Farmleigh House is the designated official state guest house for visiting heads of state and dignitaries.
- Originally the home of Arthur Guinness's great grandson --- Edward Cecil, the Earl of Iveagh
- Now Ireland's official visitor residence, host to President Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II and other world dignitaries
- Located in Europe's largest park, Phoenix Park, where the Irish President's home is also found
- Unique interior with exquisite ceilings, artwork and decor
- Huge, magical gardens -- great for a picnic
- Cafe/restaurant on site
Noteworthy parts of the Farmleigh house include the Nobel Room, the Blue Drawing Room, the Benjamin Iveagh Library, and the Gallery. Many of the artworks and furnishings on display are on loan to the State from the Guinness family, and the Iveagh Library offers a collection of rare books and manuscripts. There is a unique cultural and intellectual character to the building. The interior design of the house features a charming combination of styles, including those of the Jacobean, Louis XV, Louis XVI, and Georgian eras.
Farmleigh Estate features a walled Victorian pleasure garden. The sunken garden combines collections of Victorian and Edwardian features, such as a fountain lawn.
One of the highlights of the estate is its Clock Tower, which stands at 37 metres / 121 feet tall, and is visible above the tree line. The view from the tower is spectacular on a clear day, with Malahide visible to the north, Dun Laoghaire and the Dublin Mountains to the south, and Maynooth to the west.
Events and State Functions
Throughout the year, Farmleigh plays hosts to a wide and varied range of events, including
- Literary events
- A variety of music and arts events
- Food markets
- Gardening and other outdoor events
The estate has played host to state visits of Queen Elizabeth II, Honorable Dame Silvia Cartwright, Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway, Lech Kaczynski, President of the Republic of Poland, and Tony Blair, UK Prime Minister. Farmleigh also routinely hosts official government functions.
Farmleigh at Christmas
Christmas is a magical time at Farmleigh. Children and families enjoy puppet shows and magic shows as well as a special Christmas market. Santa does a walkabout meet-and-greet, and the house itself is wonderfully decorated for the occasion.
Farmleigh at Easter
The annual Easter egg hunt at Farmleigh is also popular with families. Creativity workshops, storytelling and other children-centred events all add to the holiday fun.
Farmleigh was originally a small Georgian house built in the late 18th century and purchased by Edward Cecil Guinness (1847-1927) on his marriage to his cousin Adelaide Guinness in 1873. The great grandson of Arthur Guinness, founder of the brewery, Edward Cecil became the first Earl of Iveagh in 1919.
Later expansions and renovations included the addition of a third storey under the supervision of architect James Franklin Fuller in 1881 and a ballroom wing designed by William Young in 1896.
In 1901, a conservatory was installed next to the ballroom and the gardens were adorned with a new planting of broadleaves and a wide range of exotic plants. The extensive private garden features mature cypress, pine, and oak trees.
The estate was purchased from the fourth Earl of Iveagh by the Irish government in 1999. The 78-acre property was refurbished by the Office of Public Works before being named as the exclusive accommodation for visiting dignitaries and guests of the nation for high level government meetings as well as dedicated to the purpose of public enjoyment.
Farmleigh House and Estate is open seven days a week, including Bank Holiday Mondays. Entrance is free to visitors between 10 AM and 6 PM. There is a possibility the estate would be closed because of state or government events, so it pays to check ahead when planning a visit. Special interest groups are welcome, and can arrange tours of the gardens and the art collection or the library by appointment.
Getting to Farmleigh
On occasions such as the Easter school break, Farmleigh House can seem very popular. On quiet summer mornings, however, it may feel more like a hidden gem -- especially as it can be a little tricky to find if you've never been there before. Farmleigh is accessed through Phoenix Park. Walking, it is 15 minutes from Castlenock Gate. If driving in Phoenix Park through the Castlenock Gate, a right hand turn at the first roundabout and another right after 50 yards takes the visitor to the entrance.
Don't be afraid to ask for directions, as local signs within the park can be confusing!
Farmleigh House. Image by Melfoody