Johnstown Castle - Wexford Guide and Directory, 1885

About “Wexford County Guide and Directory,” 1885

George Henry Bassett produced 7 Irish county directories in the 1880s: Antrim, Armagh, Down, Kilkenny, Louth, Tipperary and Wexford. Each provides useful history of the respective counties as well as lists of office holders, farmers, traders, and other residents of the individual cities, towns and villages.

Read more »

The directories are naturally an invaluable resource for those tracing family history. However, there are a few points to bear in mind.

  1. This online version of Bassett’s Wexford County Guide and Directory is designed primarily as a genealogical research tool and therefore the numerous advertisements in the original book, many full page, and quite a few illustrated, have been excluded.
  2. The text has been proofed with due care, but with large bodies of text typographical errors are inevitably bound to occur.
  3. Be aware that there were often inconsistencies in spelling surnames in the 19th century and also that many forenames are abbreviated in Bassett’s directories.

With respect to the last point, surnames which today begin with the “Mc” prefix, for example, were often formerly spelt as “M‘,”. For a list of some of the more common forename abbreviations used in the directory, see Forename Abbreviations.

Show less

MANY comprehensive glimpses may be caught of the Barony of Forth, the Forth Mountain, and the sea, on the road to Johnstown Castle, which is about three and a quarter miles English from Wexford. The Protestant (I.C.) church and burial ground of Rathaspeck are found on the left within a quarter of a mile from the Castle. A number of tombstones, bearing well-known Wexford names, are observable from the road. Between the Church and Castle gate is the “Haha” Rath, a slice of which has been taken off to accommodate the road, in spite of the fell apprehensions as to the consequences attending such acts. The story runs, that the workmen who built the road having made up their minds to christen the mound, and not being able to agree upon a name, decided to leave it to the first comer. This was a girl, who replied to their enquiries with a laugh, and the jocular cognomen has remained to the present day, notwithstanding the fact that many of the country folk consider the task of passing that way at night anything but a joke.

The old castle gate, or the one nearest Wexford, was formerly a very picturesque structure with two castellated lodges, and an amount of well trained and trimmed ivy, unequalled in the whole county. One of these lodges has been re-modelled in a different style, and the ivy has been removed from lodges and walls.

From every point of view Johnstown Castle is a beautiful piece of architecture. Its position is on comparatively low ground, and the style light, as becomes a building which is well sheltered. The porch is exceedingly fine, with gothic arches and groined roof, and above it is a graceful tower. A drive around the northern end leads to the border of the lake, from which, with the water as a foreground, the best view of the Castle may be obtained. Between it and the shore is a landscape garden.

Johnstown Castle is in part a restoration, though the ancient portion is so enriched with additions and modifications as to be unrecognisable. It was built by the Esmondes, who came to Ireland in the latter half of the tenth century. For several hundreds of years it was the stronghold of a warlike race. On the occasion of Cromwell’s visit to Wexford, the Castle was dismantled and left in a ruined state. In the year 1683 the property was purchased by John Grogan, of Yorkshire, from the Cromwellian soldier whose portion it had become. In 1783, while it was the seat of Cornelius Grogan, a grand military review was held on the estate, which included corps from all parts of the Counties of Wexford, Waterford, and Kilkenny. Extensive improvements were begun by the late Mr. Grogan-Morgan, whose pleasure it was to continue indefinitely beautifying what by nature was already charming. These improvements were continued on a large scale by his widow, afterwards the wife of Sir Thomas Esmonde.

On the side of the lake opposite to the Castle is a ruined tower, well covered with ivy. The avenue proceeds through grounds which formerly contained a great number of fine forest trees, but are now thinly adorned with young growth, to the garden, a well terraced and favourably situated plot, with green-houses, graperies, and wall fruit in variety. The gate passed in emerging from the grounds is built of granite quarried on the demesne, as is the gate of the deer park. The back entrance is in the vicinity of Piercestown Chapel. The deer park contains 222 acres, and is well stocked. The estate is 936 acres. A small river flows through both.

Search for a copy of Bassett’s Wexford Guide and Directory, 1885