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Organisation Information

Tour of Government Buildings

Last updated: 22 February 2019
Published: 22 November 2018
From: Department of the Taoiseach

Arranging a tour

Guided tours of Government Buildings normally take place every Saturday at 10.30, 11.30, and 1pm. Each tour is approximately 40 minutes in duration.

Tickets are free of charge and are available on the morning of the tours from the Clare Street entrance of the National Gallery (open at 9:30 am). Advance booking is not permitted. Please note that for security reasons the National Gallery is not in a position to offer cloakroom facilities to those visiting Government Buildings.

**Tours are liable to cancellation at short notice due to Government business. The number of Tours provided each Saturday may also be subject to change at short notice due to unforeseen circumstances, so please check in advance to avoid disappointment. Call

016194411 for more details .**

Government Buildings

The foundation stone for Government Buildings was laid on 28 April 1904 by King Edward VII. His son, King George V, officially opened the building as a college of science on 8 July 1911. The architects were Sir Aston Webb and Thomas Manley Deane.

The building is constructed from Portland stone from southern England, and granite from Ballyknocken quarries near Blessington, Co Wicklow.

The college was taken over by UCD in 1926. In 1989, UCD vacated the building and it was taken over by the Office of Public Works (OPW). In March 1990, work commenced on the renovation and refurbishment of the building, and it was handed over to the Department of the Taoiseach in December 1990.

Ceremonial staircase

This staircase is made of beechwood. It leads up to a luminous stained glass window, designed by Evie Hone. The design depicts the 4 provinces of Ireland and is entitled 'My Four Green Fields'. The window was originally commissioned for the Irish government's Pavilion at the 1939 New York World Fair. Artist Mary FitzGerald designed the vibrant carpet.

Italian Room

The vivid colours and decor are in total contrast to the rest of the building. The furniture and tiles are Italian and the fabric Irish tweed.

Cabinet Room

This is the room in which, since 1922, the government has made all important decisions. It is often known as the Council Chamber, as the government prior to the 1937 Constitution was known as the executive council.

The portraits on the walls are some of our greatest leaders and architects of our nation. Also on display in cabinets are some important artefacts, including an 18th century set of Irish statutes with remarkable red leather and gold-tooled bindings.

Cabinet furniture

New cabinet room furniture was commissioned by the OPW in 2004 to incorporate the latest technology for e-cabinet.

Table

The new cabinet table was designed by Michael Bell Design (Co Laois) and made by Fitzgerald Furniture of Kells. It is made of Irish burr walnut (centre panel and dark band around the edge), European walnut (the lighter wood) with ebony stringing, brass inlay with a patinated bronze track. The innovative shape of the table is designed to maximise sight lines and seating capacity within the room.

Chairs

The chairs are designed by Michael Bell Design and handmade by craftsman Michael Smith of Fitzgerald Furniture. The design is a unique and particularly complex one incorporating virtually no straight lines - making them a significant challenge for the craftsman.

Each chair incorporates 88 pieces of individually hand worked walnut. The chairs are high backed, with a burr walnut back panel and upholstered in black hide leather.

Lectern

The lectern - used for making presentations to the cabinet - was designed by Michael Bell design. It was crafted by Verena Meyer and is finished in rubbed lacquered Irish burr walnut.

Side cabinets

The side cabinets were designed by Michael Bell Design and crafted by Fitzgerald Furniture of Kells.

Sycamore Room

Eric Pearce of Cork designed the table in this room. It is made of bleached Sycamore and inlaid with Fota Island Yew. There are two complementary sideboards and small tables of the same wood. The handles on the side units are of bog oak. The bowl on the table is also bog oak hollowed out and carved by Br Kieran Forbes of Glenstal Abbey. It is also known as Conference Room 242.

Circular Corridor

This corridor is oval shaped and leads to a small, domeless rotunda outside the Taoiseach's office. The sculpture, entitled 'Children of Lir' is by Oisín Kelly.

Taoiseach's Office

The walls in the Taoiseach's office are panelled with oak from the ancient forests of Coolattin, Co Wicklow. The original Bossi fireplace was brought over from the Taoiseach's old office, which was in the north wing of the building.

The artist, Sarah Cecilia Harrison (1863-1941), painted the portrait of Michael Collins (1890-1922), which hangs over the Taoiseach's fireplace. It is the property of the National Art Gallery and is on loan to the Taoiseach for his term of office. The desk is also made of Irish oak.

Corridor to Leinster House

This corridor leads to the Taoiseach's circular corridor and office. The door at the end leads to Leinster House (Dáil Éireann), where there is a pedestrian bridge linking Government Buildings and Leinster House.

Beech Room

This room was the former library. The panelling on the lower wall is of beech, as are the tables. The tables are a flexible design by the OPW, enabling the furniture to be rearranged to suit the requirements of the occasion. It is also known as Conference Room 308.

Ash Room

Beech panelling has been introduced on the walls. The form of the table, which is made of ash, is reflected in the ceiling. A brass harp, the symbol of the Irish state, copied from the correct form as issued by the Office of the Chief Herald, has been inlaid into the centre of the table. This is the work of Eric Pearce.

The side units are also of ash, ensuite with the table. The whole area is wired to hear the Dáil bell. It rings for seven minutes to allow all deputies to get to the Dáil as the doors of the chamber are then closed to members of parliament (TDs) before a vote takes place. It is also known as Conference Room 301.