Located in the heart of Wexford, Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens offers a captivating experience for history enthusiasts, nature lovers, and families alike. With its rich 800-year-old history, this attraction has plenty to offer visitors seeking a delightful day out.
What’s to See?
A guided tour of the 19th-century castle provides an opportunity to appreciate its stunning architecture and sumptuous interiors. As you explore the grand halls, a knowledgeable guide will share fascinating stories of the castle’s past residents. One unique feature worth checking out is the servants’ tunnel, the longest domestic servants’ tunnel in Ireland, which offers a glimpse into the lives of those who worked behind the scenes.
Johnstown Castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens with over 5km of serene lake walks and a splendid array of flora and fauna. The enchanting woodland children’s play area is a delightful spot for families, while the new 1.5km lower lake walk is fully accessible, making it suitable for all visitors, including those with mobility challenges and furry friends.
Irish Agricultural History
The Irish Agricultural Museum, housed within the castle grounds, offers a comprehensive collection of farming-related machinery, vehicles, and artifacts dating back around 100 years. Exhibitions and recreated scenes provide a fascinating insight into the rural lives of past generations. A visit to the museum complements the overall experience at Johnstown Castle, adding an educational touch to the day’s adventure.
Here’s an overview of some of the available tours:
Daily Entry (Excluding Castle Tour)
Price: Adults – €9.00, Children (5-16) – €4.00, Family (up to 2 Adults & 4 children) – €24.00, OAP-Student – €7.00
This ticket grants you access to the stunning gardens with over 5km of lake walks, as well as admission to the Irish Agricultural Museum. With 20 exhibitions on display, you can explore the history of the estate, country kitchens, and more at your leisure.
Castle Tour & Entry to Estate
Price: Adults – €13.00, Children – €6.00, Concession (OAP-Student) – €10.00, Family (various options) – €35.00
Step back in time with a guided tour of the historic 19th-century Johnstown Castle, led by an expert who will share fascinating stories about the castle’s past. This ticket also includes admission to the gardens and the Irish Agricultural Museum.
Evening Bat Walks
Price: Bat Walk Adult – €13.00, Bat Walk Child – €8.00, Bat Walk Concession – €10.00, Bat Walk Family – €35.00, Bat Walk Member – €7.00
For a unique experience, join one of the evening bat walks led by bat conservationist Harm Deenen. Learn about the various bats that inhabit the Johnstown Estate and why the castle is so special to them. You’ll get to use a bat detector and discover how it helps identify bats by their calls. The bat walks are available on select dates, as of writing the next dates are:
- 27th April 2023 at 20.15 (SOLD OUT)
- 25th May 2023 at 21.00 (SOLD OUT)
- 29 June 2023 at 21.15
- 27 July 2023 at 20.45
- 31 Aug 2023 at 20.00
While there’s no need to book your visit to the gardens or Irish Agricultural Museum, it is recommended to pre-book the Castle Tours. Tours run daily at specific times, with slightly different schedules for the summer and winter seasons. To ensure a smooth experience, allow 10 minutes to walk from the Visitor Centre to Johnstown Castle for your pre-booked tour.
All the latest booking information and dates can be found here.
The History of Johnstown Castle
Johnstown Castle’s history spans over 800 years, with a fascinating tale that has seen the estate change hands and evolve through the ages. Its storied past is filled with intrigue, power struggles, and the contributions of various families who have left their mark on the estate.
The Esmonde Family Era
The story of Johnstown Castle begins in the 12th century when the Esmonde family, Anglo-Norman settlers, constructed the original castle on the site. The Esmondes played a significant role in the early history of Wexford, particularly in defending the region against Gaelic Irish attacks. Over the centuries, the Esmonde family expanded and fortified the castle, turning it into a stronghold that witnessed numerous battles and skirmishes.
The Grogan-Morgan Family Legacy
In 1692, the castle passed into the hands of the Grogan family when Cornelius Grogan married Anne Esmonde, the last surviving heir of the Esmonde family. Under the Grogan family’s ownership, Johnstown Castle underwent a series of transformations that shaped its present-day appearance.
In the early 19th century, John Knox Grogan commissioned architect Daniel Robertson to design the present-day castle, a magnificent Gothic Revival structure that replaced the original medieval fortress. The construction began in 1810, and the project was later continued by John’s brother, Hamilton Knox Grogan-Morgan. The castle was completed in 1855 and boasted lavish interiors, opulent decorations, and a remarkable servants’ tunnel – the longest of its kind in Ireland.
The castle’s enchanting gardens were also designed during the Grogan-Morgan era, featuring picturesque lakes, woodlands, and a vast array of flora and fauna. The family continued to reside in the castle until the mid-20th century.
The Transformation into a Public Attraction
In 1945, Maurice Victor Lakin, a relative of the Grogan-Morgan family, bequeathed the Johnstown Castle Estate to the Irish nation. The estate was initially used for agricultural research and education, with the castle serving as a research center. It wasn’t until the 21st century that Johnstown Castle was opened to the public as a museum and tourist attraction.
Johnstown Castle is easily accessible by car, located just a short drive from Wexford town. For visitors using public transport, there are regular bus services from Wexford to the nearby village of Murrintown, where it’s a pleasant walk or short taxi ride to the castle grounds.