Heritage sites across Dublin will be free for children under 12 this summer

Heritage sites across Dublin will be free for children under 12 this summer

By Aura McMenamin

Exploring some of Dublin’s history with your family will be a lot easier this summer as a number of heritage sites across the city will be free to children under 12.

The initiative by the Office of Public Works (OPW) will allow access to a number of heritage buildings across Dublin.

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Iconic sites like the Kilmainham Gaol, Rathfarnham Castle, Pearse Museum and Dublin Castle will be open to under 12s for free.

The OPW already offers free entry for children under 6 years of age.

The Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, Kevin Moran said he was anxious to reinforce the message that a visit to a Heritage site can be a great family day out for all ages.

He said: “I’d like to spread the message to families that wouldn’t normally think of coming to a heritage site and encourage them to make a visit.  

“Admission fees at OPW sites are very reasonable and as the under 12s are now to go free it will make for a very attractive and reasonably-priced day out for the whole family.”

“I have set out to do this as one of my first acts as Minister for the OPW because I think there is a huge opportunity here to encourage our children to experience some of the best cultural and heritage sites in the country.”

Kilmainham Gaol is already a popular spot for school children and offers an in-depth history of Ireland’s penal system and restoration, including insight on the incarceration of the executed leaders of 1916 Rising. The tour of the prison includes an audio-visual show. Tours may be arranged for visitors with special needs by prior arrangement.

Rathfarnham Castle is a National Monument that dates back to the Elizabethan period. The castle opened for tours in 2015 and features centuries-old stained glass windows and gilded interiors. Recent excavations of the building revealed a hoard of 17th-century artefacts which are on display.

Pearse Museum in St Enda’s Park, Rathfarnham is where Rising leader Patrick Pearse lived and set up his Irish-language school, Scoil Éanna, between 1910-16.

Visitors can see the bright dormitories, art collections, chapels and studies of the early 20th-century house. The house has an audio-visual show called “This Man Kept a School” and a nature study featuring displays on Irish flora and fauna. There is access for visitors with disabilities to the ground floor and Nature Study Centre.

Dublin Castle is arguably one of the city’s most recognisable heritage sites. It was built in the 13th century and survived several turbulent periods in history and restorations.

After being the seat of English governance in Ireland for 700 years, Dublin Castle is now used for important state receptions and presidential inaugurations.

The OPW offers free access to all school-going children under their Free Schools Visits programme and according to the OPW, about 80,000 children availed of this during 2016.  

This programme is intended to support the educational curriculum and children can, with their parents/teachers, engage with many relevant aspects of their learning including art, history and social science at these historic and heritage locations throughout the country.

The Minister said: “We are already very active in the OPW in terms of facilitating children through the Free Schools Visits programme.

“I want to extend that positive approach throughout the summer holiday period and beyond so that kids will learn to enjoy coming to these sites and see them as fun places to visit.”

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