JOHNSTON, JOHN 
- Born: - Died: 1812
Architect. John Johnston was no relation of FRANCIS JOHNSTON , as the latter pointed out in a letter to J.N. Brewer, written in 1820.(1) In the first decade of the nineteenth century he helped Sir Laurence Parsons design Gothic alterations and additions to Birr Castle, Co. Offaly;(2) Girouard concludes that he did 'little more than make working drawings based on the sketches of his employer'. He also designed the Church of Ireland church at Birr, which was begun in 1810 or 1811 and completed after his death in 1812. He is probably the same person as the John Johnstone who signed a plan and elevation of Reymond Cottage for John O'Neill (created Baron O'Neill in 1793) on his demesne at Shane's Castle, Co. Antrim.(3) Bence Jones identifies the 'Johnson' to whom the 'new and handsome mansion' at Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny, is attributed by Tighe,(4) as John Johnston. He may also be the John Johnston for whom John Russell and John Prendergast built No. 7 Belvedere Place, Dublin, in 1797.(5)
All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from M. Girouard, 'Birr Castle, Co. Offaly - II', Country Life 138, 4 Mar 1965, 469.
(1) 'A letter from Francis Johnston', BIGS 6 (no. 1), Jan-Mar 1963, 4; letter of 10 Jan 1979 from R. Wingert, 16 Windrush Way, Solent Heights, Hythe, Hants, to E. McParland states that Johnston was the grandson of a master mason who worked on the building of Prior Park, near Bath, that he worked with Gandon and also, after he had finished at Birr Castle, with A.W. Pugin; as A.W. Pugin was born the year Johnston died, presumably A.C. Pugin is meant but even this seems unlikely (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(2) Drawings by Johnston for the porch, saloon, hall and entrance gate are in the Birr Castle archives (photographs in IAA); these drawings include one for offices at Birr Castle, signed 'P[e]r E. Johnston 1790'. Was there a connection between the two Johnstons?.
(3) Reproduced in E. Malins & the Knight of Glin, Lost Demesnes: Irish landscape gardening, 1660-1845 (1976), Pl. 87; the drawing must date from before O'Neill's elevation to the peerage in 1793 rather than from c. 1810 as captioned.
(4) William Tighe, Statistical Observations relative to the County of Kilkenny made in the years 1800 and 1801 (1802), 588.
(5) Bryan Bolger Papers, NA PRO 1A 58 126 (Letter J, Box No. 15).
5 work entries listed in chronological order for JOHNSTON, JOHN 
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|Building:||CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, BELVEDERE PLACE, NO. 007|
|Nature:||Bryan Bolger measures work, 13 Apr 1797, at new house, built by John Russell and John Prendergast for a John Johnston.
Bryan Bolger Papers, NA PRO 1A 58 126 (Letter J, Box No. 15)
|Building:||CO. KILKENNY, CASTLECOMER HOUSE|
|Nature:||'Lady Ormonde has in a spirited manner completed and fixed her residence in a new and hansome mansion, on the site of that destroyed in the late rebellion: Johnson was the architect'.|
|Refs:||William Tighe, Statistical Observations relative to the County of Kilkenny made in the years 1800 and 1801 (1802), 588 (identified as John Johnston by Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 64, but why not Richard Johnston?)|
|Building:||CO. OFFALY, BIRR CASTLE|
|Nature:||Gothic alts. & adds, including saloon and entrance gate, with Sir Laurence Parsons.|
|Refs:||Drawings in Birr Castle archives (photographs in IAA); 'A letter from Francis Johnston', BIGS 6 (no. 1), Jan-Mar 1963, 4; M. Girouard, 'Birr Castle, Co. Offaly - II', Country Life 138, 4 Mar 1965, 469.|
|Building:||CO. OFFALY, BIRR, CHURCH OF ST BRENDAN (CI)|
|Nature:||New. 'The church, erected in 1815[sic], by aid of a loan from the Board of First Fruits, is a handsome edifice in the pointed style of architecture, with a steeple 100 feet high.'(Lewis). Consecrated 1816. Cost £7,384.|
Samuel Lewis, A Topographical dictionary of Ireland (1837), II, 456; M. Girouard, 'Birr Castle, Co. Offaly - II', Country Life 138, 4 Mar 1965, 469; M. Girouard, 'The Irish town at its best: Birr, Co. Offaly', Country Life 139, 22 Jul 1965, 224(illus.),225(illus.),226; see also Rev. F.R. Bourke, The Church and Parish of St Brendan, Birr (1966), 8,9; Adrian Hewson, ed., Inspiring Stones: a history of the Church of Ireland Dioceses of Limerick, Ardfert, Aghadoe, Killaloe, Kilfenora, Clonfert, Kilmacduagh & Emly (1995), 77(illus.), 78; exterior illus. in Clergy of Killaloe, Kilfenora, Clonfert and Kilmacduagh (Ulster Historical Foundation, 2010), 41; exterior and interior illus. in Claude Costegalde & Brian Walker, The Church of Ireland: an illustrated history (2013), 392
|Building:||CO. OFFALY, KINNITTY, CHURCH (CI)|
|Refs:||MS 8821(6) (in NLI?) (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)|