Latest News & Events

The Irish Agricultural Museum and Johnstown Castle Gardens will be closed today Sun 18 March due to severe weather warning. We hope to reopen tomorrow as normal.

The museum and castle gardens will be closed tomorrow  (Thurs) and Friday. We hope to reopen on Saturday if weather conditions permit.

Johnstown Swift Project

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A swift enters one of our specially designed boxes.

High up the courtyard walls are specially designed nest boxes for swifts. Swifts, like swallows and house martins, arrive in the spring after a long journey from Africa before departing in August (earlier than swallows). Unlike swallows and house martins, swifts never land and continually fly 24 hours a day – they are the fastest bird in the world in level flight and can fly up to 10,000 ft at night to sleep on the wing! The only time they land is when they nest and produce their young.

After the young birds have fledged, they make their first migration to Africa and don’t return until here they are at least two years old. They then look for a partner but may not breed and nest for another year or so.

Swifts tend to nest in holes in walls or buildings but modern building regulations mean that potential nesting places for them have dwindled – hence, why we’re trying to give them a helping hand. We had no interest in our boxes in 2012 but in 2013 we had a pair nest in the left hand box. They produced one chick which fledged on 7 August. In 2014 the same pair produced two chicks both of which fledged successfully and three fledged in 2015 and 2016.

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Swift on nest as seen from mini box cam.

The first of our swifts have now returned. We will update their progress on this page with our diary as well as our Facebook page.

Swift Diary 2017:

2 May:  One of the Box 4 swifts from last year arrives back.

6 May:  First swift from Box 1 (our established breeding pair) returns.

7 May:  Second Box 1 swift returns so our breeding pair are now reunited.

10 May: Second of the Box 4 swifts arrives back.

15 May:  Box 1 pair produce their first egg.

16 May:  Box 1 pair produce second egg.

17 May:  Box 1 pair produce third egg.

20 May:  Incubation of Box 1 eggs begins.

22 May:  Box 4 pair produce their first egg.

23 May:  Box 4 pair produce second egg and start incubation.

5 June:  Box 1 – 1st chick hatches out.

6 June:  Box 1 – 2nd chick hatches out.

11 June:  Box 4 – 1st chick hatches out.

12 June:  Box 4 – 2nd chick hatches out.

14 July:  Group of 7 screaming round courtyard.

16 July:  Box 1 – first swift fledges.

18 July:  Box 4 – first swift fledges.

20 July:  Box 1 – second swift fledges.

22 July:  Box 4 – second swift fledges.

So, four swifts successfully fledged this year. A total of 13 swifts have now fledged since our project started.

2016 Results:

29 April:  First swift seen in Co Wexford.

4 May:  Breeding pair return to their usual nesting box (Box 1) on far left. A week earlier than last year.

12 May: Pair produce their first egg.

13 May: Pair produce a second egg.

15 May: Pair produce a third egg.

16 May: Incubation of eggs begins.

30 May: A new pair fly into Box 4 (right hand box) together.

3 June – 5 June: Three swift chicks hatch out in Box 1.

2 July: First chick fledges.

11 July: Second chick fledges at 8.45am.

21 July: Third swift fledges.

22 July: Adult birds depart nest box.

For more info on swifts in Ireland go to:-


Three swift chicks

Our three swift chicks of 2015.



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