It is rare for my family to visit Ireland and not buy an OPW (Office of Public Works) Heritage Card. The €60 family fee (2015) allows access into dozens of OPW Heritage Sites across Ireland.
What Sites Can I Visit with the OPW Heritage Card?
Truthfully it is a shorter list to ask what sites you can’t visit with an OPW Heritage Card. First, the OPW card does not apply to any sites in Northern Ireland (it is part of the UK). The Cliffs of Moher are an independent attraction and Bunratty Castle is managed by Shannon Heritage; a dual pass for these can be purchased online.
Some of the well known sites that are part of the OPW include Killarney National Park, Muckross House and Gardens, (Muckross Traditional Farms are not included in the OPW pass) and Ross Castle in the South-West of Ireland; the Rock of Cashel, Jerpoint Abbey, Kilkenny Castle and Cahir Castle in South-East Ireland; Trim Castle, Clonmacnoise, Glendalough Visitor Center and the Hill of Tara in the Midlands and East of Ireland; Dublin Castle, Kilmainham Goal, Dublin Castle, and Iveagh Gardens in Dublin; Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery, Donegal Castle, and Glenveagh National Park in North-West Ireland; and Adare Castle, Ardfert Cathedral and Ennis Friary in the Shannon Region.
Should I Buy an OPW Heritage Card?
That really depends on how many sites you plan to visit. If most of your time will be spent around Dublin you may want to look into a as it includes many of the OPW sites and other Dublin attractions. If you plan to drive through Ireland, stopping at whatever site catches your fancy, an OPW pass will come in handy. The average OPW site has a family rate €11.25 (some are more, some are less). If you plan to visit 5 OPW sites the card is worth the purchase price. During a one week visit a family can easily visit 6-8 sites without feeling rushed or overwhelmed.
Where Can I Get an OPW Heritage Card?
While you can order your OPW Heritage Card online and have it shipped to your door, it is much easier to purchase your cards at the first OPW Heritage Site you visit.
Handy tips for buying the OPW Heritage Card:
- Plan to pay for the card in cash as only a few of the larger OPW sites have credit card facilities.
- Children 6 and under are admitted free to OPW sites.
- Adult passes are €25; kids passes (ages 6-18) are €10; adults over 60 are €20 (2015 pricing)
- The pass allows free admission to OPW sites. Some sites may have parking facilities handled by outside providers; additional fees may apply.
- You can also buy OPW Heritage Cards at the Dublin Tourism Office on Suffolk St and tourism offices in the Dublin airport, Shannon airport, Limerick, Ennis and Adare.
Free Admission to OPW Heritage Sites
From the Office of Public Works:
The Office of Public Works is pleased to announce that on the first Wednesday of every month in 2015, all OPW managed Heritage Sites will continue to offer FREE ADMISSION to individuals wishing to visit these sites for the duration of their season! A full list of participating sites is given at heritageireland.com