Johnstown Castle Honours WW1 Legacy with Restored Stained Glass Window

Historically significant stained-glass window dating back to the First World War has been unveiled.

Crafted in 1920 by the esteemed stained glass manufacturing company Earley & Co. of Camden Street, Dublin, the 6ft x 11ft window depicts a scene from the resurrection of Christ. It was originally housed in the Church of Ireland Rathaspeck Church, linked to the Johnstown Castle Estate.

Unfortunately, the window fell victim to vandalism in the mid-1980’s. Dr. Austin O’Sullivan of the Irish Agricultural Museum at Johnstown Castle rescued the shattered remnants in 1985 ensuring its preservation and preventing further dereliction.

The panels and fragments lay safely stored at the Irish Agricultural Museum until 2023 when the Heritage Council provided crucial grant support – through its Community Heritage Grant Scheme, to the Trust. This support enabled the painstaking restoration work to commence under the skilled hands of stained-glass window conservator Colette Langan of Irish Stained Glass.

Window Restoration Project

The restoration project, spanning approximately six months, was a labour of love and dedication. Collaborating with Matt Wheeler, General Manager at Johnstown Castle, Colette researched the missing window pieces to authentically recreate lost sections. She said: “Embarking on the restoration of the magnificent windows was both a privilege and a formidable task. Unravelling the mystery of the missing elements in these previously vandalised windows proved to be quite an enigma.

Through diligent research and collaborative efforts, we not only deciphered what the original quotation was, we also meticulously restored other
significantly damaged areas, liberating this timeless masterpiece from its storage crate.”

The restored window now graces the wall of the Flag Hall of the Castle. I can be admired on daily guided tours of the castle where visitors get to connect with its poignant history.

Historical Significance

The window commemorates Gerald FitzGerald and his cousin Desmond. Gerald was the only son of Lord and Lady Maurice FitzGerald of Johnstown Castle. Desmond Otho Paget was a cousin of the FitzGerald family. Gerald, serving with the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards, fell in battle in France in September 1914 at the age of 28. Desmond, serving with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, met his fate in March 1918 at the tender age of 18.

Matt Wheeler, commenting on the project said, “It has been a fascinating project to work on and we are very grateful to the Heritage Council for backing it and helping to bring this important memorial back to life for all to appreciate. This remarkable restoration project has breathed new life into a significant piece of Johnstown Castle’s history, bringing it back to its former glory. This truly is a resurrection project.”

Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens is open 7 days a week.

Why Irish Heritage Conservation Matters

Heritage conservation matters because it helps safeguard the cultural, historical, and natural assets that help define us. It contributes to property and locality while fulfilling our responsibility to protect and pass on this heritage to future generations.

At the Irish Heritage Trust, we are committed to preserving Ireland’s rich built and natural heritage. Caring for the property since 2019, the Irish Heritage Trust has undertaken substantial conservation and restoration works at Johnstown Castle.  Every time you visit, attend an event or purchase a gift or snack, you are helping contribute to this work.

Window RestorationLangan Stained Glass

FundingHeritage Counil Community Heritage Grant Scheme

Photography & Video – Digicol Media

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