By Dan Walsh
The majestic redevelopment of historic Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum and Gardens, near Piercestown, a few kilometres from Wexford town were officially opened by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. yesterday (Thursday).
Minister McConalogue said: “I am delighted to officially open this national treasure and I congratulate all involved in recent years at Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum and Gardens in offering visitors the opportunity to become immersed in the story of Irish food, farming and family life, while providing a nostalgic journey through Irish farming and social history at the fascinating Irish Agricultural Museum.”
“We are so delighted to welcome today descendants of the former staff at the Johnstown Castle Estate to celebrate this special occasion, as bringing history to life is what we are passionate about,”said Anne O’Donoghue, CEO of The Irish Heritage Trust, who added; “We would also like to acknowledge the support of the local community including our wonderful team of 120 plus volunteers who have worked on many parts of the estate since 2019. We are also most grateful to our 7,600 plus members who have remained loyal throughout the challenges of the pandemic.”
Orla Carroll, Director of Product Development of Fáilte Ireland said; “It is wonderful to be in Wexford today to mark the official opening of Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens. This attraction, supported by Fáilte Ireland in partnership with Teagasc and The Irish Heritage Trust, will provide an additional draw to the South-East of Ireland for domestic and international visitors. The investment in and redevelopment of Johnstown Castle amplifies Ireland’s heritage tourism credentials, creates a new must-visit attraction in Wexford and reinforces Ireland’s Ancient East as a world-class destination.”
Chairman of the Teagasc Authority, Liam Herlihy said: “It is wonderful to see this new chapter in the story of Johnstown Castle. For many decades, the castle and grounds have been in the care and stewardship of Teagasc and its predecessor An Foras Taluntais. The scientific developments initiated here in the 1940s and ’50s were crucial for the agricultural and economic development of the early Irish state. The new exhibition in the Castle, in the former research labs, is a timely reminder and celebration of this contribution across the decades. The scientific contributions from Johnstown Castle now focus on the environmental sustainability of agriculture and are as important now as ever. It is very rewarding to see the success and popularity of Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens.
Johnstown Castle opened its doors to the public for the first time in 2019 exactly 850 years after the arrival of the Anglo-Normans to Wexford.
Situated in 120 acres, the historic property opened pre-pandemic following the completion of a €7.5million investment by Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine and Fáilte Ireland – which was overseen by the owners of the property Teagasc, the agriculture and food development authority, in partnership with The Irish Heritage Trust, an independent not-for-profit organisation.
This investment included conservation works in the Castle and enabled the estate to deliver a stunning destination visitor offering in Ireland’s South-east. The offering includes Castle tours, the re-opening of the 86-metre servant’s tunnel; the building of a world-class visitor centre and re-development works at the Irish Agricultural Museum and Daniel Robertson Ornamental Gardens along with unveiling 4km of stunning lake walks and the addition of a children’s playground.
Since 2019, Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens has proven a hugely popular visitor attraction and presently draws over 100,000 visitors per year with some 7,600 Irish Heritage Trust members enjoying the facilities all year round.
The Irish Agricultural Museum explores rural life in Ireland and houses a fascinating collection of nineteen permanent exhibitions. In the past year, the Museum has launched new exhibitions, including one about Pierce’s Foundry, Wexford’s world-famous industrial giant.