Places to visit: Tours

Airfield House

Airfield Estate

In 1893, a successful Dublin solicitor named Trevor Overend purchased an 18th century farmhouse in Dundrum, Co. Dublin. The property was eventually inherited by his two daughters, Letitia and Naomi Overend. They lived there all their lives and prior to their death they set up the Airfield Trust, so that the estate would be kept intact for educational and recreational purposes.

The Overend ladies were well known for their prize-winning Jersey herd, named after characters from Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. They were regular prize winners at the RDS Spring Show. Their life and times can be appreciated via the Airfield House exhibition. The lasting effects of their fundraising and charity work for St John’s Ambulance brigade and Children’s Sunshine Home can be seen through an impressive collection of photographs, diaries and press clippings. They were also ladies who knew how to enjoy themselves, as evidenced by the memorabilia they gathered from their travels. Both sisters were also very interested in gardening.

The Airfield farm (20 acres), gardens, restaurant and heritage experience offer visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy and learn about food, farming, gardening, history and heritage in a natural and relaxed environment.

The farm at Airfield is a fine working example of environmentally sustainable agriculture in Ireland. Visitors are encouraged to explore and experience farm life up close. This is a working farm with a milking Jersey herd, as well as Jacob sheep, Oxford sandy black pigs, Saneen goats, Rhode Island red hens, chickens and donkeys.

The Jersey herd is milked once a day as part of Airfield’s commitment to sustainable farming. Visitors can watch the herd being milked, understand the pasteurisation process and taste the fresh, creamy milk used across the estate.

Throughout the year specialised events like lambing, calving and shearing highlight what is typically going on in farms around the country. Airfield is a working farm with a milking Jersey herd, as well as sheep, pigs, chickens and donkeys. The farm has 50 laying hens including Rhode Island Red Hybrids and fancy fowl such as Legbars and Arucanas.

The gardens in Airfield are just over six acres in size and composed of diverse spaces ranging from an ornamental walled garden, shade gardens and glasshouse spaces, to an extensive organic certified fruit, vegetable and edible flower garden. You can also visit a greenhouse garden, an orchard border, a sunken garden and a potting shed order.

The temperate climate of south Dublin accommodates a large variety of plants to be grown on site which provides year-round interest to any visitor. The gardens are managed organically which helps contribute to a vibrant biodiverse green space.

The display garage for vintage cars is a fine setting for Letitia’s 1927 Rolls Royce, Naomi’s Austin Tickford and Lily’s Peugeot Quadrilette.

Opening Hours:
General opening hours all year round are Wednesday to Sunday, 9.30am – 4.30pm, however opening days and hours vary monthly.
Not all features of the estate are open during general opening hours, and some or all may be closed for private functions. Please check here for detailed opening hours.

When open, there are daily activities including Egg Collection (10am), Jersey Herd Milking (10:30am) and Heritage Tours (12 & 2pm).
Special evening events and workshops may also be available for booking.
The Farmers Market is open Fri & Sat, 9am – 2.30pm.

Contact & Pricing:
airfield.ie
hello@airfield.ie
Tel: 01 969 6666
Overend Ave, Dundrum, Dublin 14.
Adults €12; concessions

Áras an Uachtaráin

Áras an Uachtaráin

Now the Residence of the President of Ireland, Áras an Uachtaráin, started as a modest brick house for the Phoenix Park Chief Ranger in 1751. It was subsequently acquired as an “occasional residence” for the Lords Lieutenants and gradually evolved to a large mansion. After Ireland gained independence, it was occupied by three Governors General between 1922 and 1937, prior to the first president Dr Douglas Hyde taking up residence there.

19th century architects Francis Johnston, Jacob Owen and Decimus Burton, and more recently, Raymond McGrath, as well as stuccodores Michael Stapleton and Bartholomew Cramillion, contributed to its gradual expansion, gardens and interiors. The Irish architect James Hoban may have used the garden front portico of Áras an Uachtaráin as the model for the façade of the White House.

Opening Hours:
Guided tours take place almost every Saturday all year round.
Tickets are free of charge, issued on a first-come-first-served basis, from the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre from 9.30am. Advanced or group booking is not possible. Visitors are advised to arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Guided tours of the House are offered on Saturdays at the following times:
Jan – Dec: 10am, 11.15am, 12.30pm, 1.45pm and 3pm
Guided tours of the Gardens only run from June until October.
Closed 24-26 December.

*Contact the Visitor Centre first to confirm that tours are taking place, as access can be restricted at times due to official State engagements.
Visitors must bring photographic identification on the day of the visit.

Contact & Pricing:
president.ie
phoenixparkvisitorcentre@opw.ie
Tel: 01 677 0095
Phoenix Park, Dublin 8
Admission free

Ardgillan Castle

Ardgillan Castle

Ardgillan is a large 18th Century country manor house (1738) built in extensive grounds overlooking the Irish Sea. The demesne features a walled garden and a rose garden. Within the house, the ground floor rooms and the kitchens are open to visitors (guided tour only).

Ardgillan Park is unique among Dublin’s regional parks for the magnificent views it enjoys of the coastline. A panorama, taking in Rockabill Lighthouse, Colt Church, Shenick and Lambay Islands may be seen, including Sliabh Foy, the highest of the Cooley Mountains, and the Mourne Mountains can be seen sweeping down to the sea.

Ardgillan Castle is open all year round. Access to the castle is by guided tour only. Tours are available on demand. The team of tour guides is experienced, with a great knowledge and understanding of the castle and its family occupants, The Taylors.

The Ardgillan Castle tour is approximately one hour long. Many periods of social history are brought to life with the focus firmly on the family who once lived in the castle. Visitors get the chance to explore the castle and enjoy the same atmosphere that the Taylors experienced from 1738, when the castle was built right up to 1962, when it was eventually sold.

The park area is the property of Fingal County Council and was opened to the public as a regional park in 1985. What was an arable farm was transformed  into a public park. Five miles of footpaths were provided throughout the demesne, some by opening old avenues, while others were newly constructed. They now provide a system of varied and interesting woodland, walks and vantage points from which to enjoy breath-taking views of the sea, the coastline and surrounding countryside. A sign-posted cycle route through the park means that cyclists can share the miles of walking paths with pedestrians.

Opening Hours:
Ardgillan Castle is open all year round, but times vary by month.
Tours are currently self-guided only.
Please contact in advance for groups of over 10 people.
Admission to all the gardens is free.
For current opening times of the park, gardens and house, check here.

Contact & Pricing:
ardgillancastle.ie
eventardgillan@fingal.ie
Tel: 01 849 2212
Adults €5; concessions

Bank of Ireland / House of Lords

Bank of Ireland (House of Lords)

Visit the former Irish Houses of Parliament. This was the world’s first purpose-built two-chamber parliament house. Built in 1729, the building was purchased in 1803 by the Bank of Ireland (in the wake of the Irish Parliament’s abolition in 1801).

wikipedia/Irish_Houses_of_Parliament

Extensive repair and restoration work is due to start in 2024, this may impact visitors.

Opening Hours:
Mon to Fri: 10am – 4pm
Guided tours, Tuesdays only: 10:30am, 11:30am, 1:45pm
Access may not be allowed to the House of Lords Chamber if the area is closed for a private function.

Contact & Pricing:
bankofireland.com
Tel: 01 677 6801
2 College Green, Dublin 2.
Admission free

Butlers Chocolate Experience

Butlers Chocolate Experience

What really goes on behind the doors of a working chocolate factory? Where does Butlers chocolate come from and how it is made? Would you like to learn about the different types of chocolate and how handcrafted Butlers Chocolate assortments, fudge and toffee, hot chocolate and the finest chocolate bars are created?

Find out by booking a guided tour at the Butlers Chocolate Experience, with plenty of chocolate tastings along the way. Watch the Chocolate Movie, wander around the Chocolate Museum, savour the aroma from the Chocolate Gallery and decorate your own chocolate novelty to bring home in the Chocolate Experience room.

Although the company was founded in 1932, the Butlers Irish Chocolates brand was not created till 1984. In 2011 Butlers Chocolates were named Food & Drink Exporter of the Year at the Irish Exporters Awards.

Opening Hours:
Tours available Tues to Sun: 10am, 1pm & 3.30pm. Tour times can be subject to change.
All bookings must be made in advance.
Check the official website booking calendar for current tour availability.
Please note that the factory is not operational on weekends and bank holidays.

Contact & Pricing:
butlerschocolates.com/factory-tour
experience@butlers.ie
Tel: 01 671 0599
Butlers Chocolates, Clonshaugh Business Park, Dublin 17
Tickets: €16.95

Custom House

Custom House Visitor Centre

A masterpiece of European neo-classicism, the building of a new Custom House for Dublin was the idea of John Beresford, who became first commissioner of revenue for Ireland in 1780. In 1781 he appointed James Gandon as architect, after Thomas Cooley, the original architect on the project, had died. This was Gandon’s first large scale commission.

The new Custom House was unpopular with Dublin Corporation and some city merchants who complained that it moved the axis of the city, would leave little room for shipping, and was being built on what at the time was a swamp. Purchase of land was delayed and proved exorbitant. The project was dogged by protests. 

When it was completed and opened for business on 7 November 1791, it cost £200,000 to build.  The four facades of the building are decorated with coats-of-arms and ornamental sculptures (by Edward Smyth) representing Ireland’s rivers. Another artist, Henry Banks, was responsible for the statue on the dome. 

As the port of Dublin moved further downriver, the building’s original use for collecting custom duties became obsolete, and it was used as the headquarters of local government in Ireland. During the Irish War of Independence in 1921, the Irish Republican Army burnt down the Custom House, in an attempt to disrupt British rule in Ireland. Gandon’s original interior was completely destroyed in the fire and the central dome collapsed. A large quantity of irreplaceable historical records were also destroyed in the fire.

After the Anglo-Irish Treaty, it was restored by the Irish Free State government. Further restoration was done in the 1980s.

James Gandon’s architectural masterpiece now houses a fully reimagined exhibition created by award-winning designers whose previous work includes exhibitions at Killarney House and Dublin Castle, with contributions from leading Irish historians and academics, featuring a narrative journey revealing a story with many layers, of people, heritage and history, spanning over 200 years.

The exhibition flows and develops chronologically using each space to tell a chapter in the story, taking visitors from Dublin in the late 1700s through to the 21st century and giving them the unique and authentic experience of being inside the walls of one of the city’s most iconic buildings.

The new visitor experience takes visitors on a narrative journey through the building itself, highlighting the magnificent architecture and using first-hand accounts, personal stories, and artefacts to tell the story of the building and the city from the 1700s up to the present day.

The exhibition shows how the building witnessed some of the most momentous events in Irish history, from the 1916 Easter Rising to the birth of the Irish Free State and eventually the Republic of Ireland. The fulcrum of this story is the burning of the Custom House in May 1921; this event is brought to life though captivating audio visual interpretation and artefacts from the period.

Opening Hours:
Open 7 days a week (including Public Holidays) from 10am – 5.30 pm.
The Centre is usually open from 28 – 30 December.
Closed 24 – 27 December, 31 December and 1 January.

Contact & Pricing:
heritageireland.ie/places-to-visit/custom-house-visitor-centre/
customhousevc@opw.ie
Tel: 046 940 7140
Custom Quay, Dublin 1
Adults €8 (guided tour); Adults €6 (self-guided); concessions
Credit/Debit card required to purchase tickets.

Dalkey Castle

Dalkey Castle and Heritage Centre

Dalkey Castle is one of the seven fortified town houses/castles of Dalkey. The castles  were built to store goods off-loaded in Dalkey during the Middle Ages, when Dalkey acted as the port for Dublin. From the mid-1300s to the late 1500s, large Anglo-Norman ships could not access Dublin, as the river Liffey was silted up. But they could anchor safely in the deep waters of Dalkey Sound. The castles all had defensive features to protect goods from being plundered. These are all still visible on the site.

On site you will find a medieval castle/fortified townhouse, an early Christian Church, a state of the art Heritage Centre, and a Writers’ Gallery with portraits and interactive screens featuring the work of 45 writers and creative artists. Climb to the battlements for panoramic views of sea and mountains. Enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the early Christian Church and Graveyard, dedicated to Saint Begnet. Browse the interactive time line from early Christian through Viking, Medieval, Victorian and modern times.

Guided living history tours – Professional actors bring history to life with a fun theatre performance as part of the guided tour. Travel back in time and be enthralled by the work of the Archer, the Cook and the travelling Barber-Surgeon. Actors from Deilg Inis Living History Theatre Company involve you in their lives, their work and their stories.

Opening Hours:
Mon to Fri 10am – 5.30pm. Closed Tuesdays.
Sat, Sun & Bank Holidays 11am – 5.30 pm
Open until 6pm in June, July & August.

Special events, tours and prices vary seasonally.
Advanced online booking is recommended.
Entry to the Heritage Centre is included in the guided tour price.

Contact & Pricing:
dalkeycastle.com
info@dalkeycastle.com
Tel: 01 285 8366.
Castle Street, Dalkey, Co. Dublin.
Adults starting from €15; concessions.

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle operated in the past (for 700 years) as a military fortress, a prison, a treasury, the courts of law and the seat of English administration in Ireland.

The State Apartments dominate the south range of the Great Courtyard. They were built as the residential and public quarters of the Viceregal Court and were the seat of the executive and focus of fashionable and extravagant social life. Today the Apartments are the venue for Ireland’s Presidencies of the European Union, for Presidential inaugurations and for prestigious functions.

The Undercroft is sited at lower ground floor level in the Lower Castle Yard, opposite the Chapel Royal. The city walls join the Castle at this point. Here, the archway allowed small feeder boats to land provisions at the postern gate, from larger boats moored on the Liffey. The double archway and postern gate are still visible. Also on view here is the Viking defence bank, within the butt of the Norman Powder Tower. The original Tower was five stories high – the top storey being occupied by the Lord Deputy during the 16th century.

The Chapel Royal is a gothic revival building designed by Francis Johnston. It is famous for its vaulting, its particularly fine plaster decoration and carved oaks and galleries. Admission to the Chapel Royal is free.

Also on this site, in the Revenue Museum one can experience a unique window on the many and varied activities of the Revenue Commissioners, from tax collection to customs controls, over several centuries. In addition to exhibits old and new, the Museum (located in the Crypt of the Chapel Royal) contains audio-visual displays and instructive video games. See if you can find hidden contraband or guess the parts of a house that were subject to tax in days gone by.

Among the many exhibits are the first set of Exchequer Returns for Saorstát Éireann, a poitín still, a stamp duty machine, examples of counterfeit goods and endangered species seized at ports and airports, early computer technology, and a wide range of beautiful measuring instruments. All of these are housed in the atmospheric crypt of the Chapel Royal.

The Garda Museum and Archives are located at the Treasury Building, Dublin Castle. Here visitors will find an interesting exhibition about the history of An Garda Síochána and information on policing in Ireland before 1922.   The museum exhibits include photographs and documents outlining the history and development of policing in Ireland in the 19th/20th centuries.

Opening Hours:
Open seven days a week 9.45am – 5.45pm, last admission 5.15pm.
The State Apartments, the Undercroft and the Chapel Royal are open during these hours. Guided tours run hourly from 10am-4pm, with tickets available online and at the venue. Self-guided or group tours can be booked in advance.
Revenue Museum is open weekdays from 10am to 4pm.
Garda Museum and Archives are open to the public weekdays from 10am to 2pm.

All attractions on this site are closed Good Friday,  25 – 27 December & 1 January.
As Dublin Castle is a working Irish Government building, security, access to rooms and opening arrangements may be subject to change at short notice.
Please check the website for updates before visiting.

Contact & Pricing:
dublincastle.ie
dublincastle@opw.ie
museum@revenue.ie
museum@garda.ie
Tel: 046 942 2213 (General enquiries)
01 863 5601 (Revenue Museum)
01 666 9998 (Garda Museum)
Dame Street, Dublin 2
Adults from €8; concessions

Dublinia

Dublinia

Dublinia is a museum in which Viking and Medieval Dublin are re-created through life-size reconstructions.

Viking Dublin:  See what life was like on board a Viking warship. Learn about long and challenging voyages, weaponry and the skills of being a Viking warrior. Try on Viking clothes, become a slave and stroll down a noisy street. Visit a smoky and cramped Viking house, learn the Viking runic alphabet and hear their poetry and sagas.

Medieval Dublin: From Strongbow to the Reformation, experience the re-created sights, sounds and smells of this busy city. Learn of warfare, crime and punishment, death and disease. Visit a medieval fair, a rich merchant’s kitchen and a bustling medieval street.

The Past Today: Find out about Dublin’s rich past. Discover how we are influenced by the Viking and Medieval eras. See artifacts found in Dublin on permanent loan from the National Museum of Ireland, including those from the famous Wood Quay excavations. Take a flying visit over the Medieval city and immersive yourself in the audio-visual experience, a story of one man’s life growing up in Medieval Dublin.

Living History guides are on-hand to give you all the information you need to know about Viking weapons, the history of the barber surgeon, medieval medicine and herbs, and even showing you how to play Hnefatafl (Viking chess). The guides are stationed around the exhibition and are happy to answer all your Viking and Medieval queries.

Walking tours of Viking and Medieval Dublin take place at 11.00 am Thursday to Sunday. Information is available on your arrival at Dublinia. The tours do not require advance booking before your visit and your admission ticket covers the cost.

St Michael’s Tower: Dublinia’s late seventeenth century viewing tower belonged to the church of St Michael the Archangel, which once stood at the site now occupied by Dublinia. The medieval tower has 96 steps leading to a panoramic view of Dublin. Access to the viewing tower is weather dependent.

To generate atmosphere, the walking route through Dublinia is a little narrow so the attraction is less enjoyable at peak periods (especially when large tour groups may be in attendance). For this reason, visiting the site off peak is recommended.

Opening Hours:
Open daily from 10am – 6pm, last admission 5pm.
Guided tours of museum daily at 2pm (excluding July).
Walking tours of Viking and Medieval Dublin take place at 11am Monday to Saturday (excluding July).
Tours do not require advance booking and your admission ticket covers the cost.
€1 per ticket discount for online booking.
Closed 24 – 26 Dec

Contact & Pricing:
dublinia.ie
info@dublinia.ie
Tel: 01 679 4611
St. Michael’s Hill, Christchurch, Dublin 8
Adults €15; concessions

Farmleigh House

Farmleigh House

Farmleigh is an estate of 78 acres located in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Owned by the State, it provides accommodation for visiting dignitaries & guests of the nation, hosts high level Government meetings, and is also available to be enjoyed by the public.

Farmleigh remains a unique representation of its heyday, the Edwardian period, when wealthy industrialists had replaced landowners as the builders of large mansions in Ireland. Their tastes were eclectic, mixing a variety of architectural styles and decors.

Edward Cecil Guinness, first Earl of Iveagh, the great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, built Farmleigh around a smaller Georgian house in the 1880’s. Many of the artworks and furnishings he collected for Farmleigh remain in the house on loan from the Guinness family to the State. The Benjamin Iveagh collection of rare books, bindings and manuscripts is held  in the Library.

The extensive pleasure grounds are a wonderful collection of Victorian and Edwardian ornamental features with walled and sunken gardens, scenic lakeside walks and a range of plants that provide both visual and horticultural interest throughout the seasons. The Estate also boasts a working farm with a herd of Kerry Black cows.

Opening Hours:
The grounds and estate are open 7 days a week, from 10am – 6pm, last entry 5pm. Access to Farmleigh House is by guided tour, and includes selected rooms on the ground floor.
Guided tours are available on a first come, first serve basis from 10.00 am to 5.30 pm, last entry is 4.30pm.

Please note that, as Farmleigh is a working Government building, the House may close at short notice.

Contact & Pricing:
farmleigh.ie
farmleighguides@opw.ie
Tel: 01 815 5914
Phoenix Park, Dublin 15.
Adults €8; concessions.
Free admission on the first Wednesday of each month.