Monday, 12 October 2015

Johnstown Castle


LORD MAURICE FITZGERALD (1852-1901), second son of the 4th Duke of Leinster, married Lady Adelaide Jane Frances Forbes, daughter of the 7th Earl of Granard, in 1880.

Lord Maurice was Lord-Lieutenant of County Wexford, 1881-1901; officer in the Royal Navy.

JOHNSTOWN CASTLE, near Wexford town, has been home to two prominent County Wexford families.

The first owners were the Esmonde Baronets, a Norman family who settled in the county in the 1170s.

They constructed the tower houses at Johnstown and Rathlannon during the 15th or 16th century.

During the Cromwellian period of 1640s the estate was confiscated and changed hands several times before being acquired by John Grogan in 1692, whose descendants remained at Johnstown up until 1945.

Following the death of H K Grogan-Morgan, Johnstown passed to his widow, who married as her second husband, the Rt Hon Sir Thomas Esmonde, 9th Baronet, a descendant of the original owners.

The demesne afterwards passed to Grogan-Morgan's daughter Jane, Countess of Granard; and eventually to Lady Granard's daughter, Lady Maurice FitzGerald.

The old tower house was the home of Cornelius Grogan, who was unjustly executed for treason after the 1798 Rebellion.

By 1863, Johnstown Castle estate was at its peak of development and comprised of a large demesne of over 1,000 acres.

It was divided in two with a deer park to the north, and the castle, pleasure grounds, home farm and two lakes (with a third lake under construction) to the south.

In 1945 Maurice Victor Lakin presented Johnstown Castle estate as a gift to the Irish state.

Today Teagasc, the Irish Agricultural and Food Development Authority, owns Johnstown Castle estate and has a research facility on site.

The Irish Agricultural Museum is housed in the old stable and farmyard buildings of the demesne.

Burke's guide describes Johnstown as being,
An old tower house of the Esmondes, engulfed in an impressively turreted, battlemented and machiolated castle of silver-grey ashlar built about 1840 for H K Grogan-Morgan MP, to the design of Daniel Robertson, of Kilkenny.

The entrance front is dominated by a single tower with a porte-cochere projecting at the end of an entrance corridor and a Gothic conservatory at one end. The garden front has two round turrets, a three-sided central bow with tracery windows.
First published in November, 2011.  Leinster arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

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