Sunday 8 December 2019

Information day at Johnstown Castle to address anger over charges

Johnstown Castle
Johnstown Castle

Maria Pepper

Currently undergoing a major €7.5 million restoration and improvement project, Johnstown Castle is holding a public information day this Wednesday, February 6 amid ongoing controversy over a decision to significantly increase entrance fees.

The event taking place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., was initially organised in response to the public backlash about admission price hikes but has been broadened to include information about the new facilities and job opportunities at the castle.

'We look forward to welcoming you throughout the day when we will be sharing these exciting plans and discussing upcoming job and volunteering opportunities as well as membership', said Anne O' Donoghue, CEO of the Irish Heritage Trust which is now managing the castle, museum and grounds on behalf of Teagasc.

A new visitor centre and 120-seat cafe are expected to be ready in early May when the doors of the Gothic Revival castle will be opened to the public for the first time, following essential repairs and electrical works.

Inside the castle, visitors will be able to walk through the 86 metre long servants' tunnel stretching from the original meat house to the castle basement and kitchens.

The improved facilities will include a new lower lake walk and a woodland play area.

According to the Trust, the current works at Johnstown will safeguard the castle's future and the membership fees will ensure the facility continues to thrive for the enjoyment of future generations.

However, the decision to increase entrance prices has received a negative reaction with angry complaints from councillors and members of the public, including comments on Johnstown's own Facebook page.

The new yearly membership prices are as follows: one adult, €47 (or a 20% discounted price of €37.60 before April 1); two adults (living at the same address), €80 (or €64 until April 1); concession (OAP/student) €40 (€32 before April 1), family of two adults and four children under 16, €140 (€112 before April 1); child (Under 16, €15 (€12 before April 1); children under five are free.

Daily tickets for entrance to the gardens and museum cost €9 for an adult (with €4 extra for a castle guided tour); child aged 5 to 16 years, €4 (with €2 extra for castle); concession for OAP or student, €7 (with extra €3 for castle); family of two adults and four children, €24 (with €11 extra for castle). Daily admission is free for children under five.

Membership entitles visitors to unlimited entry to the castle, museum, gardens and seasonal events as well as free entry from April 1 into two other Heritage Trust sites-Fota House and Gardens in Cork and the National Famine Museum in Strokestown, County Roscommon.

The Trust says a substantial amount of work remains to be done in Johnsown and the priorities in the coming years will include the improvement and upkeep of the lake walks and ornamental 19th century gardens. Johnstown boasts the largest inland lake in County Wexford.

'This is just the beginning of the next chapter of Johnstown Castle, Estate, Museum and Gardens and we hope that many people will find ways to get involved and help us care for and share it with everyone, said Ms. Donoghue.

The CEO said there will be many volunteering opportunities at Johnstown including tour guiding, gardening and visitor services with people invited to give as little or as much time as they wish.

Volunteers at Fota House and Gardens brought the walled gardens back to life by growing and selling produce and plants to support the gardens, a project which won a European Union Cultural Heritage Award in 2015.

Wexford People

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