Lonely Planet review for Leinster House
All the big decisions are made – or rubber-stamped – at Oireachtas na Éireann (Irish Parliament). It was built by Richard Cassels in the Palladian style between 1745 and 1748, and was considered the forerunner of the Georgian fashion that became the norm for Dublin’s finer residences. Its Kildare St facade looks like a townhouse (which inspired Irish architect James Hoban’s designs for the US White House), whereas the Merrion Sq frontage was made to resemble a country mansion.
The first government of the Irish Free State moved in from 1922, and both the Dáil (lower house) and Seanad (senate) still meet here to discuss the affairs of the nation and gossip at the exclusive members bar. The 60-member Seanad meets for fairly low-key sessions in the north-wing saloon, while there are usually more sparks and tantrums when the 166-member Dáil bangs heads in a less-interesting room, formerly a lecture theatre, which was added to the original building in 1897. Parliament sits for 90 days a year. You get an entry ticket to the lower- or upper-house observation galleries from the Kildare St entrance on production of photo identification. Free, pre-arranged guided tours are available when parliament is in session.
The obelisk in front of the building is dedicated to Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins and Kevin O’Higgins, the architects of independent Ireland.