Re: Re: Áras an UachtaráIn

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Michael J. OBrien

Graham you obviously have not been on the tour of the house yet as the OPW guides tell an interesting story about the trees at the front of the house. Orginally there were two trees planted by Prince Albert & Queen Victoria. I believe that Prince Albert’s died over a period of time. The second tree was planted by none other that the Pope John Paul II during his visit to Ireland.

The orginal Clement house was a Red brick house I believe. At the back of the house (the current front door) there was orginally no porch but a very interesting fanlight door which has been retained as part of the inner hall along with a barrel ceiling.

From the Áras website
There was major resistance to the use of Vice Regal Lodge as the official residence of the President. The power of the old associations still resonated throughout Irish society. Various houses were considered but found wanting. Particular attention was devoted to St. Anne’s in Clontarf, the former residence of Lady Ardilaun then occupied by Bishop Plunkett but when it was found that Dublin Corporation were negotiating with him for the acquisition of its gardens as a public park, the search continued elsewhere “Ashton” in Castleknock was considered and “South Hill” at Milltown but there was always some difficulty.

Finally, and with enormous reluctance, it was decided that Vice Regal Lodge would have to be used probably on a temporary basis. Its name was changed to Aras as Uachtarain and, in 1939, President Hyde planted a tree in the grounds, a symbolic act that initiated the new era that the house was about to experience as it became the permanent official residence of the Presidents of Ireland.

I for one am delighted that the Presidency remained in the Aras, alohough alas St Anne’s in clontaf met its own Waterloo. I think all that you have to do is visit nearby Ashtown Castle where they started to knock the third major house in the Park (20th century Papel Nunico’s house) only to discover a castle in the middle of it. Does anyone have a picture of this house?

I think it is a pity that there isn’t further promotion of the buildings within the Phoenix park as now there is almost an archectitural trail with the Aras, Ashtown & Farmleigh. Hoping some day the OPW will eventually restore the Magazine Fort buildings in the Park too. There are also some wonderful lodges throughout the park which I always think would make wonderful tea rooms.

One final interesting fact about the Irish Presidency that is not well published. DeValera apparently approached, the O’Brien, Lord Inchiquin, the apparent direct dessendant of Brian Boru, the last High King of Ireland to become the honorary leader of the Free State in the 1930s. Apparently he politely declined.

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