Re: Re: Áras an UachtaráIn

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I don’t think they actually stayed in the Wing itself. I suspect it was built to accommodate their staff (that’s just a hunch I have.)

As to that bungalow, well that is a story. 😀 One of the reasons for the delay in building it (a delay that ultimately saved the old Aras) was that the Minister for Finance and the Taoiseach had a blazing row over whether the President should have a separate Council of State room or whether Council meetings should take place in his office (all twenty members squashed around his desk presumably. You can just hear it – ‘will ya move up a bit, W.T. I’ve long legs and need more space’ sez deV. ‘I can’t’ sez W.T. Cosgrave. ‘McDunphy’s knees are in the way.’ ‘I can’t move’ sez McDunphy, with his infamous scowl, ‘otherwise I’ll be kicking the President’s wheelchair’. ‘Gentlemen! Gentleman’ Can we get on with discussing the Bill?’ sez Hyde. ‘Where is the Bill, by the way?’ ‘Its under de Valera’s chair. I can’t move to pick it up.’ says W.T. etc etc.)

DeV and the Finance Minister were also squabbling over how many bedrooms and toilets there should be. 😡

Preliminary plans were drawn up. All I have seen show a strange square box located to the north-east of the old Aras, which itself was shown simply as an empty space with the odd tree. When the Estimates in 1939 only provided £10 for the new Áras everyone knew the game was up, except McDunphy, who blindly continued writing about the need for the new building, and how he was collecting art to decorate it with. :rolleyes:

Until 1942 or 1943, maps of the interior of the Áras showed the ‘Chancellory’ (the offices of the secretariat), the President’s office, the Drawing Room , and the small dining room cum snooker room cum council of state room. The ballroom and the large dining room on further were shown just as dotted outlines as if they didn’t actually exist! Everytime Hyde wanted to bring guests to either room he had to beg to get a key off the security people to get in to the rooms. About the only thing the Aras had was tons of portraits of George III all over the place. No-one knows why. Maybe a past viceroy or someone in the OPW had liked buying portraits of that particular king. The Princess Royal, who visited the then Lodge in the late 1920s while on holiday in Ireland (amazing, that. The civil war was 5 years over, yet a member of the Royal Family could holiday in Ireland and was warmly welcomed whereever she went, including the Gaeltacht, where her husband had relatives!) burst out laughing at all the pictures of George III. All the royal portraits were finally removed in 1943. Then there was a mad scramble to find new pictures to hide all the damp patches on the walls! 😮

One final quirky fact. While the Lord Lieutenant’s old state ceremonial, including state carriages, were all abolished abruptly in 1922, leaving all the stables empty, some of it made a short-lived return in 1945 when President O’Ceallaigh travelled to and from the inauguration in Queen Alexandra the Queen Mother’s old state landau, complete with liveried attendants. The ceremony was a spectacular success (pictures of it I have seen are incredible with 70 blue hussars on horseback accompanying the landau up O’Connell Street, amid cheering crowds. The Irish Times took a famous picture of the scene from the top of the Pillar). However the following year an accident at the RDS (Sean T insisted he go there by carriage. The horses hadn’t been fully trained yet. When the crowds cheered the horses took fright and the coach jacknifed :eek:) led de Valera to axe the horses and replace the newly made President’s state carriage with a car, the car now used to transport presidents to inaugurations. (DeV and Sean T had been rowing over ‘carriage or car’ for two years. DeV wouldn’t buy a new car, and spent a year having exiled royalty button-holed to see if one of them would sell him a state car cheaply. They refused, so eventually, we had to buy a new one.) 🙁

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