Looking for fun things to do with kids in Wexford? Discover a bygone era at the sympathetically restored Johnstown Castle, a spectacular gothic Castle in Wexford. It was built in the 1170’s and gifted to the nation in 1945. Now run by The Irish Heritage Trust, Teagasc and the Irish Agricultural Museum, you can have a family day out and enjoy these 10 fabulously fun things to do with the kids while you are there.
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#1. Have A Picnic In A Sunken Garden
The spectacular ornamental grounds at Johnstown Castle Estate were designed by Daniel Robertson. Have a fun family stroll through them taking in the walled garden, gothic towers, lakes, statues, wildlife, plants and trees. And afterwards go to the Italian Sunken Garden to enjoy a picnic.
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#2. Watch Peacocks Strut Their Stuff
Peacocks roam freely in the grounds of Johnstown Castle Estate. If you watch them closely you may just see them fan their colourful tail feathers, a sight not to be missed.
You can also enjoy a delicious treat in the aptly named, Peacock Tea Room open year round to enjoy hot and cold drinks and snacks.
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#3. Identify Who Is Who in Apostles Hall
How well do you know your Apostles? Have fun putting that knowledge to the test when you enter the castle through Apostles Hall and are met with an array of wood carvings depicting different bible scenes.
The Apostles Hall is just one of 8 newly restored rooms that you can visit on your castle tour. Please book tours in advance, as they are popular and can often sell out.
#4. Find A Bath In a Tower
How fun would it be to have your bath in a tower! When you visit the Lady’s Chamber, bedroom of Lady Fitzgearld, the last descendant of John Grogan, who acquired the Johnstown Castle Estate in 1692, to reside in the castle, you will find her bathing chamber, situated in one of the beautiful towers that adorn the castle.
#5. Have An Upstairs Downstairs Experience
Have an upstairs downstairs experience when you explore the 86 metre servants’ tunnel. Fun as it may be to explore, this tunnel was built to enable workers to enter and leave the castle without being seen by visiting gentry or the family living in the castle.
A visit to the tunnel is part of the castle tour, which should be booked in advance as tours are popular and can often be booked up.
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#6. Investigate Different Beds People Slept In
A visit to the Irish Agricultural Museum, housed in the estate grounds, is a must. The museum is home to one of the most comprehensive displays of farming and rural life in the country. Including a vast collection of restored tractors, carts, ploughs, diary equipment, furniture, kitchens and much more.
Children will love investigating the different beds that people slept on down the years. I think you’ll agree, they certainly don’t look as comfortable as those we have today!
Visitors can also visit authentic workshops that have been recreated for blacksmiths, coopers and wheelwrights.
#7. Find Castle Ruins
The ruins of Rathlannon Castle are to be found in the grounds of Johnstown Castle Estate, within the deer park. It is believed to be the oldest surviving Esmonde family Castle in Ireland. See if you can find them!
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#8. Discover The Hiding Places For Birds and Bats!
The Irish Agricultural Museum building is a nursery roost for one of the largest colonies of Soprano Pipistrelle bats in the country. Each Spring the female bats return to roost, produce and rear their young. The highest count of bats in residence was in May 2017, when 734 bats were counted!
The courtyard at the museum is also home to the Johnstown Swift Project where specially designed nest boxes for swifts like swallows and house martins have been erected to give a home to these birds. They return annually to nest and have their young.
You will have to be eager eyed to spot a swift as they are the fastest bird in the world when they are in level flight!
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#9. Go On A Fairy Trail And Tree Hunt
Did you know there are more than 200 species of trees and shrubs in the parklands surrounding Johnstown Castle? Take the kids on a fun tree hunt and see how many you can identify. And be sure to look out for fairies along the way!
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#10. Take Part In Quizzes And Trails
Both the castle and the museum offer quiz and trail sheets for children and families to follow when they visit. Be sure to get yours and learn more about the history, inhabitants, plants, wildlife, statutes, waterways and fun places to discover at this amazing location.
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Over to you now. Have you visited Johnstown Castle Estate yet? Please let us know your favourite fun thing to do with the kids at Johnstown Castle in the comments box below.