Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Johnstown Castle


LORD MAURICE FITZGERALD (1852-1901), second son of Charles, 4th Duke of Leinster, of Carton House, County Kildare, married, in 1880, the Lady Adelaide Jane Frances Forbes, daughter of the 7th Earl of Granard, and had issue,
GERALD HUGH, his heir;
Geraldine Mary; Kathleen; Marjorie.
Lord Maurice, Lord-Lieutenant of County Wexford, 1881-1901, was succeeded by his son and heir,

GERALD HUGH FITZGERALD (1886-1914), Captain, 4th Dragoon Guards (Royal Irish), who wedded, in 1914, Dorothy Violet, daughter of Spencer Calmeyer Charrington (of the famous brewing family), though the marriage was without issue.

Captain FitzGerald was killed in action during the 1st World war.

JOHNSTOWN CASTLE, near Wexford town, is a spacious, castellated mansion, built entirely of Carlow granite, and equal in beauty and magnificence to many of its ilk in the British Isles.

It occupies the site, and embodies one of the towers, of a very ancient structure.

Immediately adjoining it is a fine lake, formed at huge expense, decorated at its edges tastefully and closely overlooked at the margin by several turrets of carved stone.

The mansion 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 until 1945.

Following the death of Hamilton 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 subsequently passed to Grogan-Morgan's daughter Jane, Countess of Granard; thence 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.

The demesne occupies a hollow at the head of a fertile valley, a brief distance from the base of a picturesque mountain.

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.

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