Tour of Aras An Uachtarain – Irish White House

About 50 members of the AWCD had a tour of Aras an Uachtarain on Wednesday.  We had to give our names as they are on our official documents and car registrations in advance… but “security” was a bit of a joke really. You’d think going to meet with president’s wife and entering their HOME, there would be more security, but nope.  We pulled up said our name (no need to look at the photo) and we were waived through.  No metal detectors … just really not the way it would be in the US.   Oh we did come to two unarmed, female officers on horseback as we walked from the car park.

The grounds were lovely – big stately home in Phoenix Park.  The entrance is actually the back of the house.   As you’d imagine lovely artwork, marble, amazing carpets, details and very clean.    I took all these photos with my android as I sort of felt odd taking my proper camera – but in hindsight would have had better quality photos.
We first started off with a photo and brief individual introduction to Sabina Higgins, the President’s wife!  Once I get my photo, I’ll update).   We were then guided into a large room for coffee/tea and the first lady walked the room having chats.   There was cute little guy who poured the teas & coffees.  He’s been working here for many many years.

Mrs. Higgins then gave a welcome & thank you speech to our group where she touched on women’s rights, roles of women (beyond the home) and at one point referred to us as ‘Ladies of Leisure‘.  It was nice of her to take time out of her day to meet us.
We were then given a very detailed tour of the main reception rooms by the “navy guy” who as rather handsome. He was also very funny!   He talked in great detail about each and every past president (only been 10 and TWO were women!!), about some furniture, artwork, chandeliers, etc.

Guinness trademarked the harp facing the their direction before Ireland was a Republic, so the government had to ask permission from Guinness to use an inverse image of the harp as the government symbol.

This chandelier is hundreds of years old and has supported four types of lighting – candle, oil, electric and now environmentally friendly LED lights.

Queen Elizabeth was impressed with this chandelier during her May 2011 visit.  It has crown, thistle and a shamrock representing the Act of Union in 1801 between England, Scotland and Ireland (it used to belong to her family!)

This “lovely” set of furniture is originally from the Palace of Versailles in Paris and the one in Paris ia replica.  A gift from the French Republic to the “New” Irish Republic.  This is the room which the President hosts Foreign leaders for tea in this room.

We were given a gift bag which contained a book about the home and it’s past presidents.

Every few years the AWCD does this tour and if they did it again, I’d gladly join in.  I’m very interested in touring the US Ambassador’s residence across the road – especially at Christmas time – I have heard it’s very impressive and I’m sure the security would be a thousand times more.

Perhaps one day when back in America, we can tour the White House with the kids and we can compare.  Hopefully they’ll be a woman in office, too!

If you visit:  You can take a virtual tour on their website or free group tours are held nearly every Saturday and are on a first come, first serve basis.  More information about taking a tour yourself can be found on their website.

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