16 January 1922 – Ceremonial handing over of Dublin Castle to Michael Collins
Dublin Castle was the seat of English power in Ireland for more than 700 years. The original castle was started on the site in 1204 at the order of King John shortly after the Norman invasion. Completed in 1230, the castle was a classic Norman design, consisting of four towers for protection, one at each corner, surrounding a central courtyard. Only one of the original towers remain today: the Record Tower which now houses the Museum of the An Garda Siochana, the Irish police force (though remnants of a second tower remain underground and can be viewed by tour).
The Castle is remembered in modern history as the source of all that was wrong with British rule in Ireland. In 1920, on the night of Bloody Sunday (when 14 people gathered at Croke Park for a Gaelic Football match were shot in retaliation for the assassination of British intelligence agents by Micahel Collins’ “Squad” the night before) three members of the IRA being held by the British, Dick McKee, Conor Clune, and Peadar Clancey were tortured and killed at the Castle.
Image: Bedford Tower which housed the Irish Crown jewels until they were stolen in 1907
After the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921, the Castle became the property of the newly formed Irish Free State. The Castle was officially handed over to Michael Collins on this date in 1922. The story goes that Collins arrived seven minutes late to the ceremony (which was unusual for Collins who was usually extremely punctual). Lord Lieutenant FitzAlan is reported to have said “You are seven minutes late Mr. Collins. To which Collins famously replied “We’ve been waiting over 700 hundred years, you can have the extra seven minutes”.
Today, the Castle is used by the Irish government as offices, housing for diplomatic guests and ceremonial occasions, including the swearing in of the Taoiseach (the Irish Prime Minister) and the President of Ireland. In 2011, Queen Elizabeth II
attended a state dinner at Dublin Castle, the first visit by an English monarch since the Castle was handed over in 1922.