Are You Seeing Double?
The image of the iconic White House in Washington is frequently on our TV screens and instantly recognised the world over. But, did you know it has a little sister in Ireland? Set in the beautiful surroundings of Dublin’s Phoenix Park is a mini White House, almost identical in design and architecture. It’s an impressive residence with an extremely intriguing history.
The grand stately home is known locally as Áras an Uachtaráin, which means “House of the President” in Irish. A sprawling white-pillared building with 95 rooms, its majestic facade will undoubtedly make you look twice!
A History With Humble Beginnings
Áras an Uachtaráin actually began life as a modest red-bricked hunting lodge back in 1751. Built by Nathaniel Clements, the Phoenix Park ranger, it was later acquired by the British government and turned into the British viceroy’s residence.
During the 19th century it evolved into an elegant neoclassical mansion with the addition of white paint, portico and columns. The mini White House hosted its first Irish president in 1938. Today, it is home to the president and his family and is the official venue for many state occasions.
The Mini White House – Fascinating Facts
Steeped in colourful history, there are many remarkable things you may not know about this exclusive residence. Here are just three of them to pique your interest:
- During the 1850s, Queen Victoria planted trees in the gardens
- In 1882, it became the location of two famous murders
- There are free tours of this elegant stately presidential home
An Intriguing Link To America
The stunning view of the front entrance and its white columns has continuously drawn comparison with the US White House. This is no coincidence. There is speculation that James Hoban, the Irish architect, took inspiration from Áras and used it as a design model.
While the mini White House is not a mirror image, it comes incredibly close, and the compelling connections are hard to ignore. It has a distinguished list of guests over the years too, from Pope John Paul II to Nelson Mandela. So, why not join them and find out for yourself if you really are seeing double?