The Leinster House is a must-visit place if you are looking for things to do in Dublin and most historical Dublin places. The house is, in fact, a complex which is still alive today. Extensions are being added and alterations are being made. Repair is a constant work, but none of those things has ever let the value of the place dwindle. There is a lot to see in this amazing building. The central dome of this house inspired the designs of the American White House. That is the kind of influence that this place has had in the past and it still continues to have in the present.
Leinster House Design and Construction
It was Richard Cassels who designed this building. The German-born architect however, used, as his inspiration, the buildings of England and Ireland of that era. The projecting bow that marks the north side of the building is renowned to be the inspiration for the projecting bow on the entrance of the White House. There is a likelihood to that rumor, because Hoban, the architect of the White House was an Irish person. That is perhaps why visiting this house is one of the best things to do in Dublin.
The History of Leinster House
Originally, the house was name as Kildare House. It was commissioned by James Fitzgerald between 1745 to 1747. James Fitzgerald was the Earl of Kildare, hence the name. the mission was to build the most magnificent of town houses in Dublin and its vicinity. He purposefully chose an ill fashioned area of Dublin for the house, but with his efforts and with his designs in place, he helped to bring about a transformation of that area. Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square later became favorite areas for the aristocracy later on. The house was renamed as the Leinster House in 1776 when the Earl became the Duke of Leinster. The Irish Parliament has held its sessions in a number of different places and houses in history. The house was bought for that purpose in 1924, but it is still pending the approval, the proper political establishment of an Irish Parliament and renovation to become fit for the job. The Leinster House is one of those places. In the history, Leinster House was unmatched in its grandiose scale and in the beauty of the establishment. In 1815, Augustus Fredrick, who was the third Duke of Leinster sold the house to the Royal Dublin Society for 10,000 pounds upfront and a further rent of 600 pounds. The society’s mission was to improve the conditions in which the people od Dublin lived. In that regard, and to meet that aim, the society used this place for many important projects, and that gave rise to some significant institutions that are still operating to this date. Some of the institutions include: The National Botanic Gardens, the National College of Art and Design, the Dublin Veterinary College, The National Library, and the National Museum. They society also vehemently upgraded the establishment by incorporating lecture halls and libraries to the construction.
What makes Leinster House special
There are many sites to see in and around the house. It is packed with details and statues which are sure to rouse anyone’s curiosity. Many of the original monuments have stood against the trials of time. Among these, there is a large seated bronze statue of Queen Victoria, which was made by John Hughes and Unveiled in 1908 by King Edward VII. However, later on, the statue was removed and shifted to the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, and now it stands in Sydney. On the Garden front, the building also has a triangular monument. It commemorates three founding figures of Irish Independence. President of Dail Eireann: Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins, Chairman of Provisional Government and Kevin O’Higgins, who was the Vice-President of the Executive Council. There is yet another statue in the gardens that attracts visitors. It commemorates Prince Albert, who was the husband of Queen Victoria. The Prince frequented this house. In fact, he hosted his Irish Exhibition in the Lawns of this house.
Leinster House Today
The Leinster House has seen extensions and redesigns in the past. These extensions date as far back as the Victorian era, and as recent as the Leinster House 2000. However, here are some of the major extensions that have contributed to the house’s current layout and position.
- Victorian era: Dail Chamber was established as an addition to the overall complex.
- 1930s: new houses were built to host TDs and senators of Labor Party
- 1966: Block 66 was incorporated into the building. It is a five-story office building. It hosts the TDs and senators from Fine Gael. Also, on the ground level, there are 2 bars and 2 restaurants. This building has both the residences and the meeting rooms of Fine Gael party.
- 2000: Leinster House was also constructed. This is a millennium wing, constructed in lieu with modern trends. It has office suites, offices, meeting rooms and committee rooms. This building houses members of all parties.
Leinster House Highlights
- beautiful Palladian style residence built in the late 18th century
- Used as a model for the US White House
- Visited by John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan
- A painting of the first meeting of Ireland’s Dail (parliament) hangs in the building
- A copy of the Irish proclamation of Independence is feayired and can be seen in the magnificent main hall
- The main hall holds paintings of many leading Irish political figures
- Some of the portraits include Michael Collins, Eamonn De Valera
Inside the Leinster House Building
The interior of the Leinster House is fairly in good shape, considering the fact that this building has been around for more than 2 centuries. The senate and the upper house are located in the bow fronted library. The Dail is located inside a lecture house which was built by the Royal Dublin Society.
Leinster House Tours
Leinster house is open for public. You can visit the house of Parliament. There are two ways to do it:
- You can ask a TD or Senator to sponsor your visit
- you can visit on a public tour
Public tours are available on days when the Dáil and Seanad are not sitting @ 10.30 am and 2.30 pm. You can book your tour in advance or enquire at the visitors’ entrance 15 minutes before the tour time.
/ 01 618 3271 / 01 618 3781 Sponsored tours
Contact your local TD or Senator
- Admission: Free
- Tour Duration: approximately 20 minutes
- Capacity: max 30 people per tour
- Photography: is not allowed
Information for visitors
- Bring photo ID, such as a passport or driving license
- Arrive @ the Kildare Street gate 15 minutes before your appointment or tour
- Avoid bringing large bags
- Notify if you have any special requirements such as disability access
- Security arrangement: if you do not hold a valid Oireachtas pass-card, you’ll be asked to walk through a metal detector and your bags will be scanned with an x-ray.