A secret room has been found in the 800-year-old Johnstown Castle in Ireland

The secret chamber is the latest discovery in County Wexford, Ireland’s castle, where restorations on the site also revealed a secret chamber under another lakeside tower last year.

Secret room in Johnstown Castle

Irish Heritage FundThe chamber may have been closed centuries ago due to a “tragedy”.

Johnstown Castle in County Wexford, Ireland, seems like a place of secrets. The massive, Gothic, and over 800-year-old castle is practically bursting with intrigue. Recent restoration work is beginning to shed its mysteries – and has just revealed a forgotten, centuries-old room.

“It’s a really amazing find,” said Ann O’Donoghue, executive director of the Irish Heritage Trust. Central Irish. “It is very unusual to find additional hidden treasures on heritage properties and this is the second time this has happened at Johnstown Castle after our discovery of a secret room under the tower in the loch just last year.”

As reported by the BBC, the secret room was discovered by a carpenter who was working on one of the castle’s windows. After breaking through a section of the wall, the contractors found the hidden little room, which had apparently been mysteriously sealed off some years earlier.

but why? The warden of Johnstown Castle, Brenda Comerford, speculated that some unspecified tragedy might have something to do with it.

Johnstown Castle in Wexford

Johnstown CastleJohnstown Castle is over 800 years old and seems to contain its fair share of secrets.

“This room has been covered up for a very long time. It’s part of one of the towers and looking around, on initial inspection, we think it’s probably a small tower bedroom,” Comerford explained. “There is a tragic family history associated with Johnstown Castle, so this room could have been closed due to a tragedy, that could have happened in the past, who knows? We’ll need to investigate this further.”

As reported by the BBC, the original castle dates back some 850 years. It was held by a rotation of aristocratic families for centuries before it was taken over by the Irish state in 1945.

These families included the Esmonde family, who built the original castle after the Anglo-Norman invasion in 1169, and the Grogan family, who took possession of the castle after the Esmondes were driven out by Oliver Cromwell, according to the Irish Agricultural and Food Development Authority.

Under their ownership, the castle suffered one of its most high-profile tragedies. At the end of the 18th century, Cornelius Grogan was hanged by the British for participating in the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Despite this, the Grogan family managed to retain ownership of the castle.

Cornelius Grosjean Monument

David Hogood/Wikimedia CommonsThe execution of Cornelius Grogan is one of the most notorious tragedies at Johnstown Castle.

They have continued to develop the castle grounds, turning it into a stunning site that visitors can see today.

But there are many parts of Johnstown Castle that visitors don’t see – and even experts are surprised by the discovery. After the castle was opened to the public in 2019, the Irish Heritage Trust launched a “major” conservation and restoration effort which has so far revealed two secret chambers.

Having found the secret room under the lake tower, and now the secret room in the castle tower, those involved in the restoration are curious as to what they will find next.

“We’re discovering secrets all the time here at Johnstown Castle,” Comerford noted Central Irish“It is thanks to the support of our visitors and our members of the Irish Heritage Trust and the Ministry of Heritage who are providing funding so that we can carry out restoration work and secure the future of the castle.”


After reading about the secret room discovered at Johnstown Castle, look at these stunning photos of McDermott Castle, the Irish castle that holds a spooky secret. Or check out Dunluce Castle, the windswept castle ruins on the coast of Northern Ireland.

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