Dublin Castle’s green veneer

Dublin Castle is the setting for some of Ireland’s most important state functions – but the building reveals a history the country would prefer to forget.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland

I think it’s fair to say that the Irish still hold a bit of a grudge against the English – for, you know, that thing when they occupied their land for hundreds of years.

These days the Irish have a clear and distinct cultural identity but it’s impossible to avoid the influence the British had over it. I think you can see it best in the postboxes, which were changed from red to green after Irish independence.

Same basic shape, same purpose, different colour.

I see a local comedian in Ireland during my trip who makes reference to this. He jokes that the Irish painted the postboxes then ran out of paint, got bored, and so just left everything else the way it was when the English were in control.

Visiting Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland

Of course, this is all an oversimplification of a complicated time in the history of this part of the world. So, why do I bring it up?

Well, it’s because I think the postbox logic can also be applied to Dublin Castle, which is what I want to tell you about today.

Dublin Castle, in the heart of the country’s capital, was built in the 18th century as the seat of British rule. It was from here that the representative of the British monarch (either the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland or the Viceroy of Ireland) ruled the land.

After Ireland achieved its independence in 1921, the building became one of the most important in Dublin. The first president of Ireland was inaugurated here and every subsequent inauguration ceremony has been held in the building.

It became the primary location for official state functions like banquets, diplomatic meetings and international meetings.

Just like the postboxes – same shape, same purpose, just a different veneer.

Visiting Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland

As a tourist, you can visit Dublin Castle and see the interior for yourself. If you want to visit the Medieval Undercroft and Chapel Royal, then you have to take a guided tour. Be warned that these can fill up and it’s best to arrive early and book yourself onto one (even if it’s going to be in the afternoon).

You don’t need a booking or a tour to walk through the State Apartments, though, and I think they are interesting enough to do by themselves.

The State Apartments are the rooms where the British Lord Lieutenant or Viceroy lived and hosted functions. They are large and opulent and stretch out across a whole wing.

They needed to be luxurious to satisfy the status of their resident but, more importantly, they were designed to show the strength and wealth of the British. Members of the elite classes would gather here for official and social events during the time of British rule and the rooms needed to make a good impression.

Visiting Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland

The biggest room is the enormous Saint Patrick’s Hall, which was designed as a ballroom but is now used for the presidential inaugurations. But equally impressive for either their size or design are the dining room, the throne room and the drawing room.

I would highly recommend a visit to Dublin Castle when you’re in the city – if, for nothing else, to see an important part of British and Irish history all intertwined in the one building. I’ll leave you now with some of my photos of the State Apartments of Dublin Castle.

Visiting Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland
Visiting Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland
Visiting Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland
Visiting Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland
Visiting Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland
Visiting Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland
Visiting Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland
Visiting Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland
Visiting Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland


The city is easy to get around but I think you’ll find Dublin’s best accommodation south of the river, around St Stephen’s Green.


Being a student city, there are lots of hostels but I would recommend Generator Dublin.


Dublin can be expensive but you can get an affordable private room at Destiny Student – Tannery.


For a really cool hotel with a distinct style, I love The Dean Dublin.


And for modern five-star luxury, I don’t think you’ll find better than The Marker Hotel.

Time Travel Turtle was a guest of Tourism Ireland but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.

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