Johnstown Castle

Location:Johnstown Castle Estate, Wexford
Client:Irish Heritage Trust & Teagasc
Architect:C.J. Falconer & Associates

Tom O’Brien Construction were tasked with this monumental multi–million-euro conservation & restoration project, to bring this wonderful Castle back to life from a state of total disrepair into a Public Museum through a vast and breath-taking scope of works. The castle estate, museum and gardens, since its official opening in 2021 is now open to the public for the first time following a €7.5 million investment jointly overseen by the Irish Heritage Trust and Teagasc.

We are proud to be one of the Country’s select few Members to the prestigious Register of Heritage Contractors Ireland. Registered Heritage Contractors are skilled companies that have demonstrated they have the knowhow and experience to deliver the traditional building trades for the careful Conservation and Restoration of Important Heritage properties or sites. At Tom O’Brien Construction, we’re passionate about saving, taking care of and improving some incredibly important historical buildings throughout the country for others to enjoy. We take great pleasure in giving these iconic buildings a new lease of life.

Johnstown Castle in County Wexford is a hugely significant ancient building of National importance, with origins dating back to the 12th Century. Occupied for one night by Oliver Cromwell, and most recently lived in by the Grogan Family until 1945. Since the successful completion of this project by Tom O’Brien Construction, Wexford’s greatest surviving country estate, never before open to the public, has become one of Ireland’s foremost tourist attractions and a gem for Ireland’s Ancient East.

Conservation works involved the complete, meticulous restoration of the entire three floor over basement Castle. The cast scope of works included;

The restoration of an extremely rare original 86 metre long underground servants’ tunnel, believed to be the longest in the country. Each of the 1,000+ original limestone flags were lifted, repaired and replaced following a major renovation of the tunnel.

Historically important decorative plasterwork and cornicing was repaired throughout by our Master Craftsmen.

Problems with dampness due to water ingress over the decades had become great and were found to have significantly degraded the mechanical and electrical installations in the Castle, which were replaced and upgraded throughout, including the complete upgrade of fire and security systems, which was paramount for making the Castle safe for visitors.

The roof required a major overhaul along with the repair of drainage elements and cast ironwork rainwater goods throughout.

Major internal plastering works were carried out using a traditional lime plaster to consolidate and conserve areas of historic internal plasterwork. Portions of the Castle’s Historic stone exterior were raked and repointed using traditional methods accurately matching the castle’s original exterior. All modern internal plaster and pointing both externally and internally that contained cement was removed and replaced with traditional lime-based materials to facilitate the breathability and flexibility required for such a structure while at the same time affording protection against the weather.

Particular attention was placed on fireproofing the structure and to that effect we were responsible for the oversight of the overall buildings fire integrity.

Tom O’Brien Construction were tasked with repairing decorative ceilings, joinery and floors throughout.

Careful demolition works were carried out on all floors to facilitate the installation of a new passenger lift serving all four floors including basement level.

Tom O’Brien Construction also ensured the building met all current access and egress regulations, required for the buildings imminent opening this summer as a public museum. All works were carried out under the Principal of ‘Minimal interference’ to ensure as much of the building’s original integrity as much as practicable.



  • Award of Excellence – 31st Annual CIE Awards
  • British Guild of Travel Writer’s International Tourism Awards – Nominated
  • Leinster Visits Merit Award – CIE Awards


Photos by Frank McGrath & Patrick Browne

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