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Explore Ireland’s Heritage sites with the Office of Public Works’ exciting programme

Custom House Visitor Centre

This year the Office of Public Works (OPW) invites YOU to explore several of Ireland’s beautiful heritage sites, including Kilkenny Castle, Casino Marino and Custom House, in order to discover their rich pasts. 


The OPW is responsible for 780 heritage sites around Ireland, maintaining these historic properties so that the public can continue to enjoy them. From Elizabethan era homes to icons of neo-classical design, the OPW allows us a glimpse into our history, which, though fraught, is brimming with stories. 


For history lovers, aesthetes, or people who would like to connect to our island’s heritage, the OPW’s programme of events promises a scintillating taste of life in Ireland through the ages. 

Here’s a quick preview of some of the events you can look forward to this Culture Night 2023:


  • Take a wander through the Liffey’s quays to Custom House, one of Ireland’s most impressive architectural feats, and count the 14 heads of the river gods on the building’s famous exterior. Designed by the architect James Gandon in the eighteenth century, Custom House is an integral site in Ireland’s history, from its use during the 1916 rising, to its burning in 1921. Participants are invited to take a free After Hours Tour of Custom House Visitor Centre, to discover more about the building’s political significance and the critical events that took place there, which changed the course of Ireland’s history. 


  • Kilkenny Castle invites music and history enthusiasts to Upstairs, Downstairs: Popular Tunes of the 16th and 17th Century. Discover the songs and melodies enjoyed by inhabitants of both the main and servant quarter of a grand home. The evening is led by Laoise O’Brien (recorders) and Malcolm Proud (harpsichord), seasoned musicians who have performed with the Irish Baroque Orchestra, Resurgam and Sestina. The performance will be staggered, so that guests may explore the castle’s other period rooms during their visit.


  • For anyone interested in neoclassical architecture, the Casino Marino Tour in Dublin offers visitors the opportunity to explore one of the finest homes of its type in Europe. Built in the late-eighteenth century as a pleasure house for the 1st Earl of Charlemont, James Caufield, the building is adorned with intricate carved stonework and sculpture reminiscent of a Greek temple. Depictions of Roman gods such as Apollo, Bacchus and Venus, as well as ornamental urns and ox-heads populate the casino’s impressive exterior. Take a tour at 16.30, 18.00 or 19.00 to discover more. 


The planetary scientist Carl Sagan said ‘You have to know the past to understand the present.’ Connect with Ireland’s history in order to understand the country as it is today, by visiting a heritage site. Their origin stories and transformations through time are sure to shine a light on the patterns inherent in Irish society. 

Check out the full OPW Programme here for more events:

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