Aras an Uachtarain is the official residence of the president of Ireland, and is located in Phoenix Park on the northside of Dublin. The main gate is located adjacent to the Phoenix Monument at the centre of the park.
The first president of Ireland, Douglas Hyde, lived there in 1938, in what was supposed to be a temporary situation. The building, formerly the Viceregal Lodge, was to be demolished and rebuilt as a presidential palace, but World War II stopped demolition and the new design was put on hold. By 1945, the building was so closely identified with the presidency that public sentiment saved the original building. The poor condition of the structure regularly prompts serious renovation and extensive rebuilding projects.
Although not as palatial as other European royal and presidential palaces, it has boasted many famous guests, including Queen Victoria, Charles V and American presidents John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama. Designed in the 18th century by Nathaniel Clemente, Aras an Uachtarain houses the headquarters of the Garda Mounted Unit and is the hub where government ministers receive their seal of office and the offices of judges and other government officials are discharged.
On May 1, 2004, during Ireland's six-month presidency of the European Union, Aras an Uachtarain provided the venue for the European Day of Welcome (Accession Day) in which ten new members joined the EU. Aras an Uachtarain is not without its tales of intrigue.
Two famous murders took place on the grounds in 1882. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, Lord Frederick Cavendish and Undersecretary Thomas Henry Burke were stabbed to death with surgical knives while walking back to the residence. A small insurgent group claimed responsibility.
Visiting the Aras
Áras an Uachtaráin is open to the public on Saturdays. Admission is FREE and tickets are issued at the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre. Tickets may only be obtained by on the same day - so arrive early and queue. Advanced booking is not possible.
Summer (Sat only) 10.15am-4pm
Winter (Sat only) 10.30am-3.30pm Closed 24th-27th December