The House from a circa 1910 postcard
Built / Designed For: Nathaniel Clements, MP
House & Family History: Nathaniel Clements, banker, MP, politician, and developer of 18th century Dublin was also an amateur architect who built this house for himself, 1751-52. Clements's son, Robert, later the 1st Earl of Leitrim, sold the House in 1782 to the government to be used as an "occasional residence" for the viceroy. After purchase by the government the House was enlarged, with an extra story added to the wings. In 1808 the front was given a single-story Doric portico. The House was expanded by Francis Johnston in 1815 to more properly serve its viceregal function. Johnston extended the garden front by five bays on either side and added the giant pedimented portico of four Ionic columns. In anticipation of Queen Victoria's visit in 1849, a new wing was added at one end of the Garden Façade. Since 1938 the House has been the official residence of the president of Ireland. A mid-18th century plasterwork ceiling representing Jupiter and the Four Elements was removed from Sarah Purser's Mespil House before its demolition and installed in the President's Reception Room of Áras an Uachtaráin. There are also copies of the plasterwork from the Dining Room at Riverstown House, Co. Cork, that have been installed in Áras an Uachtaráin.
Garden & Outbuildings: Phoenix Park, today the largest city park in Europe, was the former Royal Deer Park, of which Nathaniel Clements was ranger and master of the game. The Park's name comes from a corruption of the Gaelic "Fionn Uisce," meaning "bright water," from a spring which rises near the Phoenix Column. The Park was planted with trees in 1747 on orders of Lord Chesterfield, who was viceroy at the time. A tree in the Park marks the spot where, on the evening of May 6, 1882, Lord Frederick Cavendish, the newly-appointed chief secretary and his assistant, Thomas Burke, were stabbed to death with an amputation knife. The Park is open to the public at all times. Formal gardens were installed by Decimus Burton, 1840-41. The House is today situated in the 1,752 acres of Phoenix Park.
House Listed: Unknown
Park Listed: Unknown
Seat of: President of Ireland
Past Seat of: Nathaniel Clements, 18th century; Robert Clements, 1st Earl of Leitrim, 18th-19th centuries.
Current Ownership Type: Government
Primary Current Ownership Use: Other
Ownership Details: Since 1938 the official residence of the president of Ireland