Our featured member for August is Johnstown Castle Estate. The estate is a member of our Garden and Heritage Trails and it is home to three major attractions, the Gothic Revival Castle, the Irish Agricultural Museum and the extensive Gardens. Today we are taking a closer look at the glorious gardens, with more to follow on the Castle and Museum.

Johnstown Castle (Wexford Trails)

Immerse yourself in beauty, nature and Ireland’s fascinating heritage, with a trip to Johnstown Castle Estate, which is only a short drive from Wexford Town. Marvel at the majestic fairytale Castle, which overlooks acres of ornamental gardens, sculptured walks, woodlands, and three lakes, all teeming with native flora, fauna and wildlife. 

The Gardens

The existing Johnstown Castle gardens and lakes were developed by the Grogan family in the 19th century, with the help of renowned garden designer Daniel Robertson. Robertson’s impressive work can also be seen at the Powerscourt Estate in Wicklow and at Wells House (another Wexford Garden Trail member) near Gorey.

Photo Courtesy Johnstown Castle Estate

Photo Courtesy Johnstown Castle Estate

The 4 acre walled gardens and hothouses, which were originally laid out between 1844 and 1851, are in the process of being lovingly restored by Head Gardener Ciarán Fitzgerald and his team, alongside over 100 local volunteers. Ciarán has also been overseeing the rewilding of Johnstown Estate, allowing select areas to be reclaimed by nature, and to develop into wild meadows. This rewilding not only helps to tackle climate change, but it also supports biodiversity at Johnstown. It is already yielding brilliant results, including helping to attract Essex Skipper butterflies to the grounds for the first time!

Garden Highlights

  • Meander through the grounds to explore the woodland garden and the recently extended lakeside trails.
  • Immerse yourself in the lush prairie planting of the Walled Garden, where the second phase of the new herbaceous border is starting imminently.
  • Become one with nature, as you relax in acres of native hay meadows.
  • Stroll lakeside paths that give you extraordinary views across the Castle’s gothic towers, the picturesque waterfall, follies, and statues.
  • Watch the friendly peacocks display their finery at the Castle and invite them to eat from your hand (bags of their favourite food are available at the Visitor Centre Reception for €2).
  • Enjoy the fully accessible 1.2km lower lake walk and the fun nature playground complete with thrilling zipline!
  • Bring a picnic to the sunken garden, where you can relax and enjoy the changing beauty of the garden throughout the seasons.

The Lakes

At almost 12 acres, the lower lake is the largest inland freshwater lake in Wexford. Dug out by hand in the early 1850s, it has become a haven for wildlife including waterfowl, otters and swans. The Castle Lake, or middle lake, was constructed in the late 1830s-40s as part of Hamilton Knox Grogan Morgan’s grand vision for the Johnstown Castle Estate. Around its edges you’ll find two follies, including a fishing tower and seven statues, which were completed at the same time as the lake. A third lake was constructed near the Walled Garden in the 1880s, for the Fitzgerald family.

Johnstown’s stunning gardens are immensely popular with locals and visitors alike, and they are well-worth a visit at any time of the year. One off tickets and membership packages are available. 

For more information please see our Garden Trail page or visit www.johnstowncastle.ie Johnstown Castle is also active on social media and is well-worth a follow for regular news, events (such as the fun Foraging Fridays which take place in the gardens) and updates on their ongoing projects. 

Facebook: @johnstowncastle 

Instagram: @johnstowncastle and @johnstowncastleheadgardener