A rich and varied past steeped in conflict, mystery and mythology awaits you at these historic places in Ireland which provide free entry to all.
Let’s face it, travelling can be expensive, but travelling on a budget doesn’t have to mean missing out on culture! While the majority of Ireland’s heritage sites are relatively cheap to visit, these costs can start to pile up, particularly if you’re a student.
Luckily, there is a host of historic places in Ireland that won’t cost you a single penny to visit, in this article we’re counting down ten of our personal favourites.
10. Newmills Corn and Flax Mills, Co. Donegal – a working mill steeped in history
Newmills Corn and Flax Mills is a rare example of Ireland’s industrial heritage. The site is believed to have been active for the past 400 years and tracks many major historical developments, and you can see the water wheel still in action!
Address: Churchill Road, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, Ireland
9. Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre, Co. Longford – an iron age roadway across treacherous terrain
The Corlea Trackway is a wooden roadway dating to between 148-147 BC, which was rediscovered in the late 20th century.
The roadway survived thanks to the preservative qualities of Ireland’s native bog lands, and a section of this can be seen in the museum, making it one of the best historic places in Ireland.
Address: 2 Cartron Rd, Cloonbreany, Keenagh, Co. Longford, N39 XT18, Ireland
8. Dromore Woods, Co. Clare – a forest filled with history
Dromore Wood is a forest park steeped in both natural and built heritage. As well being home to red squirrels, pine martens and bats, among other species, the park also boasts the lakeside O’Brien Castle, which dates back to the 1600s, as well as the ruins of another castle, a church and two ring forts.
Address: Dromore Woods, Co. Clare, Ireland
7. Kells Priory, Co. Kilkenny – one of Ireland’s largest monastic sites
Kells Priory in County Kilkenny is one of our largest and best-preserved medieval sites. The expansive walled monastery is set amidst rolling hills and dates back to Norman times. Visitors may pay a donation to help preserve the site.
Address: Kellsborough, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
5. Fore Abbey, Co. Westmeath – a medieval monastery with supernatural connections
Fore Abbey, which was once home to a hermit or “anchorite”, is one of the most folklore-rich locations on our list.
The “seven wonders of Fore” include a holy well with water that won’t boil, an uphill flowing stream and a stone believed to have been raised by the prayers of St. Fechim.
Address: Collinstown, Co. Westmeath, Ireland
6. Áras an Uachtaráin, Co. Dublin – the Irish president’s official residence
Initially built in 1751 and expanded over the intervening centuries, the official residence of the Irish head of state since 1938 is a fascinating place to visit.
Free tickets can be obtained on a first come first serve basis from the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre on Saturdays, making it without a doubt one of the best historic places in Ireland that you can visit for free.
Address: Phoenix Park, Northside, Dublin, D08 E1W3, Ireland
4. Nenagh Castle, Co. Tipperary – climb Ireland’s finest cylindrical keep
Built in circa 1200, Nenagh Castle is a rare example in Ireland of an in-tact cylindrical keep. The 100ft tower casts a distinctly fairy-tale silhouette and can be scaled to the top by guided tour, affording spectacular views.
Address: O’Rahilly, O’Rahilly St, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, Ireland
3. Coole Park, Co. Galway – one of the best historic places in Ireland free to visit
While little of the house still remains, visitors can still follow in the footsteps of Synge, Shaw, O’Casey and Yeats, and the many other literary guests of the famed folklorist, playwright and Abbey Theatre co-founder, Augusta Gregory.
The woods were the inspiration for many of Yeats’ most famous poems including the “Wild Swans of Coole,” making it one of the most famous historic places in Ireland.
Address: Coole Demesne, Co. Galway, Ireland
2. The Seven Churches and Clochan na Carraige, Co. Galway – uncover early Christian life on Inis Mór
The Seven Churches is one of the most famous sites on the Aran Islands. While today the island monastery might seem remote, the site includes the graves of students who travelled all the way from Rome, indicating the international reputation Ireland had in the early middle ages as a centre of learning.
Only a short walk or cycle away, the nearby Clochan na Carraige, one of the best examples of a dry-stone beehive hut, is also worth a visit.
Address: Sruthán, Onaght, Aran Islands, Co. Galway, Ireland
1. Loughcrew Cairns, Co. Meath – a stone age burial site
Known traditionally as the Hill of the Witch, Loughcrew Cairns are one of the most ancient historic places to visit in Ireland.
The Neolithic tombs or “cairns” date back to around 3000 BC, but unlike the more famous Newgrange, are completely free to visit. The site contains a wealth of carvings and visitors can enter inside one of the cairns.
Address: Loughcrew Cairns, Corstown, Oldcastle, Co. Meath, Ireland