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Farmleigh is the official Irish State guest house. It was formerly one of the Dublin residences of the Guinness family. It is situated on an elevated position above the River Liffey to the north-west of the Phoenix Park, in the civil parish of Castleknock. The estate of 78 acres consists of extensive private gardens with stands of mature cypress, pine and oak trees, a boating pond, walled garden, sunken garden, out offices and a herd of rare native Kerry cattle. It was purchased by the Government of Ireland from the 4th Earl of Iveagh in 1999 for €29.2 million. A state body—the Office of Public Works (OPW)—spent in the region of €23 million restoring the house, gardens and curvilinear glasshouses, bringing the total cost to the state to €52.2 million. Farmleigh was opened to the public in July 2001.
The Office of Public Works on behalf of the Government in June 1999 and developed in order to provide accommodation for visiting dignitaries and guests of the nation, for high level Government meetings and for enjoyment by the public.
Farmleigh remains a unique representation of its heyday, the Edwardian period, when wealthy industrialists had replaced landowners as the builders of large mansions in Ireland. Their tastes were eclectic, mising a variety of architectural styles and decors. Edward Cecil Guinness first Earl of Iveagh, the great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, built Farmleigh around a smaller Georgian house in the 1880's. Many of the artworks and furnishings he collected for Farmleigh remain in the house on loan from the Guinness family to the State. The Benjamin Iveagh collection of rare books, bindings and manuscripts is held in the Library. The extensive pleasure grounds are a wonderful collection of Victorian and Edwardian ornamental features with walled and sunken gardens, scenic lakeside walks and a range of plants that provide both visual and horticultural interest throughout the seasons. The Estate also boasts a working farm with a herd of Kerry Black cows. Farmleigh is managed by Facilities Management Services at the Office of Public Works.