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Johnstown Castle Development Launched

Pictured at Johnstown Castle at the launch were Teagasc Chairman, Dr Noel Cawley, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin and Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle.

A €7.5 million proposed development of Johnstown Castle in County Wexford was officially launched by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin TD, today, Friday, 9 October. Teagasc, who own the Castle on behalf of the State, are partnering with the Irish Heritage Trust and the Irish Agricultural Museum, to undertake major conservation work on the Castle and to develop the heritage and tourism potential of the Castle and Gardens for the South East. Teagasc are working closely with Failte Ireland so that this investment compliments their recently launched Ireland Ancient East tourism strategy.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin TD, said; “This is a major boost not just for Wexford and the South East of the country but it will significantly contribute to Ireland’s tourism offering, particularly to Ireland’s ‘Ancient East’. This development aims to make Johnstown Castle the most visited attraction in the South East of Ireland and to greatly increase the amount of pleasure which people, from Ireland and abroad, obtain from the buildings and grounds of Johnstown Castle. For the first time, the Castle itself will be opened to the public to visit. It’s important to preserve such an historic building to a high standard for future generations to understand and enjoy their heritage.”

At the launch, Teagasc Chairman, Dr Noel Cawley outlined some of the history of the Castle. “The original Johnstown Castle was built by the Esmonde family who had come to County Wexford from Lincolnshire in the wake of the Anglo-Norman Invasion in 1169. Its ownership changed many times in the intervening years before it was gifted to the state and set up and run as a horticultural college from 1945 to 1960 and subsequently for agricultural research. Over the last twenty years, Teagasc’s environmental research work has been transferred into purpose built laboratories and office facilities leaving the Castle itself available for this exciting new development.”

Funding of €5.0 million is available for the project through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and a request for €2.5 million in Failte Ireland funding is being considered by its board. Development work will take place in five zones namely; the castle, the pleasure grounds, the walled garden, the stable yard and farm, and the lower lake.

Outlining the schedule for the development, Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle said: “The development phase of the project will run from autumn 2015 to mid-2017. A design team led by Falconer Architects of Waterford has been appointed and they are working on refining and detailing the overall plan for the site. An application for planning permission is expected to be submitted early next year to Wexford County Council. We will be tendering for the major components of the work with a view to commencing construction in the third quarter of next year. Work has already started on developing pathways to open up the lower lake for visitors to enjoy.”