Ireland Set’s New Record For Annual Visitors in 2017 – This Is Why

Céad Míle Fáilte quite literally translates into one hundred thousand welcomes but it turns out that’s not nearly enough in 2017 as more people have come to visit Ireland this year than ever before!

10.56 million people (more than twice the Irish population), came over to our beautiful little island over the last 12 months. It’s becoming pretty clear that we’re doing something right so to help seal the deal on the best ever year for visitors to Ireland, we’re going to delve into why our home has never been so popular.

Ireland Goes Global

It may have been a secret to the wider world for many years but 2017 was the year that Ireland’s stunning landscapes were catapulted into the limelight (overdue if you ask us) thanks to two of the biggest film/TV franchises in history.

Turns out Luke Skywalker had been hiding out all this time in Co.Kerry, or more specifically, 7km off the coast of Kerry on the simply breathtaking rock we more as Skellig Michael. It wasn’t only down South that was used as a set location for The Last Jedi, our most northerly point of Malin Head also features prominently in the new blockbuster.

Game of Thrones has long been shot in Northern Ireland with the Iron Islands, Winterfell, the King’s Road and many more infamous scenes were brought to life by our landscapes and history.

Pic credit @trevorcole via

Star Wars and GoT have done for Ireland what Lord of the Rings did for New Zealand, and they’ve loved it!

We Can’t Stop Featuring On The ‘Hot Lists’ And Winning Travel Awards

Every day, another global travel blog or website lists Irish locations near the top of their ‘hot lists’. Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway is Lonely Planet’s No.1 Region to visit in 2018.

The Titantic Museum in Belfast was listed as the Best Tourist Attraction in Europe and then the world in 2016, beating the likes of the Effiel Tower and the Taj Mahal.

Spike Island in Co.Cork was recently voted the top tourist attraction in Europe for 2017, making it back-to-back victories for Ireland in the World Travel Awards.

More Flights, Cheaper Flights

Dublin airport has become one of Europe’s busier airports since the introduction of US pre-clearance and a second terminal in 2010.

Transatlantic routes have seen a huge increase in frequency in the last 2 or 3 years as international low-cost airlines like WOW Air and Norwegian have entered the market, driving down the cost of a flight from North America to Dublin, Shannon or Cork.

The Bounceback is Complete

Ireland’s roaring economy crashed in a mightily big way back in 2009. Fast forward eight years and the economic outlook is comparable with ‘Celtic Tiger’ days but this time, backed up sustainably.

Dublin has been coined the European Capital of Digital on many occasions and it’s not surprising to see why given the stature of online companies that have their European Headquarters in Ireland. In no particular order the likes of Google, LinkedIn, PayPal, Dropbox, Microsoft, Apple, IBM. Airbnb and Twitter. Impressive right?

What’s more, Dublin is fast becoming a multicultural haven for talented labour from all corners of the world who are flocking here for the opportunities but also the lifestyle.

Whiskey and Golf Courses

If you’re like me, that heading is essentially Christmas. Granted, this combination isn’t for everyone but Ireland is uniquely positioned as a global standard for both. Over 650,000 tourists visited Irish distilleries this year (that’s not including the 1.6m who check out the Guinness Storehouse).

Ireland is home to some of the world’s most naturally spectacular and challenging golf courses in the world. While the profiles of Rory McIlroy, shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington continue to push Ireland into the golfing limelight, some 160,000 international visitors came here in 2017 with great links courses like Royal Portrush, Portmarnock and Ballybunion in their crosshairs.

The Craic

Last but not least, the mystical vibe and sense of community which oozes out of every moment being here – the craic. Have you ever heard anyone coming to Ireland and not enjoying themselves, enjoying the music, enjoying the laughs and enjoying new friendships made over a pint? Us neither.

Thinking about spending some time away from home in 2018? Join our growing international community right here in Dublin by spending four months or an entire year living and working in Ireland? USIT’s Work in Ireland Programme offers our clients a support network to help you get off to a flying start here in Ireland. We’ve helped hundreds of students from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe settle here. Email or call us on +353 1 602 1888 and let’s start planning.



Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Ireland

Guinness Storehouse

The Guinness Storehouse is located in Dublin and is a must see for very visitor to Ireland. The Storehouse is also Ireland’s most famous attraction so book in advance! Not only does it offer the best view of Dublin but you also get a free pint of ‘the black stuff’. Very tempting! The Guinness Storehouse tells the story of how Guinness became Ireland’s largest export. Travel through 7 floors of storytelling to get to the Gravity Bar. This attraction gives a real insight into Irish culture and is definitely worth the admission price!

Cliffs of Moher

A personal favourite for its exceptional views.  The cliffs overlook the Atlantic Ocean and stretch across 5 miles. The Cliffs of Moher is a worldwide known attraction and last year over 1 million tourists visited the cliffs. A visitor centre has been newly opened and gives its visitors an interactive experience. The Aran Islands, Galway Bay, The Twelve Pins and the Maum Turk Mountains can all be seen from the cliffs. This attraction is definitely a must for photographers as it is one of the most instagrammed places in Ireland.



Dublin Zoo

If you are an animal lover, Dublin Zoo is a must visit tourist attraction. Located in Phoenix Park in Dublin City it is a very popular attraction for all ages. Dublin Zoo is a fun filled day out and is home to over 600 different animals. The Zoo also holds different events throughout the year so make sure you look them up online and see what’s happening! The Asian forests are the newest part of Dublin Zoo where visitors can see Asian lions and Sumatran tigers. Make sure to check out the animals feeding times in advance to get the most of the experience.

Boyne Valley

Boyne Valley is located in the East of Ireland in Co. Meath. It was once Ireland’s ancient capital and it’s most sacred and mythical landscape. If you are looking to discover Irish history from ancient times it is definitely a place you should visit. You can admire the views at Trim Castle, the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Europe; you can visit the great prehistoric tombs at Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange) and the site of the infamous Battle of the Boyne. Visiting the Hill of Tara is a must, as you are sharing the views with the ancient High Kings of Ireland and be mesmerised by the detail of the Celtic Crosses at Kells. Boyne Valley has excellent guided tours to bring you right back to ancient times and let you explore the vast Irish history up close and personal.

Boyne Valley





Aran Islands

A trip to the West of Ireland would be imperfect without visiting the Aran Islands. If you wish to experience real Irish culture these islands are a must do. The locals speak English and Irish so you definitely will pick up a few ‘focal’ (See your already learning!). Previous visitors recommend renting a bike to explore the islands. The Aran Islands have lots of outdoor activities like fishing, surfing and boat trips. An excellent place to visit to unwind and merge yourself into Irish culture.

Aran Islands





Titanic Experience Belfast

The Titanic Belfast is Northern Ireland’s biggest tourism attraction. It was also awarded the world’s leading tourist attraction. (If you loved the film it is a must visit!). The Titanic experience takes you through nine interactive galleries. The story is told in a fun and insightful way leaving visitors intrigued. The story starts with yhr ships conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to her famous maiden voyage and tragic end. The tours last up to 2 hours and the audio tours can be listened to in different languages. Visitors can now also have afternoon tea and there are one hour walking tours of how the Titanic was built. Visitors are advised to book in advance due to its popularity.

Ring of Kerry

If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the cities you should escape to Kerry. The Ring of Kerry is a 179km circular route of the Iveragh Peninsula. The route is best done at a leisurely pace to take in the scenery and the breath taking views. It also offers visitors the chance to experience surfing, cycling, hill walking, golfing, fishing and so much more. This area of natural beauty offers visitors views from the Atlantic Ocean, small picturesque villages and cliffs and mountains. Tourists are urged to explore the smaller towns and discover hidden gems amongst historic monuments.

Ring of Kerry





Croke Park

Croke Park is home to the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association), located in Dublin City. The stadium is one of the largest in Europe, with a capacity of 82,300 people. It can accommodate all types of events – from field sports to concerts, meetings to tradeshows and bespoke banqueting. Ask any Irish sporting fan where their favourite place to be on a summer’s Sunday is – and the ansdwer is sure to be Croke Park. There is nothing quite like experiencing the atmosphere and the passion the Irish people have for GAA. Gaelic games are played throughout the year but the summer is when the key battles take place and the city is swarmed in each county’s colours. Croke Park also offers historical tours and its newest attraction a skyline tour of Dublin. The views are exceptional!

Giants Causeway

The Giants Causeway is located in County Antrim in Northern Ireland. It is Northern Irelands only UNESCO World Heritage site. Giant’s Causeway was created by a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago. You can also learn about the myth of Finn MacCool which will add an interesting and fun element to your visit. Your visit to the attraction will include an audio visual presentation, you can browse in the souvenir shop and also there is a tourist information office on site. And not to leave out the spectacular walks and scenery all dwelled deep in history.

Giants Causeway





Blarney Castle and Gardens

Blarney Castle and gardens is a famous landmark in County Cork. There are three parts to the experience, Blarney stone, castle gardens and rock close. The most famous and talked about would be Blarney stone. Hundreds of pilgrims flock here daily, climbing the steps to kiss the Blarney Stone and gain the gift of eloquence. When you reach the top visitors lean back and hold onto an iron rail and receive the gift of eloquence. There are some great stories behind the origin and guides tell you the stories in a fun and interesting way. And not to forget the gardens, you can wander around exploring the tranquil and magical surroundings.

Blog Post by Emma Callaghan, Work in Ireland.