Leinster House (Irish Parliament)
Free Admission Tourist Attraction in Ireland #17
Leinster House is home to the Irish Parliament (Dáil Eireann). This is a fully functional working Parliament (some people would laugh at that assertion!) so some visitor security measures can be expected. Bring identification (a Passport or Irish Driving Licence, etc.). It is possible to view the members of the Irish Parliament 'in action' from the public viewing gallery (please keep your comments to yourself).
It has been claimed that Leinster House acted as an inspiration for the design of the US White House. The White House was designed by the Irishman James Hoban (1758-1831) who was born in County Kilkenny and who would have had ample opportunity as an aspiring architect in Dublin to view Leinster House.
Apart from being the historical home of the Irish Parliament Leinster House was also the venue for the first ever balloon ascent in Ireland, Richard Crosbie becoming airborne from the front lawn in 1783. The Great Industrial Exhibition was opened at Leinster House in 1853.
There are two ways to access the tours which are available Monday through Friday. The first involves being sponsored by a sitting T.D. (member of the Irish Parliament) or Senator. The second way is to simply 'walk-in' and this involves simply showing up at Leinster House at the appropriate time. There may be fewer public tours throughout the day and crowds may result in no places being available so get there early! It is best to check in advance about tour times and availability. For security reasons visitors are asked not to carry bulky bags into the building.
The tours are free and last approximately thirty to fifty minutes. Entrance to the tour is via the Kildare Street entrance which is located just a short distance from St. Stephen's Green in the very heart of Dublin City. The tour will explain the rich history and traditions associated with Leinster House and will involve visits to the Dáil and Seanad Chamber and the Oireachtas Committee Meetings Rooms. As with all good tours the final destination is the souvenir shop.
The free tour of Leinster House is something of a hidden gem.
A visit to the National Parliament of any country is to visit the very democratic core of that country. Simply by showing up at Leinster House visitors can be afforded entrance to the Irish Parliament, housed as it is in eighteenth century splendour. The location could hardly be better. Trinity College, O'Connell Street and St. Stephen's Green are all only a short walk away.
With a little planning it is possible to experience a fascinating (and free!) afternoon or morning tour and then spend the rest of the day exploring all that Dublin has to offer.
Find out more here: http://www.oireachtas.ie/parliament/visitsevents/visitleinsterhouse/
Video about Leinster House
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