Reflecting on the figures, which are based on visitor numbers from 2015 to the end of last year, newly-appointed Minister of State at the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, Athlone-based Kevin 'Boxer' Moran said he is “very proud” of the contribution made by the OPW-managed heritage sites “to the economy and to society.”
The new Minister, who is seeking to introduce a free admission policy for children to all OPW sites outside Dublin, has described Clonmacnoise and other heritage sites as “not only iconic attractions” but said they also contribute significantly to the “quality of life of our own citizens.”
During his term at the helm in the OPW, Minister Moran says he would like to see heritage sites which are currently “under lock and key” being returned to their local communities, so that they can be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
The Minister said the latest figures from the OPW “follow the trend in increasing visitor numbers in recent years” arising from the success of the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland's Ancient East, and he expressed the hope that this trend will continue.
Clonmacnoise, who was one of seven heritage sites to win CIE Tours International Awards of Excellence last year, saw visitor numbers increase from 157,660 in 2015 to 170,119 by the end of last year.