New French embassy opens in Merrion Square Georgian townhouse

Prime Minister and Tánaiste celebrate “unwavering friendship” between two countries

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls inaugurating the new French embassy with Tánaiste Joan Burton at Merrion Square in Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls inaugurating the new French embassy with Tánaiste Joan Burton at Merrion Square in Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

 

The French prime minister, Manuel Valls, inaugurated the new French embassy on Merrion Square yesterday, saying: “Today, more than ever, France wants to be a major partner for Ireland. ”

Tánaiste Joan Burton represented the Government, as Taoiseach Enda Kenny was delayed at the EU summit on immigration. Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett and Eamon Gilmore also attended.

Mr Valls and Ms Burton both spoke of Wild Geese, of the Lynch, Barton and Hennessy families who amassed wine and spirits fortunes in France, the Irish Brigade that fought for two centuries for France, the Battle of the Somme, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett.

Both evoked Ireland’s solidarity with France in January, when 17 people were murdered in jihadist attacks in Paris. “France can count on Ireland in the most difficult moments,” Mr Valls said.

Ms Burton pointed out that Ireland’s flag was “politically and physically inspired by the French tricolour”.

Georgian townhouse

Some 40 embassy staff had worked in three locations, but are now housed under a single roof, in a stately Georgian townhouse near the historic homes of William Butler Yeats and Daniel O’Connell.

Its elegant chandeliers and stucco mouldings are a vast improvement on the former chancery on Ailesbury Road.

The Franco-Irish love-fest culminated with Mr Valls and Ms Burton unveiling a bronze plaque. It will remind visitors of a light and cheery spring evening, when 200 guests sang La Marseillaise and Amhrán na bhFiann before liveried waiters brought out trays of smoked salmon, foie gras and champagne.