Johnstown Castle in County Wexford wins the crown – The Irish Times


It’s a bright and busy day on a visit to Johnstown Castle in County Wexford. Recent statistics from Met Éireann crown the site of the 19th-century castle as the sunniest place in Ireland. It had the highest annual sunshine total in the last five years, with a daily average of 4.35 hours per day in 2021.

Most dramatically, perhaps, Met Éireann’s annual climate statement for last year found the highest daily sunshine hours recorded in 2021 was 15.3 hours at Johnstown Castle on Saturday 17 July and at Valentia Observatory in County Kerry on Friday, June 30.

The sunny south-east has well earned its name and reputation as the most temperate corner of Ireland. “Johnstown Castle generally has the highest recorded annual sunshine hours of any of our sunshine recording stations,” says Met Éireann meteorologist Paul Moore.

“Over the past five years, Johnstown Castle has logged 1,587 hours in 2021; the second highest was Cork Airport with 1,520,” he says.

By comparison, annual sunshine totals were lowest at Malin Head, County Donegal, at 1,237.6 hours, but Cork Airport and Casement Aerodrome in County Dublin competed with the Johnstown castle in the sun stakes in recent years.

Ireland’s sunniest spot is not only home to a neo-Gothic castle, but also some 120 acres of gardens, woodland and lakeside walks. The picturesque open space – coupled with as much sunshine as Ireland can get – attracts visitors all year round. This makes the historic site, which also houses the Irish Agricultural Museum, a major tourist attraction for the area, says Matt Wheeler, curator of Johnstown Castle and Museum.

June is probably one of the best months to visit, “because everything looks its best,” Wheeler says, adding, “You can see the seasons change throughout the year.”

Wexford’s relatively mild year-round climate is a bonus, he says. Rare rainy days aren’t too much of an impact, but extreme weather in either direction isn’t particularly helpful.

“Luckily the weather doesn’t affect us too much unless we have a very wet day. This would have an impact on the visitor walking through the door. If it’s a generally mixed day, with some sunshine and a few showers, that doesn’t affect us as we have the indoor and outdoor attractions.

“At the beginning of this year, we had a succession of storms. When we have strong winds we close the site because it is too dangerous with all the trees. So this would have a negative effect on our business as we cannot open if we receive weather warnings for winds.

“Because we are in County Wexford and have beautiful beaches on our doorstep, if it’s really hot say 25+ which doesn’t happen often people naturally prefer to go to the beach .”

The site attracts locals and visitors, including groups of active retirees, national coach tours and international visitors, who come individually or as part of group tours.

The generally sunny habitat is also attractive to local wildlife, Wheeler says.

“Here we catch bees. There are wild bees living on the buildings here and we try to catch them and take care of them, and they take care of us and provide us with honey which we sell in the store.

In addition to bees, peacocks, foxes, rabbits and hares are regularly seen on the estate.

“Here we detect all the different animals on the estate. We have these wildlife cameras that work day and night. Every time an animal walks past it triggers the camera and since we scattered them around the estate and settled in 2015 we have detected every Irish land mammal on the site here.


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