Iconic Irish sites ranging from the Phoenix Park in Dublin to the Poulnabrone Dolmen in the Burren, Co Clare, are looked after by the Office of Public Works (OPW). We are responsible for caring, maintaining and operating the country’s most important heritage sites.
Two of these are World Heritage Sites – Newgrange and Skellig Michael. But our heritage sites also include a large number of smaller, less well known but significant properties of national importance. In total, the OPW looks after 780 sites.
The list includes historical houses such as Farmleigh, gardens like the Garden of Remembrance and St Stephen’s Green, historic battle sites like the Battle of the Boyne – and islands of cultural importance, such as the Great Blasket in Co Kerry.
All our sites are an integral part of Ireland’s cultural heritage. We also have a duty to conserve the heritage of buildings and monuments in State care while allowing and encouraging the public to visit them.
Millions of Irish and foreign visitors visit our heritage sites every year to learn about Ireland’s history and culture. Seventy of our most popular sites have a Guide Service, either full-time or on a seasonal basis. These guides provide tours and talks. In 2012, 3.8 million visitors came to these sites to enjoy them, their interpretive displays and the pamphlets and newsletters provided. Many more millions of visitors enjoy the OPW’s unmanned sites.
Two specialist units are responsible for the OPW’s Heritage Service function:
These units are supported by the Visitor Services unit, which administers the Guide Service and the marketing of sites.
OPW Heritage Services works with other official agencies and partners who have key roles in promoting Ireland’s heritage. These include:
- Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht
- Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government
- The Heritage Council
- Fáilte Ireland
- Local authorities
- Heritage officers
In addition, we co-operate with a number of parties with an interest in Heritage, including:
- Local history groups and societies
- Archaeological groups
- Academic and cultural institutions