Following his marriage to his cousin, Adelaide Guinness, Edward Cecil Guinness (1847 – 1927)
purchased the beautiful Farmleigh estate in 1873. Mr. Guinness was the great grandson of
Arthur Guinness, the founder of the Eponymous brewery and became the first Earl of Iveagh in
Renovations started on the estate from 1881-1884 and followed up with a redesign by Irish
architect James Franklin Fuller (1832-1925), who extended the beautiful house to the west, also
adding a third story. Designed by Scottish architect William Young, a ballroom wing was
retrofitted in 1896.
Along with these amazing and unique renovations over the years, the further addiction of a
wonderful conservatory interconnecting the Ballroom in 1901 and the development of the
garden has seen Farmleigh estate in the early Twentieth century become an establishment of
utmost living and entertainment.
Its wonderful charms are reflected in its interiors ranging from the classical style to Jacobean,
Louis XV, Louis XVI and Georgian.
Shortly before the end of the century (1999), the Gunnesses sold this beautiful estate to the
Irish government for €29.9 million. The house is now acting as first-class accommodation for
visiting dignitaries and guests of the nation and for high level Government meetings and last but
not least public enjoyment.
The Guinness Family at Farmleigh
Brewers to Collectors
Once viewed as an ‘rustic estate’ by Edward Cecil Guinness, Farmleigh house was purchased by
Mr. Guinness in 1886 as a result of him floating his brewery on the Stock Exchange which
increased his wealth and social standings and functioned as his trigger to purchase and renovate
the house. Despite the extensive rebuild, Edward and his wife Adelaide spent little time there.
Their primary residence was in London and even when in Dublin they stayed at 80 St. Stephen’s
Green. Most time spent in Farmleigh house was during the spring and summer months but for
only weeks at a time.
Following Edwards death in 1927, Rupert, the eldest son would go on to be the second Earl of
Iveagh and inherited both Farmleigh and 80 St. Stephen’s green. Rupert would go on to sell 80 St
Stephen’s green in 1939. The second Earl of Iveagh was a former British MP but retired from the
role when he succeeded his father’s earldom. Gwendolen Guinness would go on to be his
predecessor as a British MP in November 1927, she served until her retirement in 1935.
Farmleigh was continuing to be passed on through the generations with the second Earl of
Iveagh passing the house to his grandson and heir Benjamin. Unlike the former owners,
Benjamin would call Farmleigh home and lived there with his wife, Miranda Guinness, and their
children. Benjamin was a great reader, he was a collector of rare books, parliamentary and early
bindings and first editions of the modern poets and playwrights. The wonderful library in
Farmleigh plays host to these wonderful collections of books.
Sadly, Benjamin’s passing in 1993 ended the connection of Farmleigh estate with the Gunnesses
as it was ultimately sold by Benjamin’s son Arthur to the Irish State in 1999.
Having become Ireland’s official guesthouse, many visitors across the world have now stayed in
the lavish estate. Guest including Presidents, Prime Ministers, Queens, Emperors, and UN
Secretary Generals. Noteworthy visits include Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister
Justin Trudeau and the Emperor and Empress of Japan. All these astound visitors get the
opportunity to enjoy everything Farmleigh estate has to offer from its majestic walks through
the walled Gardens to a remarkable collection of art, Farmleigh has it all.
Agriculture (Farmleigh is a working farm)
Farmleigh estate consists of seventy-eight acres that includes a busy working farm that is home
to many horses, donkeys and cows and are led by Herdsman Alan O’Farrell. Currently there are
two horses, Ellie, and Tyrone both 25 years old along with four donkeys who originated in the
donkey sanctuary in Cork, and are named Daragh, Ronnie, Barney and Rosie and have all found
a new home within the lands of Farmleigh.
The Kerry Cow at Farmleigh
Following the state’s ownership of Farmleigh, it was agreed that they would continue with
tradition and keep breathing cattle. In March 2002, Farmleigh began to build a herd of Kerry
Cattle with Muckross House supplying twelve head to start with. The very first calf was born on
the eighth of January 2003. These beautiful Kerry cattle are gorgeous to look at in every sense
with their shiny black coats and their magnificent horns. Visitors have an amazing opportunity to
see the herd from the paths located around the grounds.
Galway Sheep – Ireland’s only native sheep breed
Like Kerry cattle, another native breed that now resides within the grounds of Farmleigh are
Galway sheep. You will know when you pass the Galway sheep as you will see remarkable white,
hornless and a high-quality fleece of wool animals.
Alpacas at Farmleigh
In recent time Farmleigh has welcomed four new alpacas, Megaster, Marmalade, Senan, and
Walter to their wonderful farm. Originating from South America, Alpacas are social herd animals
of the Camelid Family and have been domesticated for over six hundred years. The arrival of
alpacas to Farmleigh just adds to the farms diversity and beauty and is well worth the visit.
The Benjamin Iveagh Library
Named after Benjamin Guinness, the 3 rd Earl of Iveagh, The Benjamin Iveagh library holds
extremely rare books, manuscripts, and fine bindings, with a total collection of more than 5,000
items. Historical manuscripts include the description of Ireland by Gerald of Wales dating from
1280, an Irish-language primer prepared for Queen Elizabeth I.
Within the printed books and pamphlets of the collection, all major Irish writers are present
including Joyce, Heaney, Beckett and Swift.
This remarkable and historic library holds some of the finest examples of decorative Irish
bookbinding’s from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.
The library is owned by Marsh’s Library and managed by the office of Public Works which hires a
Librarian to curate and manage the holdings. The year 2009, saw the collection donated by the
Guinness family to the Marsh’s Library.
With a brilliant new scheme introduced by OPW, primary and secondary schools can get free
tours of Farmleigh, discovering its beauty and all the history that evolved the estate. Visits must
be booked during the school year and follow the national curriculum approved by the
Department of Education and Skills.
To book a visit or to find out further information, please phone 01 8155914 or email
Access to the Farmleigh house is granted via guided tours, which is available from mid-March to
December between 10.00am and 17.30pm. Tickets are limited and operate on a first come first
serve basis or online booking. The exciting and insightful tours will take you from the eighteenth
century, when building commenced to how it looks in the present day. The tour is
approximately 50 minutes longer with ticket prices at €8.00 for adults and FREE for children
under the age of twelve.
For more information or for group bookings email email@example.com or call us on 01 815
Farmleigh farmers market is a monthly market located on the beautiful grounds of Farmleigh,
where there is something the suits everyone’s taste buds. On display you will have award
winning food producers and vendors. Explore the beautiful products crafted by local craft stands
where you might pick up something as a present. Get on down and take in the beautiful grounds
that plays hosts to this unique and special farmer’s market.
Dates for the upcoming markets are.
Sunday 5th November, 10am – 5pm.
Christmas Markets: Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd December, 10am – 5pm.
Christmas Markets: Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th December, 10am – 5pm.
Christmas Markets: Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th December, 10am – 5pm
The Boathouse Restaurant
The boathouse restaurant overlooking the beautiful lake at farmleigh is a wonderful place to get
some quality food that is complemented by an excellent wine/drink’s portfolio, specialty coffees
and confectionary for those sweet tooths. Divulge and enjoy one of Dublin’s best kept secrets,
opened 7 days a week, all year round from 10am – 5pm.