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Job Opportunities at Johnstown Castle

We currently have an exciting opportunity for an experienced General Manager to join our team at Johnstown Castle, Estate, Museum and Gardens, Wexford. He/she will be responsible for operating and developing a dynamic visitor attraction and delivering a high-quality visitor experience while increasing visitor numbers and income.

The closing date for applications is Friday 22nd February 2019. Click here for the job description and to apply.

A number of other opportunities will be available in the coming weeks including a Head Gardener at Johnstown. More information to follow. If you are interested please email recruitment@irishheritagetrust.ie


JOHNSTOWN CASTLE TO OPEN IN 2019

A brand new visitor experience at an ancient heritage attraction in Ireland’s south-east is set to open to the public in 2019. Johnstown Castle, Wexford’s greatest surviving country estate, is currently home to the Irish Agricultural Museum in the estate’s stable yard – providing a nostalgic journey through Irish farming and social history. To date, however, the Gothic Revival castle itself has never been open to the public; this is all set to change as the new Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens experience is to open to the public in early May 2019.

The Irish Heritage Trust, an independent charity, was announced in 2015 as the successful applicant to work with Teagasc, the Irish Agricultural Museum and the local community to develop a new and exciting visitor experience at Johnstown Castle which includes the famous Daniel Robertson Ornamental Gardens.

At present, the €7.5 million project works are underway at Johnstown with an entirely new ‘3 in 1’ attraction set to be unveiled at the castle, museum and gardens. A new visitor centre is being built in the castle courtyard including an extensive shop specialising in local products and a 120 seat café with terrace. The castle at Johnstown is undergoing conservation works required to allow public access and to safeguard the castle’s future including essential repairs and electrical work. The castle tour will include the adjoining 86 metre original ‘servants’ tunnel’, believed to be the longest in the country and also opening to the public for the first time.

Commenting on the progress at what is set to be one of Ireland’s foremost tourist attractions, Anne O’Donoghue, CEO of the Irish Heritage Trust said, “Johnstown Castle is a hugely significant building of national importance and we look forward to bringing it back to life.  This is a hugely exciting addition for Irish Tourism and Ireland’s Ancient East and is set to be one of Ireland’s foremost tourist attractions.

 The Johnstown visitor experience will also offer access to the stunning lower lake area to meander and explore, a new playground, as well as new parking and entrance arrangements with ample car and coach parking. Charming garden walks will be available in the tour experience as well as the existing Irish Agricultural Museum. The Museum’s exhibitions explore the collection of folk, farming, rural history and objects from the turn of the 18th century until the middle of the 20th century.

“This is a vast and exciting project at Johnstown and we are delighted to be completing this initial phase of work. We, along with the Irish Heritage Trust look forward to providing a warm welcome to all our visitors both returning and new to this wonderful
‘3 in 1’ attraction in 2019,”
said Tom Doherty, Chief Operations Officer of Teagasc.

 The Irish Heritage Trust was established in July 2006 as a joint initiative between government and the voluntary sector. The Trust has had great success in developing other heritage projects and bringing places to life over the years including Fota House and Gardens in Cork and Strokestown Park and The National Famine Museum, Roscommon.  

The works taking place inside Johnstown Castle and the construction of the new visitor centre are wide-ranging and continue apace; despite this, the works do not impact the facilities currently open to the public. The Irish Agricultural Museum and Tearoom along with the Johnstown Castle Gardens, Shop and Tea Room will be open until 4 pm daily (November - February).

 

 


John Smith Barry Returns Home to Fota House

JOHN ‘THE MAGNIFICENT’ SMITH BARRY RETURNS HOME TO FOTA HOUSE

The homecoming of the long-lost portrait of John ‘The Magnificent’ Smith Barry was celebrated in August.  The painting was jointly acquired by Fota House in collaboration with the Royal Cork Yacht Club (RCYC) when it was auctioned at Chiswick’s auction house in London earlier this year.

 “We at Fota House & Gardens are delighted to have collaborated with our friends at the RCYC in welcoming home this small but significant painting of John Smith Barry during National Heritage Week”, said Victoria Tammadge, General Manager, Fota House & Gardens. “It is John that we have to thank for giving us the house that we know today as he had a huge impact on Fota House. We look forward to sharing this wonderful piece of Cork’s history at Fota for everyone to enjoy,” she continued.

In the early 1800s John Smith Barry (1793‐1837) extended Fota House from a hunting lodge with the help of architects Richard & William Morris into the stunning regency mansion you see today on the magnificent estate on Fota Island. The painting was restored by fine art conservator Justin Laffan and will hang at both Fota House and the RCYC in Crosshaven on an alternate basis.

John was one of five children to his hugely wealthy father James Hugh Smith Barry and mother Ann Tanner (whom James never married). John inherited Fota, however, due to his illegitimate status he could not inherit the title of Earl of Barrymore.  John was a very keen sailor, and joined the soon to be Royal Cork Yacht Club in 1812. He was made Vice Commodore in August 1833 and Vice Admiral in 1834. His 90 ton yacht Columbine won the King’s Cup at Cowes Week in 1835. In the painting we can see John in the library of Fota House wearing the RCYC uniform of the time with Columbine in near full-sail in Cork Harbour sporting the RCYC pennant on her main mast.

In 2017, Justin Laffan expertly restored five works from the Fota collection and restored three more paintings live at Fota House during Heritage Week thanks to the Heritage Council’s MSPI Caring for Collections Grant scheme 2018. Go to the Fota website to learn more www.fotahouse.com.

 


CLARE MCGRATH NEW CHAIRMAN OF IRISH HERITAGE TRUST

Dublin, 15th January 2018: The Irish Heritage Trust today announced the election of Clare McGrath as its new Chairman. Ms McGrath brings a wealth of experience in the fields of heritage and management to the Trust following a distinguished career in public service. Her knowledge of the heritage sector in Ireland is combined with a passion for the inclusive strategic approach to share authority and benefit the communities that surround the Irish Heritage Trust’s historic properties.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead the Irish Heritage Trust into this exciting period of development. Over the last eleven years, the Trust has successfully demonstrated ways to create greater public benefit by developing new ways of operating. This is visible at Fota House & Gardens (Cork), which is now financially secure and brought back to life with vibrant participation initiatives and significant community support,” said Ms McGrath.

Ms McGrath qualified as a barrister from King’s Inns and in 2003 was appointed as a Commissioner in the Office of Public Works (OPW), the first woman to join its Board within its then 170-year history. Clare was appointed Chairman of the OPW in September 2009 and remained in that role until her retirement in late 2016.

Clare McGrath succeeds James Osborne who died in August 2017 and who served on the Board since the Trust was established in 2006 and had been Chairman from 2012.  “I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the work of James Osborne who was committed to the Trust for over a decade, the last five years as Chairman.  He energetically led the Trust and had a particular interest in encouraging business to get involved and match the support and commitment made by local communities to Trust properties,” she continued.

In addition to acquiring Fota House in 2007, the Irish Heritage Trust became responsible for Strokestown Park and the National Famine Museum (Roscommon) in 2015 and is partnering with Teagasc and the Irish Agricultural Museum to undertake conservation work and develop a new and exciting visitor experience at Johnstown Castle, Estate and Gardens (Wexford) in 2019. The Trust is based in No. 11 Parnell Square, Dublin and is working in partnership with Poetry Ireland to open up the property for public access through the creation of the Poetry Ireland Centre.


What was Christmas in the past really like?

We are so lucky at the Trust to have properties where traces of Christmas past still remain. At Strokestown Park the focus is on a ‘Victorian Christmas’, greenery is brought in from the estate to ‘deck the halls’ and one tree is decorated with original Victorian candle holders left by the Pakenham-Mahon family. At Fota we know what life was life both above and below stairs on Christmas Day. On Christmas morning the family went to church and delivered Christmas gifts to their tenants. For lunch on Christmas day, the family served themselves a cold lunch (one of the few times they served themselves at lunch or dinner) while the servants ate their Christmas dinner downstairs. In the evening the family changed into fancy dress costumes that they kept in a big trunk in the attic. At exactly 8 o'clock they returned downstairs and the servants assembled in rows at either side of the hall and bowed to each family member as they went past into the Dining Room (was this a show of deference or was it to play along with the fancy dress theme?) The family would then drink from a loving cup and eat their lavish dinner.  Their dinner usually consisted of a humungous turkey and all the trimmings plus of course a Christmas pudding made the previous Christmas, so that it was extra rich and dark. Once finished eating they played games in the Library late into the night.

You can hear more about Christmas at Fota here where Patty Butler, Fota's former maid recalls her Christmas memories.

You too can experience the magic of Christmas in the 'Big House'! Why not book:

The Magic of Santa at Fota House or

Victorian Christmas at Strokestown Park

Merry Christmas from Fota House & Gardens & Strokestown Park, and from everyone at the Irish Heritage Trust.


Children house tour Fota House

NATIONAL HERITAGE WEEK AT FOTA HOUSE & STROKESTOWN PARK

National Heritage Week 2017 takes place from 19th to 27th August. At Fota House and Strokestown Park we have an exciting schedule of events lined up for the week.  Come and engage with your heritage!

With free admission all week, Fota House Arboretum & Gardens will operate a busy programme of events, including 'Restoration in Practice' with Justin Laffan, a Baroque concert in the Gardens, dedicated children’s tours and much more.

Strokestown Park offers a range of activities including a talk on the hidden 17th century Chapel and plans for its conservation. There will be free access to the walled garden on the 26th of August as well and Poetry and Folklore walking trails. 

Please check the Fota House and Strokestown Park websites for more information.


Minister Heather Humphreys Jim Callery Strokestown Park House Irish Heritage Trust

MINISTER HUMPHREYS VISITS STROKESTOWN

In September, Heather Humphreys - the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs - joined a women’s history event at Strokestown Park House titled “Revolutionaries in their own Right: Irish Women in War and Revolution”.

The event took place in the historical setting of the Galleried Kitchens at the House and was using the unique and wonderful contents of Strokestown House and the archive, along with its authentic streetscape, to bring history to life. A tour of Strokestown in 1916 was conducted by local school students who have created a unique piece of public history.

“The town of Strokestown, the Irish National Famine Museum and Strokestown Park House together form a very special place and a unique heritage asset and it’s wonderful to see them being used for such a fascinating event about the changing roles and lives of women during the decade 1912-22,” said Minister Humphreys.  “On behalf of my Department, I would like to wish everyone at Strokestown Park and Famine Museum every success as they continue work with the Irish Heritage Trust to improve this wonderful place in the coming years for everyone to enjoy”, she concluded.

“We are delighted to see Minister Humphreys here today at Strokestown Park and Famine Museum and to show her the wonderful community participation at such a significant national heritage property”, said Kevin Baird, CEO of the Irish Heritage Trust, a charity which has been operating the property since 2015. “This is the result of a fruitful partnership between the Irish Heritage Trust and Roscommon County Library Services, one of a number of Decade of Centenaries offerings where we have worked in partnership with local communities”, he continued.


Johnstown Castle Teagasc Irish Heritage Trust

OPEN DAYS AT JOHNSTOWN CASTLE

We were delighted to host the “Johnstown Open Days” with Teagasc and the Irish Agricultural Museum during the summer.  The public were invited to see what is happening at the wonderful Johnstown Castle, which is just outside Wexford town. Hundreds of people enthusiastically came through the doors of the Castle over two days. They enjoyed hearing about the exciting plans for the future and there was plenty of goodwill and support for this project, which includes a new visitor centre.  As it is such a large property, the work is happening in phases.   

In the meantime, the beautiful grounds are open all year round as well as the Irish Agricultural Museum which houses exhibitions designed to display and explore the collection of folk, farming, rural history and objects from the turn of the 18th century until the middle of the 20th century.
Read more


Heritage Week

Heritage Week

Heritage Week will run from the 20th to the 28th August. Both Strokestown Park House and Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens are running a series of events in the Gardens and the house.

For more information Click Here!