Leinster House is home to the National Parliament of Ireland and is located on Kildare Street in Dublin city centre. We trace the history of Leinster House, find out about its current residents, its links to the White House in Washington and details on the best times to visit.
Formerly known as Kildare House, after James Fitzgerald the Earl of Kildare who commissioned it in 1745, Leinster House has been central to Dublin and Ireland’s history. It later got its name Leinster House (Dublin is part of the province of Leinster) after James Fitzgerald became Duke of Leinster. The building acted as a family home to the high-profile Fitzgerald’s for many years to come.
In fact one of the most famous early residents was Lord Edward Fitzgerald who was the fifth son of the Duke of Leinster. He was a supporter of the United Irishmen who sought Ireland’s independence from England in 1798 Rising. He was actually arrested before the rebellion took place and died from wounds received during his arrest.
In 1815, the third Duke of Leinster, sold the building for £10,000 plus a yearly rent to the Royal Dublin Society and so it passed from the hands of the Fitzgeralds. It would take over 100 years before Leinster House would become the centre of the Irish nation. Following the foundation of the Irish Free State in 1922, the Government acquired a section of the mansion for use by the sitting parliament. And from that day forth, Leinster House became the home of the Oireachtas (the National Parliament) including Dail Eireann (the House of Representatives) and the Seanad (the Senate).
As for the design of the building, the German-born Richard Cassels created this and it fits well within the style and architecture of the 1700′s. And it’s believed that the Leinster House design actually acted as an inspiration for the White House in Washington DC. The Irish architect, James Coburn studied architecture in Dublin and he went on to win the competition to design the White House in 1792.
Although it’s at the heart of Irish society with bills and laws debated on a daily basis, Leinster House still opens its doors to the public for tours of the building and sometimes you’ll even get to view proceedings from the Public Gallery.
Tours usually last around 30 minutes and run at various times throughout the day and on certain days of the week. It’s worth noting that May and June are the busiest months of the year with school groups adding to the numbers. To arrange a tour we recommend that you visit the Houses of the Oireachtas official website as various procedures need to be followed.
The main entrance to Leinster House is on Kildare Street. Kildare Street runs parallel to Grafton Street (Dublin’s pedestrianised shopping street) and is only about 200 metres or so away.
If you fancy spending a night or two in Dublin check out our Dublin city hotels page.