Steward’s House, Farmleigh to be official Taoiseach’s residence

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    • #708325
      Anonymous
      Participant

      From Ireland.com

      Farmleigh lodge planned as residence for future taoisigh
      Liam Reid and Mark Brennock

      The Government is refurbishing a house in the grounds of the Farmleigh estate in the Phoenix Park with a view to using it as an official Taoiseach’s residence.

      Office of Public Works (OPW) sources have confirmed that the refurbishment of the Steward’s House on the estate, to be completed next year, is being carried out with the specific aim of providing a suitable residence for the Taoiseach.

      There is political sensitivity at Government level about the project, with some concerned that it could be depicted as a lavish “perk” for the Taoiseach. A spokeswoman for the Taoiseach said Mr Ahern has no interest in using it, and will remain living in his relatively modest home off Griffith Avenue, Dublin.

      “It [ the Steward’s House] could be used as a Taoiseach’s residence in future, but it won’t be used by him [ Mr Ahern]”, she said.

      The four-bedroom Steward’s House is described by the Office of Public Works as a “domestic-scale” building which would be highly suitable as a family home. A high specification security system is being installed for the house and grounds.

      Up to now Ireland has not followed the practice common in other countries of having a State-provided residence for the prime minister of the day.

      However, modern security requirements, coupled with the advantages of having a house in which the Taoiseach can work and receive visitors on official business, has led to the earmarking of this house for the use of future taoisigh.

      Gardaรƒยญ are increasingly uneasy at the difficulty of providing adequate security for the private residences of future taoisigh, particularly for those who live in apartments.

      This issue arose when Albert Reynolds, as taoiseach, lived in a Dublin apartment.

      It could also arise were Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny to become taoiseach, as he currently lives in a city centre apartment when in Dublin.

      An official OPW spokesman declined to confirm or deny that the house may be used in future for this purpose. “It is envisaged that the Steward’s House will be used as a stand-alone guest facility to complement the activities at the main house”, he said. “Any additional use will be a matter for Government to decide upon.”

      The Steward’s House, close to White’s Road at the edge of the Phoenix Park in Castleknock, was the home of the manager of Farmleigh estate. More recently, the OPW architectural staff used it as offices.

      When the refurbishment is completed the house will comprise four bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, and family rooms. The house can be accessed separately from the main Farmleigh estate.

      Visiting dignitaries stay in Farmleigh House.

      Any images anyone ?

    • #764714
      GrahamH
      Participant

      Aha – The Residence Question rears its contentious head again.

      The huge amounts of money spent on upgrading Bertie’s home (and the T

    • #764715
      ConK
      Participant

      Put Bertie in a house on Henrietta Street . . . . . maybe number 10? . . and rail it off like downing street. .. . actually make that number 11 – just to prove a point ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • #764716
      notjim
      Participant

      I guess it makes sense to put this in the farmleigh complex, but I can’t help being sorry that the opw building isn’t being used; its so handsome and a new use needs to be found for it if the opw is moving to trim (?).

    • #764717
      asdasd
      Participant

      So what will be the country estate?

      I wonder if we could expect haughey to gift that Island to the State, or even Kinseally in Dublin. Do the State some service.

    • #764718
      Paul Clerkin
      Keymaster

      @Graham Hickey wrote:

      Likewise “four bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, and family rooms” doesn’t immediately suggest the residence could be used for official engagements which is surely one of the greatest advantages of having such a facility – that it can act as a flexible location for public work and family life?

      no it makes sense – it means that farmleigh will be used for all this as the stewards house is in the grounds

    • #764719
      Anonymous
      Participant

      sounds reasonable to me … had a good look for images, no luck so far … just found reference to it in an OPW report …

    • #764720
      GrahamH
      Participant

      Good point for larger functions Paul.
      But I’m thinking along the lines of the great machine that is Downing Street, with state rooms that are just a corridor a way from the private quarters (or No 11 as it is at present). It’s a hugely flexible space, allowing more efficent use of prime ministers’ time, and aids in getting more work done and/or easing the pressures of the head of government.

      At the same time, I suppose we have to factor in that we already have a Downing Street here, just without the residential element – the Department of the Taoiseach at Govt Buildings, which includes the cabinet room, Taoiseach’s office, and all advisors and their offices on hand too, not to mention ‘state rooms’ of a sort downstairs – almost identical to Downing Street.

      So it’s a public-private divide arrangement that looks set to be introduced – just it would seem to be a wasted opportunity were a public element not to be included in the new residence, and were it not to be at least somewhat distinctive (let’s avoid ‘iconic’ :)) in the public eye.
      A new-build would be more preferable to an average period piece should it turn out to be such.

      Anyone have even the slightest idea what this Steward’s House even looks like, where it is or when it was built?

    • #764721
      Paul Clerkin
      Keymaster

      The living accomodation in Downing Street has been described as pokey and small, its best described as a flat – so much so that I believe that the Blairs when first elected moved into no 11 instead as the chancellor’s accomodation was more spacious, and Gordon Brown was at that time single.

    • #764722
      fergalr
      Participant

      Was a picture of it in the Irish Times recently, I think. Looks awful and middling.

    • #764723
      Anonymous
      Participant

      any chance you could scan & post it fergair ?

    • #764724
      GrahamH
      Participant

      A bit off-topic, but just thinking for a while – who came up with the rather prosaic term ‘Government Buildings’? It’s a name you’d more readily associate with Australia or New Zealand rather than a western European country.
      Did Charlie dream it up or was it a civil servant insider job? Or did it exist before the wholescale takeover in the late 80s?

    • #764725
      ctesiphon
      Participant

      This is the pic that was in the paper recently- part of an Irishman’s Diary from the Sat 4th Feb Irish Times. Apologies for the quality but the image is pretty small in the original.
      (No photographer’s name attached.)

    • #764726
      Anonymous
      Participant

      thanks for that ctesiphon, not very impressive from that angle, awkward position too jammed in against the roadway …

    • #764727
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @Graham Hickey wrote:

      A bit off-topic, but just thinking for a while – who came up with the rather prosaic term ‘Government Buildings’? It’s a name you’d more readily associate with Australia or New Zealand rather than a western European country.
      Did Charlie dream it up or was it a civil servant insider job? Or did it exist before the wholescale takeover in the late 80s?

      Interesting point, according to “Building for Government” the complex was built as the “Royal College of Science and Government Buildings”. Due to the fact that the Dept. of Agriculture and Technical Instruction and the Local Government Board were to be located there. The buildings was comemenced by the British administration and ironically was completed just in time for the hand over to the Irish Free State. The central element was opened as the College of Science in 1911 and the two wings, due to hold the respective departments in 1922.

    • #764728
      fergalr
      Participant

      I couldnt’ see it being impressive from any angle. If, as posted here, the OPW is quitting its mansion on the Green (what a loss to the east side of the square) then it’d be as good a building as any. Would easily be large enough to function as an appropriate residence for our Head of Government, is appropriately dignified and has space for hosts of other functions, offices etc.
      And a quick commute to work ๐Ÿ˜€

      I can’t see the public going for that..a little too nice for the “Shower in Power” would be my guess.

      The Steward’s House is just too…proletarian to be honest. And if it’s beside the road, is that not a bit dodgy from a security point of view?

    • #764729
      Frank Taylor
      Participant

      Anything that separates the leader of the day from the experiences of the people is a bad thing. Some concessions may have to be made for security reasons, but I’d prefer if he drove his own car or took public transport, lived in a normal house according to his means used aer lingus and so on. It’s hard to make good decisions when you’re too far apart from the real world. He should live a life according to his not insubstantial salary.

      Making a permanent residence is a step towards monarchy and moves away from the idea that a change of regime leads to any difference. The parties are already too similar without this.

      Down with that sort of thing!

    • #764730
      GrahamH
      Participant

      Well having Taoiseach Enda Kenny living in the PVC clad house that he does would really be too much for me to stomach ๐Ÿ™‚

      The Steward’s House is certainly, eh, ‘modest’. And there was me thinking there was this tucked away amongst the horse chestnuts of the Park:


      (anyone care to guess what country?)

      I’d agree with you up to a point Frank, but there is a logic in combining the governmental and residential aspects of the post of Taoiseach/Prime Minister. It would seem to make for more efficient use of that person’s time, as well as provide the public with a more solid concept of the Department of the Taoiseach.
      Whereas in the UK everything is issued or declared directly or on behalf of the PM via ‘Downing Street’, we get the nonsense of ‘spokespeople’ or ‘advisors to the Taoiseach’ etc. There is no concept of a strong leading force in Goverment in Ireland which is a shame I think.

      Certainly it could argued that is a good thing: advisors etc cannot operate under a ceremonial prime ministerial cloak as we have seen in the UK, but sure we already have that sort of culture here anyway. By and large I think it is a shame we don’t have a physically recognisable Department of the Taoiseach (though RT

    • #764731
      notjim
      Participant

      I bought a postcard of the palace of the people, pic above, in bucharest when i visited there about ten years ago and thought i was going to be lynched, an angry crowd gathered to shout at me: its bad taste fto buy a postcard of a symbol of tyranny. The funny thing is that the vendor joined in at shouting at me. The avenue leading up to the palace was quite striking in an ozimandias sort of way, a overblown tyrant-chic imitation of beaux art done in now crumbling concrete, massive ornate buildings clearly being used as tenements.

      Would it be possible to have an apartment within farmleigh itself, I don’t know how its laid out. Wouldn’t the proposed location be needlessly difficult to look after from a security point of view?

    • #764732
      Maskhadov
      Participant

      dublin apartments ? refurbished house in phoenix park ? what a joke. Leinster House should be the offical residance and they should build a new capital hill styled building in phoenix park

    • #764733
      Starch
      Participant

      that would be nicolae ‘ass hat’ ceauşescu’s gaff in bucharest

    • #764734
      Starch
      Participant

      i like zaha hadid’s proposal from the 70’s …… http://www.zaha-hadid.com/ …presentation wise it’s pretty sharp as well…. fickle i know

    • #764735
      THE_Chris
      Participant

      @ctesiphon wrote:

      This is the pic that was in the paper recently- part of an Irishman’s Diary from the Sat 4th Feb Irish Times. Apologies for the quality but the image is pretty small in the original.
      (No photographer’s name attached.)

      I know its an old pic to quote, but damn does that ever look like a railway station.

    • #764736
      Rory W
      Participant

      @Maskhadov wrote:

      dublin apartments ? refurbished house in phoenix park ? what a joke. Leinster House should be the offical residance and they should build a new capital hill styled building in phoenix park

      Words fail me…

    • #764737
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      It will never happen but I always thought that Tyrone House on Marlborough St. that houses the department of education would be an excellent residance. From the outside its a very sober afair but the true beuty lies inside. To locate such an important building here would give one of the sabbiest areas of Dublin a huge lift.

    • #764738
      Maskhadov
      Participant

      Well actually the apartment idea was a very good one. The leinster house as the Dail is a joke. Just look how small the place is on TV. How can that be anything other than a offical residence

    • #764739
      Rory W
      Participant

      Why change the Dail at all – it’s only ever full on about 6 occasions during the lifetime of a government (vote on a Taoiseach and 5 budgets). Aint broken don’t fix it.

      On the point of having a Taoiseach’s official residence – why? We’ve survived without one since the foundation of the State and Farmleigh is suitable for all official government entertainment. Just because we have one of the highest paid heads of state in Europe doesn’t mean he should be housed in palatial accomodation – at least if they use their own accomodation they can retain some link with reality.

    • #764740
      Anonymous
      Participant

      Further debate is probably pointless as the decision is made & refurb complete.

      Cowen will be the first Taoiseach to occupy, Bertie wont budge.

      Farmleigh seems like a logical location to me although the steward’s house is overly modest & surely its position adjoining the roadway is weak from a security point of view which was supposed to be the basis for the move in the first instance.

    • #764741
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      I don’t a residance ever being created as the concept of a residance payed for with tax payers money will always prove unpopular, if you look at Downing St. it was a present form the monarch and only accepted on the condition that it be for the PM of the day. Unless some wealthy individaul would be willing to pay for a Taoiseach’s house ๐Ÿ˜ฎ its unlikely to happen.

      Aside from the security concerns of the location should’nt the leader of the country be located in the centre of the capitol city?

      Also, any one have any info or pictures on the competition in 1970’s to build a residance at Ashtown Castle in the Park. I saw one the runner up designs by Meagher and DeBlacam that would have been ground breaking if realised. The proposal was scrapped by CJH, afterall who would want to leave Abbeyville anyway

    • #764742
      Anonymous
      Participant

      Crestfield as mentioned, the Taoiseach’s residence is complete & awaiting its first occupier afaik.
      I assume such a modest dwelling was chosen to stave off the ‘waste of taxpayers money’ argument.

    • #764743
      fergalr
      Participant

      I went looking on Google Maps and, while I can’t be certain whether or not this is the building, there seems to be a little complex of whitish looking houses just north of Farmleigh Hse on White’s Rd. There seems to be some sort of courtyardy business there, suggesting that the bit adjacent to the road is actually an out-house of some sort with the main building removed from the wall..

      http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=farmleigh,+phoenix+park,+dublin,+ireland&ie=UTF8&t=h&om=1&ll=53.365749,-6.358616&spn=0.004654,0.009978&z=17

    • #764744
      Anonymous
      Participant

      Possibly fergair, hard to know. All there is to go on is the description of it being a former gate lodge which would indicate that adjoining the road, although given security vulnerability etc. perhaps it is the adjacent building …

    • #764745
      fergalr
      Participant

      @crestfield wrote:

      Unless some wealthy individaul would be willing to pay for a Taoiseach’s house ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

      Ah, hindsight… ๐Ÿ˜€
      So will Biffo be moving in on May 6th or 7th? It might be a nice little ceremony. He could motor up Chesterfield Avenue, stop at the Aras and then go straight up to the house with his bags. Maybe throw an envious glance into Deerfield as he goes past.
      In any case, I imagine there’ll be a little bit more of a focus on this residence in the months ahead than there has been. Oh and by the by, it may not be a great structure but The Steward’s Houses is an appropriate name for the residence of the country’s temporary leader. Unless it’s changed to Aras an Taoiseach… because of course nothing could be left in English in this Anglophobic State, could it? :p

    • #764746
      asdasd
      Participant

      Unless it’s changed to Aras an Taoiseach… because of course nothing could be left in English in this Anglophobic State, could it

      to be fair there is very little official use of Gaelic in the United Kingdom and dominions.

    • #764747
      GrahamH
      Participant

      Just on the general matter, great to see Evie Hone’s My Four Green Fields window in the full glare of publicity yesterday – usually skulking as it does in the background of the staircase hall. What a stunningly sharp and vivid memorable backdrop.
      And apt too in da Bert context.

    • #764748
      Anonymous
      Participant

      @Fergair wrote:

      Ah, hindsight…
      So will Biffo be moving in on May 6th or 7th? It might be a nice little ceremony. He could motor up Chesterfield Avenue, stop at the Aras and then go straight up to the house with his bags. Maybe throw an envious glance into Deerfield as he goes past.
      In any case, I imagine there’ll be a little bit more of a focus on this residence in the months ahead than there has been. Oh and by the by, it may not be a great structure but The Steward’s Houses is an appropriate name for the residence of the country’s temporary leader. Unless it’s changed to Aras an Taoiseach… because of course nothing could be left in English in this Anglophobic State, could it?

      I’d imagine he’d be reluctant enough to be seen availing of this ‘perk’ but given the commute to offaly, he’ll be needing a Dublin base, i’m sure he has one already, but it makes sense at this stage to initiate a fixed working residence for An Taoiseach. Not sure if he’ll have a choice anyway, the security lads seem to be dictating this one, doubt there’ll be any ceremony, a quite slip in the door more like ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Watch the tabloids hop on this one.

    • #764749
      Anonymous
      Participant

      @GrahamH wrote:

      Just on the general matter, great to see Evie Hone’s My Four Green Fields window in the full glare of publicity yesterday – usually skulking as it does in the background of the staircase hall. What a stunningly sharp and vivid memorable backdrop.
      And apt too in da Bert context.

      Slightly off point here but am i right in thinking Graham, or anyone else for that matter, that the drum & dome of Government Buildings are actually slightly off line with the pillared & central gate to merrion street ? a little to the left i think ?
      Perhaps this is one for the Dublin Vista’s thread.

    • #764750
      Anonymous
      Participant

      Perhpas Not ! just more often a dodgy camera angle i think.


      Copyright FJP.

    • #764751
      johnglas
      Participant

      Of course the Taoiseach should have an official residence; the (Scottish) First Minister has one at Bute House, a swanky pile in the middle of an Edinbugh New Town terrace. Never understood why they don’t knock Agriculture House and built something half decent, including a contemporary rebuild of Kildare Place which could have a residence (which usually = office, meeting and reception rooms, etc.) for the T and the two ‘speakers’ of the Dail and Seanad. Ever been mooted?
      Crestfield: you’re confusing Downing Street with Chequers; I’m sure DS was just a private residence that was ‘acquired’ at some point – Chequers was a gift on the terms you state.

    • #764752
      GrahamH
      Participant

      Yep the vista spot on Peter – always dodgy camera positions that get it wrong! Incidentally the drum of the dome is put to the delightfully ceremonial use of a canteen.

      The security savings alone should negate much criticism of a Taoiseach’s residence. A host of new pricey equipment has to be installed in a new house every time there’s a change in the position.

      The difference in the Irish situation however is that we already have a Downing Street administrative-wise in the form of Government Buildings, where all ceremonial receptions are also held. There’s Farmleigh and the Castle for larger events. As such only a residence is really required, perhaps with a single reception space. A contemporary new-build would be preferable, given every other aspect of the Oireachtas is houses in a converted shell of one kind or another.

      No way should the chairs of the Houses have residences; there isn’t the history attached to the ceremony of the positions as in London.

    • #764753
      fergalr
      Participant

      @GrahamH wrote:

      Incidentally the drum of the dome is put to the delightfully ceremonial use of a canteen.

      You’re KIDDING? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Of all the places… Of all the places to stick the canteen.

      “Where’ll we put the restaurant?”
      “Sure that dome’s empty..”

      I was told today that Cowen stays in the Merrion when in Dublin, so I can imagine why he mightn’t be happy to move to the Steward’s House. Personally I think there’s more scandal in the building staying vacant than in him using it. I heard somehere (was it here?) that the cost of refurbishment was รขโ€šยฌ600,000. If he doesn’t move in, I’ll write to him and ask him why ๐Ÿ˜€

    • #764754
      fergalr
      Participant

      Oh! And then write to the OPW and offer my services as house-sitter.

    • #764755
      johnglas
      Participant

      grahamH: you’re the local man with the knowledge, but if you’ve no respect for the speaker, why shoukld you have any for the house?

    • #764756
      alonso
      Participant

      Surely the best place for the Taoiseach, given recent events, would be the State Apartments in Dublin Castle. 30 second commute?

    • #764757
      ctesiphon
      Participant

      @alonso wrote:

      30 second commute?

      To where? The Bridewell?

      Peter- I suspect part of the reason the chosen camera angle is usually off centre is to try to minimise the intrusion of Ag House into the shots.

    • #764758
      Anonymous
      Participant

      @ctesiphon wrote:

      Peter- I suspect part of the reason the chosen camera angle is usually off centre is to try to minimise the intrusion of Ag House into the shots.

      that probably explains it alright ctes …

      @GrahamH wrote:

      Incidentally the drum of the dome is put to the delightfully ceremonial use of a canteen.

      A canteen no less ! sure why don’t they go the whole hog & put the jacks up there too.

      The drum of the four courts is used for feck all as well if i recall, bad enough that its pathetically flood lit … now that it arises, any suggestions as to what use it & perhaps that of gov bldgs might serve ?

    • #764759
      fergalr
      Participant

      Cells?

    • #764760
      ctesiphon
      Participant

      Esmeraldaaaaaaa!!!!

    • #764761
      Anonymous
      Participant

      So Cowen likely to move in, that was fairly clear from the start, but from one extreme to the other ! RTE News : ‘… for security reasons, no exterior shots of the house are available’ what feckin difference would that make !? sure we all know what the exterior of his office looks like, where the president lives etc …

      http://www.rte.ie/news/2008/0512/6news_av.html?2373146,null,230

    • #764762
      Anonymous
      Participant

      Given that no exterior shots of Brian’s gaf are permitted for ‘security reasons’ thought i’d have a quick look on virtual earth ๐Ÿ˜‰ not that Brian will want the publicity !

      Its actually much more attractive than the back would suggest (wouldn’t be hard) though its positioning is awkward to say the least. Anyone know what the white complex next to it is backing on to the gardens themselves ? Its difficult to see where that 30k went on landscaping, a little on the pricey side for gravel & grass :rolleyes:

    • #764763
      lostexpectation
      Participant

      is he living there?

    • #764764
      Anonymous
      Participant

      yes, on weekdays or so i hear …

    • #764765
      lostexpectation
      Participant

      and the family?

    • #764766
      Anonymous
      Participant

      no just himself, i suppose there’s little point in commuting back to offaly when your trying to hatch a plan to capitalise the nations banks at 2am in the morning ๐Ÿ˜‰

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