WORK is due to start next month on a €7.5 million project to restore and open Johnstown Castle to the public.
Shared by Teagasc in partnership with the Irish Heritage Trust and the Irish Agricultural Museum with the help of €7.5 million in government funding, it will see conservation works carried out on the three floors of the castle to make it safe and accessible before it becomes open to the public.
An interpretive centre with information on the castle's history and local stories will be positioned behind the agricultural museum next to a new carpark.
The overall plan also includes new entrance arrangements. At present, there is one entrance used for the state agencies based on the castle grounds, while another is used by visitors to the castle.
Officials said contractors were due on the site in October, with completion due next year.
In 2015, Teagasc issued a public tender looking for a visionary partner to come on board with them to re-imagine the future of Johnstown Castle. The Irish Heritage Trust was announced as the successful applicant.
Officials at Johnstown said contractors were due on the site in October, with completion of the project due next year.
Meanwhile Teagasc is to apply for planning permission for a circa €5 million redevelopment of its ageing laboratory complex at Johnstown.
Carl Richards, the head of the research department at Teagasc, said the new laboratory complex would add to the existing labs that were built in the 1970s.
'Things have changed in terms of international best practise for labs and we need to bring ours into the 21st Century,' Mr Richards told this newspaper.
'This will enable us to do our research to the highest level, with the best international practise and investigate new research areas in terms of sustainable farming,' he said.
'When we get permission to proceed we will go out to tender for what is the largest investment in research facilities we have had since 1970. However, we have no clear funding mechanism in place within Teagasc at the moment so it might take a year or two in terms of funding,' said Mr Richards.