Áras an Uachtaráin in the Phoenix Park is the house of the Irish president. The name means "living place of the president" in Irish.
This video is designed as a resource for primary and post-primary students up to Junior Certificate.
Áras an Uachtaráin
Do you know what park rangers are? They are the people who drive around or ‘range’ the park, keeping it tidy and safe. Well, around 1750, the Chief Park Ranger of the Phoenix Park was a man named Nathaniel Clements. He was a very proud man. In 1751 he decided to build a large house in the Phoenix Park on the site of an old house called Newtown Lodge. This site had a beautiful view of the Dublin Mountains and a small lake which had been created by putting a dam across a stream.
In 1782, the English Government bought the house. It was used as a summer house for the viceroys. Viceroys were the people who represented the King or Queen of England in Ireland.
Over the years many changes were made to the house such as:
- Decimus Burton, a famous English designer, planned formal gardens in the 1840s
- A new part of the East Wing was added in1849 for the state visit of Queen Victoria
- a new part of the West Wing was added for the visit of George V in 1911
- The house was fitted with Dublin mains gas supply in 1852 and electricity in 1908
When Ireland became the Irish Free State, the government decided to have a president. The first president was called Dr Douglas Hyde. It was agreed that Dr Hyde would live at Newtown Lodge. The name was changed to something more president-like: the house was now called Áras an Uachtaráin which means ‘the living place of the president’ in Irish.
Every Irish president lives at Áras an Uachtaráin. These are the presidents that have lived there: Douglas Hyde, Sean T. O’Kelly, Éamon de Valera, Erskine Childers, Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, Patrick J. Hillery, Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese
Mary McAleese still lives at Áras an Uachtaráin with her husband, her three children and their two dogs, Homer and Lucy. She has a very busy life. She must welcome important guests to Ireland. She has met the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, the former President of the USA, Bill Clinton, and the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. She also visits kings, queens and presidents all over the world, but before she can head for the skies, she must get permission from the Taoiseach.