Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Leinster House, the seat of the Oireachtas, Irish Parliament

The main gates on Kildare Street, Dublin

The main entrance through which members of government enter, and heads of State are welcomed.

Leinster House, the beautiful, almost palace-like complex which is the seat of Irish government (Oireachtas), has evolved over time, beginning with the vision of James Fitzgerald, the Earl of Kildare, whose plan it was to have built for him the most stately Georgian mansion Dublin had ever seen.

Within the complex are the two Houses of the Oireachtas (National Parliament), comprising the Dáil Éireann (the House of Representatives) and the Seanad Éireann (the Senate).

James Fitzgerald commissioned famed German architect Richard Cassels to build what would then be known as Kildare House.  Construction of the house took place from 1745 until 1747, in what was then an unfashionable area of Dublin known as Molesworth’s Field; however, just as the Earl foretold, the area around Kildare house soon became the most desirable in the city.  In 1776, when the Earl became Duke of Leinster, the house was renamed Leinster House.

It has been claimed that Leinster House was the model for Irish architect James Hoban when he created the White House. Born in county Kilkenny in 1762, Hoban studied architecture in Dublin, and would have had the opportunity to study the design of Leinster House.

In 1815 the third Duke of Leinster, Augustus Frederick, sold the mansion to the Royal Dublin Society for £10,000 and a yearly rent of £600.  The Society made extensive additions to the house, most notably the lecture theatre, which later became the chamber of the Dáil Éireann.

After the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, the new government took over part of Leinster House for parliamentary use.  The entire building was acquired by the State in 1924.

Evidently the architect Cassels did not foresee the brilliant future of this magnificent house, because in the inscription on the cornerstone he makes reference to the house one day being in ruins.  The Latin inscription translated to English reads as follows:

The house,

of which this stone is the foundation,

James, twentieth Earl of Kildare,

caused to be erected in Molesworth's field,

in the year of our Lord 1747.
Hence learn, whenever, in some unhappy day,

you light on the ruins of so great a mansion,
of what worth he was who built it,

and how frail all things are,

when such memorials of such men cannot outlive misfortune.


Click on photographs to view larger versions.
All photographs Copyright©irisheyesjg2012. All Rights Reserved.

7 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mac, you know why your comment was deleted. Enough said.

      Delete
  2. Such a beautiful building, and great photographs of it. I am surprised that people can walk right up to the front gate.

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    1. Hello Charlotte,

      Thanks for your comments; they are always appreciated. I too am surprised people can walk right up to the front gate. When I was in Dublin in September, there was a massive protest going on right at the main gates on Kildare Street but the crowd was not allowed to go right up to the gates.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  3. Powerful thought in that inscription.

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    Replies
    1. Hello Jacqi,

      Thanks for your comments. I always appreciate receiving them.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  4. Very impressive buildings. Thanks for sharing those photos.
    Colleen
    http://www.pasqualefamily.net/web/

    ReplyDelete

Comments on this blog are always deeply appreciated; however, in the spirit of true collegiality, I ask that you do not write something you could not say to me in person.

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Cheers, Jennifer

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