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Johnstown Castle & Gardens


Johnstown Castle was built by the Esmonde family who arrived in Co Wexford from Lincolnshire in the wake of the Anglo-Norman Invasion in 1169. The Esmondes became important landowners in succeeding centuries but they were expelled from Co Wexford by Cromwell in the 17th century. It later became the home of the Grogan family who acquired Johnstown in 1682 by marriage. In 1798, Cornelius Grogan was hanged by the British for complicity with the Rebellion. In 1810, his brother John Knox Grogan bought the Estate back and he and his son, Hamilton Knox Grogan-Morgan, went on to develop the castle, grounds, lakes and estate that we enjoy today.

The current walled gardens were laid out between 1844 -1851 and include a recently restored main glasshouse. The extensive grounds have three lakes which are a haven for wildlife and includes the Lower Lake, the largest fresh water lake in eastern Ireland. There are many pathways for visitors to enjoy year round and a woodland adventure playground for younger visitors. There are also 19th century follies and a rectangular tower house, known as Rathlannon Castle, which dates back to the 16th century. Johnstown Castle itself is a magnificent structure rebuilt and remodelled in the early 19th century in the Gothic Revival style by Daniel Robertson. It includes one of the longest servants’ tunnels in the country which emerges under a stone building which served as the meat store. The historic courtyard stable buildings have been home to the Irish Agricultural Museum for almost 50 years. The extensive collection which includes Ferguson tractors, a famine exhibition and country furniture occupies two floors and explores rural life in Ireland from 1800 to the 1950s. All three elements – the castle, gardens and museum are now managed by the Irish Heritage Trust on behalf of Teagasc and the Board of the Irish Agricultural Museum.

Visitors can buy a ticket at the modern Visitor Centre, with café and gift shop, and then wander around the gardens and museum. There is also a guided tour of the castle which explores the chequered history of the various families over the years. Meanwhile, Teagasc, which is responsible for the entire estate, continue to carry out its research programme on the surrounding farmlands of the Estate.

Address: Teagasc, Environment Research Centre, Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford Y35 Y521

For more information on opening hours and tickets visit www.johntowncastle.ie