Days Out to Enjoy Ireland’s Treasures and Heritage on Virgin Media’s Elaine Show

Hurray! Its 29th June and the country is opening up and we can look forward to soaking up all that Ireland has to offer. We have a rich and wonderful history and heritage in this country and this is the perfect year to explore it. My first piece of advice is go to two sites – the and  Don’t go by google box on right when you look up a heritage site or parklands because some will say all sites are temporarily closed- go directly to the website to make sure that information is up to date and correct.

Look out for changes to the road map it’s updated daily and while the two meter rule is still in place today when we change to the one meter rule it is going to have a huge effect on early openings – what gardens have allocated times for cocooned or the elderly.

Most of the OPW sites have a Facebook Page-Take Kilkenny castle as an example of a heritage site that is open already for business – Social media is a great way for getting immediate information look at insta and twitter accounts because these are Managed by staff on the site.

Kilkenny Castle

Few buildings in Ireland can boast a longer history of continuous occupation than Kilkenny Castle. Founded soon after the Norman conquest of Ireland, the Castle has been rebuilt, extended and adapted to suit changing circumstances and uses over a period of 800 years.

Today, Kilkenny Castle is open to visitors all year round and is largely a Victorian remodelling of the thirteenth century defensive Castle. Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors come to see this grand country house and walk through its fifty acres of rolling parkland with mature trees and an abundance of wildlife. Other features include a formal terraced rose garden, woodlands and a man-made lake, which were added in the nineteenth century. There is also a tearoom, playground and several orienteering trails for visitors to enjoy.

Please note that free admission on the first Wednesday of each month is not applicable at Kilkenny Castle.


Guided tours are being organised from outside the castle in the grounds and the Rose Garden is held especially for cocooners daily from 10-1 and of course they cater for all the family with the playground too.

Adult €8
Senior (60+) €6
Child (12-17)/Student (with valid ID card) €4
Family €20
Children Under 12 Free


The national Botanic Gardens are running well and they have an innovative one way system to help traffic move along taking into account social distancing – the glass houses and cafes aren’t open but if you go to the facebook page and check the OPW sites you can see changes as they are being implemented. If too many people visit they use a one in one out process to control crowds.

The National Botanic Gardens is noted for its fine plant collections holding over 15,000 plant species and cultivars from a variety of habitats from all around the world. Famous for its exquisitely restored and planted glasshouses, notably the Turner Curvilinear Range and the Great Palm House, both recipients of the Europa Nostra award for excellence in conservation architecture. Visitors can enjoy such features as the Herbaceous borders, rose garden, the alpine yard, the pond area, rock garden and arboretum. Conservation plays an important role in the life of the botanic garden and Glasnevin is home to over 300 endangered plant species from around the world including 6 species, which are already extinct in the wild.

Location: 3.5 km north from centre of Dublin, Botanic Road, Glasnevin.

They are open daily from 10-5pm and there is no charge – it’s a lovely day out for all the family.


The Garden of Ireland has a host of wonderful walks and gardens making it one of the best places to enjoy a day out. To find out all that is on offer see the visit wicklow website

Russborough House was built between 1741-1750 and is regarded as one of Ireland’s most beautiful houses. It has magnificent views of the Blessington Lakes and Wicklow Mountains .

In 1978 Sir Alfred Beit opened the house for guided tours and there have been over 1 million visitors since. The house which is beautifully maintained and lavishly furnished contains fine furniture, tapestries, carpets, porcelain, silver and much of the Beit collection of paintings. It also has beautiful ceilings, plaster work and a fine mahogany staircase.

From Easter 2011 there is a new extensive self guided exhibition which includes interactive touch screens, audio listening handsets, cinema projections and films in the original cinema. Special features are wonderful 3D photographs and 2D films from the 1920s and 1930s taken by Sir Alfred Beit on his world travels. A selection of his extensive vinyl record and sheet music collections from the 1920s are also on display. Part of the exhibition is devoted to the 6 Earls of Milltown who each lived at Russborough plus local history stories about Poulaphouca Reservoir and the Blessington Tramway.

A parkland walk with magnificent views of the house takes about half an hour. In addition a 20,000 sq. feet head high Beech hedge Maze is very popular with children and adults alike. There is also a 150 year old ‘Hippodrome’ building used for training horses in past centuries. A number of craft workshops are open at various times including a blacksmith with working forge and a weaver with working looms. Also a wood turner and a silversmith show how these ancient crafts are still undertaken today.

The Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland’s garden in Russborough’s 18th century walled garden is being restored by volunteers managed by the RHSI. This long term project includes reinstating the garden paths to their original layout; repairing the surrounding brick and stone walls using traditional building techniques, and restoring the curvilinear glasshouse. Hornbeam hedges have been planted already in anticipation of the development of individual gardens designed to demonstrate a variety of garden styles and techniques. In the summer months, the reinstated garden area is a riot of colour and productivity, with surplus flowers, fruit and vegetables offered for sale at the garden entrance. See for opening times and about volunteering.

The Kitchen Garden Cafe is available for snacks and light lunches and a souvenir shop is also on site. Disabled access , toilets & free parking. See for more information.

Russborough House is one of Ireland’s Ancient East top attractions


If you are living in the south or going there this summer then the beautiful parklands at Doneraile are well worth a visit. This was home to the st Ledger family – and where the steeplechase got its name in horse racing. The distance between the two steeples at Buttervent and st marys in Doneraile

PICTURE Clare Keogh

Welcome to Doneraile Estate


Doneraile Court is the stunning centrepiece of one of Ireland’s most beautiful estates. Located on the banks of the Awbeg river in north Co. Cork, the house dates from the 1720s, when it was built by Arthur St. Leger, the first Viscount Doneraile and father of the renowned Lady Freemason.

The house was modified extensively in the 19th century by later generations of St. Legers, creating the imposing and characterful building that can be enjoyed today. The kitchen wing from this period now serves as the home of the Doneraile Court tearooms and is a perfect way to start or finish your visit.

The St. Leger family remained in residence until 1969, when the property was sold to the Land Commission. The house then passed to the care of Irish Georgian Society, before coming to the stewardship of the Office of Public Works in 1994.

The estate and surrounding village has a strong literary tradition, incorporating figures such as Edmund Spenser, who immortalised the river Awbeg in his poem The Faerie Queene, Elizabeth Bowen, and Canon Sheehan. This legacy is reflected in our cultural programme, launched in June 2019.

PICTURE Clare Keogh

Today, Doneraile Court has opened its doors once again and resumes its rightful place at the heart of this great estate. The OPW is delighted to partner with the Crawford Art Gallery to share some significant works from the Gallery’s collection at Doneraile. From 27th March 2020, book a tour with one of our experienced guides to learn more about the fascinating history of the house and estate.

Free and open from 8am to 8pm


OPW Playgrounds

Doneraile is open –

Two in Phoenix park

Kilkenny castle playground

JFK arboretum will be opening soon with the announcement on social media


Ceide fields

Beneath the wild boglands of North Mayo lies the Céide Fields, the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world, consisting of field systems, dwelling areas and megalithic tombs. The stone walled fields, extending over thousands of acres are almost 6,000 years old, the oldest known in the world. They are covered by a natural blanket bog with its own unique vegetation and wildlife. The Visitor Centre has won several awards, including the Gold Medal for architecture. For Re-Opening date of center check social media…. It is located beside some of the most spectacular cliffs and rock formations in Ireland and a viewing platform is positioned on the edge of the 110m high cliff.

Visitors are advised to wear weather protective clothing and footwear suitable for walking on uneven terrain.

Location: 8km west of Ballycastle on R314.

For more information see

The North

This is the perfect year to visit north if you haven’t been yet because it has a host of treasures from the usual suspects – such as the titanic quarter as it stands the titanic not due to open until august but everything is subject to change and the giants causeway news will be on the national trust website soon it looks like mid July but we have to wait and see there is a booking site in place as there will be for most attractions this year – for updates go to


The Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark is located in the rugged mountainous uplands and the gentle rolling lowlands of Counties Fermanagh and Cavan, stretching from the northern shores of Lower Lough Erne in County Fermanagh to the southern shores of Lough Oughter in County Cavan. Jointly managed by both Fermanagh District Council and Cavan County Council, the Geopark promotes this area as one of the premier tourist destination in the North West of Ireland.

It is one of 119 UNESCO Global Geoparks across 33 countries worldwide and only the second UNESCO designated site in Northern Ireland. The status is awarded in recognition of the areas internationally significant rocks and landscapes and how they are utilised for sustainable tourism.

The Geopark boasts over 50 stunning sites including breath-taking viewpoints, magical waterfalls, wonderful wetlands and fantastic forests; with key sites including the mystical Cavan Burren Park, Lough Navar Forest, Shannon Pot (all of which are open year round) and the world famous Marble Arch Caves (open mid-March – October)

For more information see


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