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The Embassy’s History

Find out more about the Embassy’s history, including the specially commissioned building at Arkana Street, and our former Ambassadors

Embassy of Ireland in Canberra, Australia

  • History of the Embassy
  • Former Ambassadors

History of the Embassy

The Irish Embassy to Australia was established in Canberra in 1946.

Dr. T. J. Kiernan, Ireland’s first Ambassador to Australia, began his posting at the Hotel Canberra, before moving to Deakin. Office space was then taken at Bank House in Civic where the Chancery was located for a number of years.

The Irish Government took up an offer of a lease of land in the diplomatic quarter of Yarralumla and the new Chancery was established there in 1980. Diplomatic missions in this quarter are requested to design their buildings in a traditional style reflecting that of their respective home countries. After some consideration it was decided to design the new Irish Embassy as a modern interpretation of a traditional Irish cottage, with white-washed walls and a slate roof.

A new Ambassador’s Residence was built on the same site in 2004, following the same theme. The interior furnishings of the Residence were made in Ireland and are contemporary in nature. The design of the furniture invokes Celtic mythology, the stars and the wider universe and the relationship between Ireland and Australia.

Former Ambassadors

There have been seventeen Irish Ambassadors to Australia.

Dr. T.J. Kiernan September 1946 December 1954
Leo Skentelbery December 1954 March 1957
William B. Butler March 1957 December 1960
Sean Kennan January 1961 October 1963
Eoin MacWhite May 1964  October 1967 
Brian Durnin  August 1967  March 1969 
Francis Coffey  April 1969  May 1971 
Gerry Woods  July 1971  December 1974 
Florrie O’Riordan  January 1975  November 1981 
Joseph Small  November 1981  February 1987 
James Sharkey  February 1987  August 1989 
Martin Burke  September 1989  July 1995 
Richard O’Brien  July 1995  August 2002 
Declan Kelly  September 2002  September 2006 
Máirtín Ó Fainín  October 2006  August 2011 
Noel White  January 2012  August 2016
Breandán Ó Caollaí September 2016 to date