WWI Stained Glass Window Restored at Johnstown Castle

Stained glass window dating from the First World War unveiled at Johnstown Castle in Wexford.

Johnstown Castle has unveiled an historically significant stained glass window restoration project at the property. Originally housed in Rathaspeck Church, linked to Johnstown Castle Estate, the window depicts a scene from the resurrection of Christ. It was originally crafted in 1920 by stained glass company Earley & Co of Camden Street in Dublin.

The stunning stained glass window fell victim to vandalism in the early 1980’s and the glass was badly damaged. Fortunately, Dr. Austin O’Sullivan of the Irish Agricultural Museum at Johnstown Castle rescued the shattered remnants preventing further dereliction.

Historical Significance

The window holds profound significance as it commemorates two young lives lost in World War I. They were Gerald FitzGerald, the only son of Lord and Lady Maurice FitzGerald of Johnstown Castle, and his cousin Desmond Otho Paget.

Gerald served with the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards. He died in battle on 13 September 1914 at the age of 28. Desmond served with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and died in March 1918 at the tender age of 19.

The Restoration Process

Since 1985, the panels and fragments lay safely stored at the Irish Agricultural Museum. In 2023, with crucial grant support provided by the Heritage Council Community Heritage Grant Scheme, painstaking restoration work commenced. This work of art has now been restored to its former glory under the skilled hands of stained-glass conservator Colette Langan.

Working from her studio in Co. Leitrim, Colette collaborated with Matt Wheeler of the Irish Heritage Trust at Johnstown Castle. She and her team meticulously researched missing pieces of the window to authentically recreate the lost sections.

Furthermore, as the original window lead was deteriorating, it was stripped down, releaded and cemented. The restoration project was a labour of love and dedication spanning approximately six months.

Matt Wheeler said “It has been a fascinating project to work on and we are very grateful to the Heritage Council for helping to bring this important memorial back to life for all to appreciate. This remarkable restoration project has breathed new life into a significant piece of Johnstown Castle’s history. It truly is a resurrection project.”

The impressive 6ft x 11ft window now graces the wall of the Flag Hall at Johnstown Castle and can be admired as part of daily castle tours.

Why Irish Heritage Conservation Matters

Caring for the property since 2019, the Irish Heritage Trust has undertaken substantial conservation and restoration works at Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum and Gardens .  These include the original works to restore and reopen the house, significant garden and glasshouse restoration projects and most recently restoration of the castle windows. 2023 also saw the completion of the east wing events centre and works are also underway at the Head Gardeners House.

Irish heritage conservation helps restore and safeguard cultural and historical assets, such as this stained glass window. Now a stunning feature within the Castle, this work of art shares it’s story from the past with visitors and future generations.

Window ConservatorLangan Stained Glass

FundingHeritage Council Community Heritage Grant Scheme 2023

Photography & Video – Digicol Media

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