Johnstown Castle, Wexford’s greatest surviving country estate, is currently home to the Irish Agricultural Museum in the estate’s stable yard – providing a nostalgic journey through Irish farming and social history.
To date, however, the Gothic Revival castle itself has never been open to the public; this is all set to change as the new Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens experience is to open to the public in spring 2019.
The Irish Heritage Trust, an independent charity, was announced in 2015 as the successful applicant to work with Teagasc, the Irish Agricultural Museum and the local community to develop a new and exciting visitor experience at Johnstown Castle which includes the famous Daniel Robertson Ornamental Gardens.
At present, the €7.5 million project works are underway at Johnstown with an entirely new ‘3 in 1’ attraction set to be unveiled at the castle, museum and gardens. A new visitor centre is being built in the castle courtyard including an extensive shop specialising in local products and a 120 seat café with terrace.
The castle at Johnstown is undergoing conservation works required to allow public access and to safeguard the castle’s future including essential repairs and electrical work. The castle tour will include the adjoining 86 metre original ‘servants’ tunnel’, believed to be the longest in the country and also opening to the public for the first time.
Commenting on the progress at what is set to be one of Ireland’s foremost tourist attractions, Anne O’Donoghue, CEO of the Irish Heritage Trust said, “Johnstown Castle is a hugely significant building of national importance and we look forward to bringing it back to life. This is a hugely exciting addition for Irish Tourism and Ireland’s Ancient East and is set to be one of Ireland’s foremost tourist attractions.”
The Johnstown visitor experience will also offer access to the stunning lower lake area to meander and explore, a new playground, as well as new parking and entrance arrangements with ample car and coach parking.
Charming garden walks will be available in the tour experience as well as the existing Irish Agricultural Museum. The Museum’s exhibitions explore the collection of folk, farming, rural history and objects from the turn of the 18th century until the middle of the 20th century.
“This is a vast and exciting project at Johnstown and we are delighted to be completing this initial phase of work. We, along with the Irish Heritage Trust look forward to providing a warm welcome to all our visitors both returning and new to this wonderful ‘3 in 1’ attraction in 2019,” said Tom Doherty, Chief Operations Officer of Teagasc.
The Irish Heritage Trust was established in July 2006 as a joint initiative between government and the voluntary sector. The Trust has had great success in developing other heritage projects and bringing places to life over the years including Fota House and Gardens in Cork and Strokestown Park and The National Famine Museum, Roscommon.
The works taking place inside Johnstown Castle and the construction of the new visitor centre are wide-ranging and continue apace; despite this, the works do not impact the facilities currently open to the public. The Irish Agricultural Museum and Tearoom along with the Johnstown Castle Gardens, Shop and Tea Room will be open until 4 pm daily (November-February).