Johnstown Castle & Gardens is in Wexford and is incredibly easy to find. The Castle is 19th Century in date, even though the Estate dates back to the 11th Century when an English family called the Esmondes settled in the area shortly after the Norman invasion in 1169. The castle now houses the Agricultural Museum, a museum with an installation about the famine and a huge toy car collection. It really is worth visiting. Sadly, the Castle itself was closed on the day we were there, however, there is so much to see that our visit was incredibly interesting anyway. I will be back to this location in the future, as there are numerous photo opportunities available.
Another tour I took part in during the Summer of Heritage was one of Monkstown Castle. I was very familiar with this building, so I was curious as to learn about the history of the ruins. The first castle built here was built by the Cistercian Monks of St Mary’s Abbey at the centre of a large farm between the 14th and 15th centuries. When King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1539 Monkstown had a number of owners, including some high profile people in Irish history. The Cheevers family (a French Norman family who also owned both Dalkey Castle and Bullock Harbour Castle), General Edmund Ludlow (Cromwell’s Master of the Horse in Ireland) and Michael Boyle, Primate, and Lord Chancellor of Ireland. This castle evolved from being a functional building to being a more grandiose residence. The Cheevers had the castle taken off them by Henry VIII, they had it returned to them later on, they moved back in for a while, but finally left it permanently. Today however, all that remains is the gatehouse and the 3 story tower, which once formed one side of a large hall. The tree you see in the bottom image was shown on a map of the area in the 1700’s.
Another day, another place to visit, this time it was Emo Court in Laois. I have been to Emo Court a few times in the past and it is always worth a visit. Today, we took the house tour, stopped for tea and Lemon Cake and then walked around the lake. The water levels in the lake was very low, die to the good weather and lack of rain that we have had for the last number of months. We watched the swans, ducks and moorhens swimming around on the lake and eating the bread they were been fed by the visitors to the Estate. The house has an interesting history and presently is hosting an Exhibition of Fr Frank Browne’s Photography, which is fascinating on it’s own merits. I have attached photos from the interior and exterior of the House, as well images of Fr Browne’s camera and a chest full of his negatives.