Irish Heritage Trust

Passionate About Great Visitor Experiences

The Irish Heritage Trust is an independent registered charity which manages and cares for some of Ireland’s most prestigious house, gardens and museums.

Its properties include Strokestown Park House, Gardens & National Famine Museum; Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens; and Johnstown Castle, Estate, Museum & Gardens.

The Trust provides for their conservation and maintenance, and it ensures that they are available for members of the public to enjoy and appreciate in perpetuity. It is also helping them towards financial sustainability, so they can make positive contributions to Irish culture and their communities.

Johnstown Castle, which lies just 10 minutes from Wexford town, was gifted to the Irish State in 1945. It later became the home of An Foras Talúntais which has since become Teagasc – Ireland’s agriculture and food development agency.

Under its leadership, the Johnstown Estate began its journey towards becoming a visitor attraction. In 1974, Dr Austin O’Sullivan began collecting materials relating to farming and rural life in Ireland at Johnstown, and the Irish Agricultural Museum was opened in the estate’s farm buildings by President Patrick Hillery in 1979.

As Teagasc’s operations on the site changed over the years, the opportunity arose to restore the castle and open it, and the wider estate, up as a place for everyone to enjoy, alongside the museum.

In 2015, Teagasc issued a public tender looking for a partner to reinvigorate Johnstown and bring it back to life as a landmark attraction in Ireland’s Ancient East.

The Irish Heritage Trust was announced as the successful applicant. Since then, the Trust has been working with Teagasc, the Irish Agricultural Museum, and the local community to fulfil that remit.

Key Partnerships

In 2015, the Irish government announced it would provide €7.5 million for the development of Johnstown Castle. Funding of €5 million was made available through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and €2.5 million was provided by Fáilte Ireland, Ireland’s National Tourism Authority.

The Irish Heritage Trust managed the vital conservation and development work that underpins the compelling visitor experience now on offer across Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens and its stunning grounds. As a non-profit organisation, it continues to reinvest in Johnstown – its conservation and the experience it offers to visitors – in close partnership with the local community, including over 100 volunteers.

A New Visitor Experience at Johnstown Castle

Careful conservation work was accompanied by the development of a new visitor centre, a new lower Lake Walk, and a woodland play area, and access was improved with new parking and entrance arrangements. And, in spring 2019, Johnstown Castle opened to the public for guided tours.

You can now step inside Johnstown Castle’s rare servants’ subterranean passageway, as well as explore three floors of this impressive historic property.

Three Wonderful Experiences Await You!

  • Step inside Johnstown Castle’s rare servants’ tunnel, and explore three floors of this impressive historic property.
  • Wander through spectacular ornamental grounds designed by Daniel Robertson where you’ll find a range of beautiful sculptured walks, lake walks and a Victorian walled garden.
  • Explore one of the most comprehensive exhibits of farming and rural life in Ireland at the Irish Agricultural Museum.

The Future for Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens

The Irish Heritage Trust is continually reinvesting in Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens to conserve and maintain this wonderful estate, and ensure that the experience offered to visitors and members continues to evolve, in ways that benefit the local community.

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