Leinster house had seen plenty of Fitzgeralds having been their family home for three generations. As the Oireachtas – the Irish Parliament – since 1922, it had also seen plenty of politicians. But the politician that stood to give his only speech in the Dail Chambers was causing a stir in the Ireland of 1963. He put at ease the members of the house by pointing out that although his name was Fitzgerald he had not come to claim back his home; President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was just visiting.
James Maltons “Leinster House. July 1792”In 1745 the then Earl of Kildare James FitzGerald commissioned the German architect Richard Cassels to build him a mansion in the unfashionable south side of Dublin city prophetically commenting “Wherever I go, fashion will follow me.”. By the time that King George III made FitzGerald the Duke of Leinster the then Kildare House, now renamed Leinster House, was the epicenter of a rapidly developing part of Dublin with Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square becoming home to the Irish aristocracy
The Royal Dublin Society (RDS) purchased the building off the third Duke and used it “to promote and develop agriculture, arts, industry, and science in Ireland”. Their tenure saw Leinster Lawns being used by Richard Crosbie for the first ballon flight in Ireland and for the Great Industrial Exhibition of 1853. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were amongst the visitors. Included in the changes to the building by the RDS was a lecture theatre. This addition would prove of enormous interest to the next tenets.
“Leinster House does not inspire the brightest ideas”
– Lord Edward Fitzgerald
In 1921 the Provisional Government were planning on using the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham as their new Parliament House. However, due to the fact that it was still occupied by British troops, and would be when independence came into being in December of that year, a temporary alternative was required. The RDS lecture theatre was deemed suitable and an agreement was reached with the RDS. The precarious financial conditions of the new state saw the idea of Kilmainham being dropped as a venue for an Irish Parliament and instead Leinster House was bought outright from the RDS in 1924 and continues to this day as home to the Oireachtas.