New Exhibition, ‘Proclaiming a President’, marks 80 Years of Presidential Inaugurations at Dublin Castle

8 November 18

In June 1938, Douglas Hyde was sworn in as the first President of Ireland in St. Patrick’s Hall at Dublin Castle. On the 11th of November, 2018, the Hall will once again be the setting for the Presidential inauguration. To celebrate this event and to mark its eightieth anniversary, a new exhibition in Dublin Castle looks back at the inauguration of all nine Irish Presidents at Dublin Castle over the past eight decades.

Bringing together video clips from the RTÉ Archives, historical photographs and the original Presidential chair used at the inauguration ceremony, it reflects the development of this important State occasion since the days of Douglas Hyde. Through the changing faces of Ireland’s Presidents and the themes they championed in their inaugural addresses, it is possible to trace something of the evolution of modern Ireland.

Some interesting themes have emerged which reflect how the country shifted to an outward looking European democracy.  From 1938 to 1966 inaugural addresses were delivered in Irish, reflecting the emphasis placed by the first three Presidents, Douglas Hyde, Seán T. O’Kelly and Éamon de Valera on the Irish language as a tool in the shaping of the young nation. This only changed in 1966 when de Valera’s second inaugural address was delivered almost entirely in English.

The exhibition also draws attention to the changing themes of the inaugural addresses, from a focus on the ending of partition in the early days, to calls for ‘harmony’ and later for peace in the 1980s and 1990s. It also captures the broadening of the focus of the Presidency over the years. This becomes especially apparent in the case of Mary Robinson’s inaugural address in 1990, which emphasised not only the President’s role as a symbol for the Irish diaspora but also the growing focus on women’s rights in Ireland, as well as Ireland’s role in a changing Europe. In addition to the video, there will also be a series of portrait images of the nine Presidents. These will be installed on the State Corridor. This will be the first time that visitors will have an opportunity to see portrait images of the Presidents on display in the building where they are sworn into office.

Speaking about the exhibition, curator Dr. Myles Campbell commented - "The history of the Presidential inauguration at Dublin Castle can tell us so much about tradition and continuity but also about change in Ireland over the past eighty years. We at Dublin Castle are excited to give visitors this chance to come in and explore that history in the very place where it has been made since 1938."


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EVENT  Proclaiming a President
Location  State Corridor, State Apartments, Dublin Castle
Dates  12th November 2018- 20th January 2019
Times  10am - 5pm every day
Admission   €3