Presidential chair kept under wraps
Published 09/11/2011 | 05:00
THE new inauguration chair to be used by President-elect Michael D Higgins at his swearing-in ceremony on Friday was being kept under wraps yesterday.
Commissioned by the Office of Public Works (OPW) and crafted in Co Kildare, it replaces the 19th-century viceregal throne (pictured), which was initially used for British viceroys or lord lieutenants of Ireland.
It was altered for use by the Irish government to inaugurate the first President of Ireland, Douglas Hyde, and for all successive presidents, by removing a carved crown and replacing it with the state harp.
The OPW's tendering process was won by John Lee, who runs his own business in Pagestown, Maynooth.
The requirement was for a chair that would reflect "the national and pre-eminent role of the president", without being "overwhelming or dominating". Mr Lee, who studied furniture design at Galway/Mayo IT, drew inspiration from the phrase 'cead mile failte' and from the ambassadorial role of the presidency.
He produced a contemporary chair, made in quarter-sawn native white oak that features free-flowing welcoming arms and a gold-embossed state harp on an Irish presidential blue leather hide for the chair back. Final touches were yesterday being put to arrangements for the ceremony at Dublin Castle, which gets under way at 11.30am.