New visitor centre opened in Johnstown
A new visitor centre and cafe was unveiled this week in the courtyard of newly-restored Johnstown Castle which is now open to the public for the first time in its history following an €7.5 million heritage investment.
The cafe located inside a new entrance to the castle grounds has seating for 120 people with an additional 60 seats on an outdoor terrace overlooking the lower lake which has been made accessible to the public.
A new 1.5km Lower Lake Walk has been created, most of which also opened to the public this week with the remainder due to become accessible when a bespoke woodland playground for children is completed on the path at the end of August.
From the restaurant terrace, diners can listen to the sound of a waterfall which is hidden behind the trees.
The €7.5 million cost of the visitor centre and castle restoration was funded by the Department of Agriculture and Fáilte Ireland.
The castle and grounds and the Agricultural Musuem are now managed by the Irish Heritage Trust.
The Lower Lake Walk has cost €850,000 and was funded under the Rural Regeneration Scheme of the Department of Rural and Community Affairs.
The reception and ticket desk are located inside the new entrance with visitors proceeding from here into the grounds through the foyer of the Irish Agricultural Museum and former Peacock Cafe where a new interpretive area is planned.
Guided tours of the restored castle, including an 86-metre long servant's tunnel, the longest in Ireland,need to be booked in advance. No booking is required for the ornamental gardens and walks or the Agricultural Museum which provides a nostalgic journey through Irish farming and social history.
An extensive shop in the visitor centre is specialising in local crafts and products with ranges from the Wexford Craftmakers and photographic prints of the castle and grounds by Paula Malone Carty already on the shelves.
Johnstown's General Manager Brenda Comerford said anyone who has Wexford products that they would like to be considered should email email@example.com.