Turrets and Airships

Take a short ten minute drive from Wexford town centre along the road to Kilmore Quay, and you will find a rather beautiful castle with gorgeous grounds and an unusual history. Johnstown Castle is not so well known outside of the local area, but well worth a visit on a sunny day.

johnstown castle, wexford, ireland, esmond, daniel roberston, travel, irish agricultural museum, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

The castle itself is not open to the public; it is currently being used as offices but there are rumours of plans to open it in the future. Nevertheless, there is still plenty to see and do here. The grounds themselves are spectacular; created in the 1830s by Daniel Robertson, a Kilkenny architect famed for his work at Powerscourt Gardens in County Wicklow. Here at Johnstown, he created a mirror-like 5 acre lake with fairytale Gothic towers rising from its waters. When I happened across the first tower it was all I could do to stop myself dashing to the top, braiding my hair and calling for a prince to rescue me.

johnstown castle, wexford, ireland, esmond, daniel roberston, travel, irish agricultural museum, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

The mature woodlands turn up all kinds of surprises, filled with unexpected specimens such as giant redwoods and Monterey cypress alongside more traditional rhododendron, beech, oak and fir. Stroll the lakeside along the statue-lined terrace walk or picnic in the company of peacocks in the sunken Italian gardens. Keep exploring and you will find waterfalls, an old melon yard, a cemetery and most exciting of all, a woodland garden surrounding the ruins of a more ancient castle contained within the grounds, the medieval ruins of Rathlannon Castle. It’s quite wonderful to see how these grounds have maintained their majesty; they have quite a history, home to the prominent Esmonde family before being confiscated during Cromwell’s reign. The estate changed hands many times, even serving as a base for airships during World War I…

johnstown castle, wexford, ireland, esmond, daniel roberston, travel, irish agricultural museum, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney, airship

…before being gifted to the Nation in 1945.

The castle’s estate outbuildings have been repurposed by the current proprietors, Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority of Ireland ) to house the Irish Agriculture Museum, where you can learn time-honoured methods of crop cultivation, butter churning, poultry and dairy farming, and experience the changing face of traditional country kitchens over the years. I didn’t have a chance to explore the museum when I was there but next time I visit, I will try to drag myself away from the tranquility of those gorgeous gardens for long enough to see the kitchens of yore.

johnstown castle, wexford, ireland, esmond, daniel roberston, travel, irish agricultural museum, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney


About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - wheresmybackpack.com - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
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24 Responses to Turrets and Airships

  1. aj vosse says:

    That looks stunning!! A must visit… now I wonder what the challenge will be?? 😉 Castles and milkmaids?? 😀

    • ailsapm says:

      It’s gorgeous, AJ, well worth a visit. So I couldn’t resist a little nod to Friday 13th for this week’s challenge. Not a castle or a milkmaid in sight! I’m saving those for a future challenge. 😉

      • aj vosse says:

        I’m scared sh…..less!! The jitters have me wanting to pierce that fellow Valentine with a garlic laced bottle of unholy whiskey and water!! Boo hoo hoo!! 😉

  2. The towers remind me so much of WInterfell in The Game of Thrones series 🙂

    • ailsapm says:

      Haha, I love it, now you’ve mentioned it I will never be able to look at the castle again without hearing the theme tune for GoT. 🙂

  3. joannesisco says:

    Stunning! How wonderful to discover such an old castle so well restored … and I think it would make working in an office a bit more interesting 🙂

  4. Mary says:

    Wow, what an amazing place.

  5. joanfrankham says:

    It looks amazing, looking out over the water. I must visit sometime I am down that way.

  6. Love the photos and history of this building. Wow! Would love to see it!

  7. Rapunzel’s original castle? 🙂 A fascinating landmark to visit, makes me homesick for Europe.

  8. A gorgeous post, Ailsa, but I wish I could visit in person!

  9. Heyjude says:

    Now that looks like one solid building with great grounds to wander around.

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  11. Great photos. An interesting post too – love the history

  12. I love a good castle. And there’s nothing quite like an Irish castle.

  13. Oh I wish I coyld have seen this one when I was there! Gorgeous!

  14. Gorgeous pic of the castle and the lake. I too would have wanted to braid my hair and wait for the prince 🙂

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