Ireland Vacation – Buying an OPW Heritage Pass

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It is rare for my family to visit Ireland and not buy an OPW (Office of Public Works) Heritage Card.  The €90 family fee (2017) allows access into dozens of OPW Heritage Sites across Ireland.

Trim Castle on a Sunny Day; County Meath, Ireland. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation |
Trim Castle in County Meath is the largest Norman Castle in Ireland. Nearly razed in the mid-20th century, a group of conservationists was able to save the massive structure. Now under the care of the Office of Public Works (OPW), the castle is available for guided tours.
But don't just go for the castle! The surrounding grounds and gorgeous riverwalk are free to explore, making this visit a full morning or afternoon adventure!

What Sites Can I Visit with the OPW Heritage Card?

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 Gaol, 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.

The Monastic City of Glendalough. Ireland vacation tips. Travel in Ireland.
One of the best views of Glendalough in County Wicklow is found along the pathway beyond the visitor centre. From this vantage point on the bridge you can view the stunning round tower and St. Kevin's Kitchen – but none of the tourists in the monastic city!

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 €13 (some are more, some are less).  If you plan to visit 7 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. Ireland travel tips | OPW Heritage site | Ireland vacation
Taken walking up to the Rock of Cashel

Explore Ireland at your own pace with an unbeatable price on a rental car from Irish Car Rentals

Irish Car Rentals - unbeatable quote on car rental in Ireland

Where Can I Get an OPW Heritage Card?

Use the OPW Heritage Card to gain admission to all fee paying Office of Public Works sites in Ireland during your vacation. Ireland travel tips | save money in Ireland |
Save me for your Ireland vacation planning!

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 under 12 are admitted free to OPW sites.
  • Adult passes are €40; kids passes (ages 12-18) are €10; adults over 60 are €30 (2017 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 2017, 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. 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.

      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.

    […] a mix of popular and historic sites not covered by the OPW Heritage Pass, Heritage Island has three discount options; one will fit your needs perfectly.  Each of the […]

    […] Kilkenny Castle is an OPW Heritage Site. You can purchase an OPW card here for use at other OPW sites. OPW cards are good for one year from […]

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