Johnstown Castle is a gem of gothic revival architecture, but it is only in the last few years that it has been open for the public to enjoy.
The castle, which lies just ten minutes away from Wexford town, was donated 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 Castle 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, and the Irish Agricultural Museum was opened in the estate’s farm buildings by President Patrick Hillery in 1979.
Opening to the Public
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 Irish Heritage Trust has been working with Teagasc, the Irish Agricultural Museum, and the local community to fulfil that remit.
In October 2015, the Irish government announced it would provide €7.5 million for the development of Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens. 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 has used this funding to undertake the vital conservation and development work that underpins the compelling visitor experience now on offer across Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens. As a non-profit organisation, it will continue to reinvest in the Johnstown Estate – its conservation and the experience it offers to visitors – in close partnership with the local community around the castle.
Carrying On the Legacy of Agricultural and Food Production Innovation
Teagasc – Ireland’s agriculture and food development agency – continues to work at the Johnstown Castle Estate, carrying out important and innovative research to assist Irish agriculture and food production. Teagasc is joined by the Environmental Protection Agency, which also carries out research that benefits Irish farmers.
A New Visitor Experience at Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens
Careful conservation work was accompanied by the development of a new visitor centre, a new Lower Lake walk, and a woodland play area. Access was improved with new parking and entrance arrangements, and in Summer 2019, Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens 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.
The Future for Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens
The Irish Heritage Trust will continuously reinvest 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.