The SandMillers’ outing on 9 November was to the Dáil, by kind invitation of Eamon Ryan, Green Party. After a lovely lunch in the members’ restaurant and a pleasant chat, Eamon took us on an informative tour of the building, telling of its history and use today. Leinster House was designed in 1745 by Richard Cassels as a family home for the Earl of Kildare and his twenty-two children. It is claimed the house was the prototype for the White House in Washington DC.
Leinster House was sold to the RDS in the 1800s, and additions included an octagonal lecture theatre. In 1922 the new Irish Government purchased the house and the Dáil sits in the remodelled theatre. We sat in on Ministers’ Question Time for a while before moving on to observe a session of the Seanad in the saloon. This area requires a lot of repair and overhaul so over the next few years the Seanad will be moving to the National Museum. There was some discussion at lunch that a better location might be the old Parliament Building, now the Bank of Ireland, College Green.
Following a photo shoot in the original entrance hall and sight of the ministers’ offices, added in 2000, we bid goodbye to Eamon. As the division bells rang out, we left with our souvenir napkins.
The Sandmillers marked the 1916 Year of Commemoration with a presentation by Dave Swift on the uniforms and weapons of all the organizations that played a part in the 1916 Rebellion.
Dave brought along an impressive array of artefacts to illustrate his talk, some originals and some replicas. As we gingerly passed the guns around we were relieved to hear that they had been decommissioned. Karen Morton looked very fetching in her Countess Markievicz hat . (The brim was pinned up on one side to accommodate the gun barrel.)
The talk ended with an in-depth look at the printing of the Proclamation, noting the many typographical mistakes and acknowledging the great ingenuity of the printer working under such duress.
Dave, who had travelled from Galway that morning for the presentation, was delighted by the very receptive audience as were we by his obvious passion for his subject.
We wish all Sandmillers and their families a very Happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year.
Gloria Smythe and Irene Barber