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This Georgian House was built in 1761 by Colonel Francis Forde and has since then been part of the backdrop of the rural scene of Ireland. Situated at the Southern Edge of County Meath, this Irish Country Estate has experienced several changes of ownership over the years, and in turn has incurred some changes in design.
The house itself was designed to suit the typical style of a “Country Gentleman’s House” and is set off by its location on high ground overlooking the river Blackwater. Facing the last setting sun of the year, the Hotel still retains the original 5 bay windows on the 3 storey block building, original gables and original chimneys. A design typical of many country houses built in that period.
However, it’s the beautiful architectural embellishments at Johnstown House that make it stand out, as there are features that are rarely seen in these types of country houses. The ornate front Banister Staircase of the early 18th Century, which is made finely worked freestone and Memel Pine, still stands today. The architectural highlights of the original house are still admired by visitors today; now used as the Hotel’s reception, the old dining room is full with character, with the ornate doors, architraves and the ‘rococo’ plasterwork ceiling. This Rocaille ornamentation of life portrays a beautiful scene with a bow and quiver with arrows, a bird swooping on a fly, a dolphin and also a boy playing the bugle. With these features still in perfect condition, it sets off the remainder of the Hotel’s design, as an 18th Century Country House.
The Johnstown House was once described as;
“a fine old residence, in good repair standing in the centre of a well situated, picturesque, and well-wooded demesne, laid out into convenient sized paddocks, well sheltered by hedge groves and plantations”.
The old paddocks have since been restored into the Coach House bar which retains the mahogany theme fashioned by the front staircase and antique furniture. Today, the house has been reconditioned back to its magnificent former glory, by building around the old house and accentuating some of the old original ornaments and furniture of its past which can be found in the primary reception rooms e.g. the Hotel Reception. Guests often marvel at the Hotel’s private Dining and Meeting rooms which are original to the House and exhibit the original moulded ceiling cornices, centrepieces and solid mahogany heavily panelled doors. Some of these reception rooms are named after a previous owner of the Estate. For example the Prendergast Suite, as the Prendergast family owned the property for the longest period of time, from 1928-1985.