Trinity College Dublin has been rated the site most worthy of official heritage status according to new research conducted by specialist heritage insurer Ecclesiastical Ireland, to coincide with National Heritage Week 2012. Representing public attitudes to Ireland’s heritage landmarks, the third annual National Heritage Survey places Trinity College ahead of the GPO and Saint James’ Gate as the top three sites which should be considered for official heritage status.
For a third consecutive year, Newgrange has emerged as the nation’s favourite heritage site with 16% of the vote, followed jointly by the Cliffs of Moher (9%) and Glendalough (9%). The majority of respondents also consider Newgrange to be the heritage site of greatest historical importance to Ireland (37%).
As the home of Newgrange, Meath is considered to be the county most rich in Irish heritage (26%) while Kerry has been rated the most scenic county in Ireland (35%), ahead of Galway, Cork and Donegal.
The research shows that 41% of respondents have been more likely to visit Ireland’s free heritage sites since the onset of the recession. Over half of those surveyed have been more inclined to take a “staycation” while almost three quarters of respondents have visited a free heritage site while on holidays in Ireland over the last year.
Overall, 26% of respondents frequently visit an Irish heritage site or landmark, while 10% visit more than ten times a year.
88% of those surveyed believe Ireland’s heritage sites to be important or very important to the tourism industry but 71% believe that not enough is being done to promote Irish heritage sites and landmarks to the public.
David Lane, managing director of Ecclesiastical Insurance Ireland, comments: “It is clear from our research that as a nation we take great pride in our cultural and historic landmarks. Over a quarter of those surveyed reported visiting Irish heritage sites frequently, which reiterates the importance of our heritage gems as a valuable tourism resource, not just for overseas tourists but also increasingly for those holidaying at home.”
Of the sites on the UNESCO tentative list for world heritage status, the early medieval sites of Clonmacnoise, Durrow and Glendalough are the preference (25%), ahead of The Burren (23%), The Historic City of Dublin (21%) and the Royal Sites of Ireland which include the Rock of Cashel and the Hill of Tara (20%).
As in previous years, the castle has been rated the most popular heritage structure (27%), followed by round towers and monastic sites (18%), country manors and estate houses (15%).
Meanwhile, the Ceide Fields and Newgrange are the top two heritage sites that respondents are most embarrassed not to have visited yet.