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Áras an Uachtaráin

Áras an Uachtaráin (pronounced Or-as on Ook-tar-on, formerly the Viceregal Lodge) is the official residence of the President of Ireland. Located in the Phoenix Park on Dublin's Northside, it began as a park ranger's residence, designed by park ranger and amateur architect Nathaniel Clements in the late eighteenth century.

Table of contents
1 Origins
2 Murder
3 Residence of the Irish Governor-General
4 Residence of the President of Ireland
5 The Ghost of Winston Churchill
6 See also
7 External link


It was bought by the Dublin Castle administration of the British Lord Lieutenant to become his summer residence in the 1780s, his official residence being the Viceregal Apartments in Dublin Castle. (Another house used as a summer residence is how the home of disgraced former Irish taoiseach (prime minister) Charles J. Haughey in Kilsealy in North Dublin.) Renamed the Viceregal Lodge the house in the park later became the Lord Lieutenant (also known as the Viceroy') 'out of season' official residence, where he lived for most of the year, except for the Social Season (January to St. Patrick's Day in March) when he lived in state in Dublin Castle.

Phoenix Park used to contain three official state residences. The Viceregal Lodge, the Chief Secretary's lodge and the Under Secretary's Lodge. The Chief Secretary's Lodge is now the residence of the United States Ambassador to Ireland, while the Under Secretary's Lodge served for many years as the Apostolic Nunciature.


Various visiting British monarchs stayed in the Viceregal Lodge, notably Queen Victoria and George V. In 1881, its grounds became the location for a famous murder, when the Chief Secretary for Ireland (in effect Prime Minister in the British administration in Ireland), Lord Frederick Cavendish, and the Under Secretary (chief civil servant), F .H. Burke, were stabbed to death with surgical knives by a small terrorist group called the Invincibles, while walking back to the residence from Dublin Castle. The Lord Lieutenant, the 5th Earl Spencer (an ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales) heard their screams from a ground floor window.

Residence of the Irish Governor-General

In 1911, it underwent a large extension for the visit of King George V and Queen Mary. With the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, the office of Lord Lieutenant was abolished. The new state planned to place the new representative of the Crown, Governor-General Tim Healy in a new smaller residence, but because of IRA death threats, he was installed in the Viceregal Lodge temporarily. It remained the residence of the Governor-General of the Irish Free State until 1932, when the new Governor-General, Domhnall Ua Buachalla, was installed in a specially hired private mansion in the southside of Dublin.

Residence of the President of Ireland

It was left empty for some years, until the office of President of Ireland was created in 1937. In 1938, the first President, Douglas Hyde was moved in there temporarily while plans were made to build a new presidential palace in its grounds. But the outbreak of World War II saved the building, which had been renamed Áras an Uachtaráin (meaning house of the president in the Irish language) from demolition, as plans for its demolition and the design of a new residence were put on hold. By 1945 it had become too closely identified with the presidency of Ireland to be demolished, though its poor condition did require extensive demolition and rebuilding of parts of the building, notably the kitchens, servants' quarters and chapel.

Since then it has undergone occasional bouts of restoration. The first president, Douglas Hyde lived in the residential quarters on the first floor of the main building. Later presidents moved to the new residential wing attached to the main house that had been built on for the visit of King George V in 1911. Mary Robinson in 1990 however moved back to the older main building. The current occupant, Mary McAleese lives in the 1911 wing.

The Ghost of Winston Churchill

Though not as palatial as many European royal and presidential palaces, with only a handful of state rooms (the state drawing room, large and small dining rooms, the President's Office and Library, a large ballroom and a presidential corridor lined with the busts of past presidents, and some fine eighteeth and nineteenth century bedroom above, all in the main building). Áras an Uachtaráin is a relatively comfortable state residence. It has been claimed that the ghost of a small boy, believed to be a young Winston Churchill, has occasionally been seen running about the building; Churchill grew up there as a child, where his grandfather the Duke of Malborough was Lord Lieutenant. It was supposed to be one of young Winston's favourite places.

Some historians have claimed that its Garden front portico (which can be seen by the public from the main road through the Phoenix Park) was used as a model by the Irish architect who designed the White House. However the portico was built after he had left for the United States. (He did however use what is now the Irish parliament house, the Duke of Leinster's old Dublin palace, Leinster House as a model for the White House. Its first and second floors - or what Americans would describe as its second and third floors - are an identical model for the ground and first floor - or in American English, first and second floor - in the White House, with the state dining room in the White House where the Irish Senate is located, in the former ballroom of the Duke of Leinster.)

Visitors to the building include Presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, all of whom were of Irish descent. So too was another frequent visitor, Princess Grace of Monaco and her husband, Prince Rainier III. King Baudouin of the Belgians, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia have also visited, as did Pope John Paul II. Recent visitors include Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Guests do not normally stay at the Áras; though it has ninety-two rooms, many are used for storage of presidential files, for household staff and official staff, including military aides-de-camp, a Secretary to the President (somewhat equivalent to Chief of Staff in the White House, except it is a permanent civil service position) and a press office. The Irish state recently opened a guest palace nearby in Farmleigh, a former Guinness mansion.

Áras an Uachtaráin is now open for free tours every Saturday.

See also

External link