers at Dunmore Cave, Jerpoint Abbey, Kilkenny Castle and St Mary’s Church, Gowran all increased in 2011, according to official figures.

Visitor numbers at Dunmore Cave, Jerpoint Abbey, Kilkenny Castle and St Mary’s Church, Gowran all increased in 2011, according to official figures.

Despite a drop in numbers from 28,173 in 2009 to 25,939 the following year, Dunmore Cave saw its visitor numbers rise to 30,024 last year. A similar trend occurred at Jerpoint Abbey, whose visitor numbers of 23,885 people in 2009 dropped to 20,555 in 2010 but rose to 21,534 last year.

Kilkenny Castle’s visitor numbers saw a steady climb from 170,865 people in 2009, up to 192,777 the following year and a further increase to 206,277 in 2011.

St Mary’s Church, Gowran increased its visitors from 2,592 in 2009 and 2,544 people in 2010, up to 2,987 visitors last year.

The figures were provided by Brian Hayes, minister for public expenditure and reform with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, in a written answer to a Dáil question about total annual visitors to OPW heritage sites.

In fact, the numbers could be slightly higher.

“These totals do not include visitor statistics for sites such where the public can freely access elements of the site without the visitor centre,” Minister Howlin wrote.

“These visitor statistics relate to times when sites are manned by OPW Guide Services (March/ April to September, at many sites). The total number of visitors is, therefore, understated, as a lot of tourists visit a number of these sites in the off season.”