Dublin: Free visits to great government buildings
A quick tour of Southeast Dublin will land you in the cobblestoned Merrion Square, home of many of Dublin’s government buildings. Here you’ll find at least two great structures well worth a visit.
Leinster House, the former residence of the Duke of Leinster, today houses Parliament, and is surrounded by gardens and sculptures. Nearby, on Upper Merrion Street, stands the Department of the Taoiseach, which is similar to the Prime Minister, and also houses the Department of Finance and the Attorney General. Dubliners, known to scoff at any over-the-top pomp, sometimes refer to the ornate building as “Chas Mahal,” a reference to the late Charles Haughey, the sixth Taoiseach. (Most residents, however, simply refer to the structures as “Government buildings.” Simple, but it works.)
All government buildings here are free and open to the public. You must book a tour in advance (for groups only) if you wish to see Parliament, but show up during normal hours of operation at Leinster House and the Department of the Taoiseach and you can view current exhibits and take advantage of free guided tours, free tickets for which can be picked up at the nearby National Gallery (also a free sight).
Once you’ve completed your tour, be sure to take a gander at the structure at One, Merrion Square. This Georgian structure, where Oscar Wilde once lived, is now a museum.
More information, including tour times, can be found on the Dublin Tourism Board’s website.