Ireland Vacation – Buying an OPW Heritage Pass

It is rare for my family to visit Ireland and not buy an OPW (Office of Public Works) Heritage Card.  The €55 fee (appx $80) allows my family access into dozens of OPW Heritage Sites across Ireland.

At Ross Castle near Killarney, Ireland

At Ross Castle near Killarney

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 and Bunratty Castle are Shannon Heritage sites; 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; Newgrange, Knowth, Glendalough Visitor Center and the Hill of Tara in the Midlands and East of Ireland; Dublin Castle, Kilmainham Goal and Ashtown Castle in Dublin; Sligo Abbey and Glenveagh National Park in North-West Ireland; and Adare Castle, Ardfert Cathedral and Ennis Friary in the Shannon Region.

Round Tower at Glendalough, Ireland

Glendalough's Round Tower

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 Dublin Pass 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.

Rock of Cashel

Taken walking up to the Rock of Cashel

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 €21; kids passes (ages 6-18) are €8; adults over 60 are €16
  • 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 2012, 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



  1. Mona says

    With the Heritage Card, would we have to wait in the same line with other people who do not have one? It would be a nice benefit if the card holders did not have to wait in a long line.

    • Jody Halsted says

      I’ve not had to wait in a line at a Heritage Site yet… You don’t get to skip the queue with a Heritage Card, but then again, there are no queues. You show the card and enter.

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