Skip to main content

The history of Ireland's diplomatic relations with the Holy See


While Ireland's relationship with the Holy See goes back centuries, formal diplomatic relations date to 1929 when the new Irish Free State and the Holy See established formal ties.

In 1946, the Irish State purchased the Villa Spada on the Gianicolo Hill in Rome, and this became the Irish Embassy to the Holy See. This was Ireland's first full Embassy abroad.  The Embassy remained at the Villa Spada until the decision was made in 2011 to close the resident mission to the Holy See, one of three missions closed at the time. 

When the Embassy reopened in 2014 it relocated to a building owned by the Vatican near St. Peter's Square. The current Ambassador is Derek Hannon who presented his credentials to Pope Francis in 2018. Frances Collins was nominated to replace Ambassador Hannon and is expected to arrive in Rome in October 2022.


Ireland's Heads of Mission to the Holy See

Charles Bewley

William J B MacAuley

Denis McDonald                             

Thomas J Kiernan

Patrick Joseph Walshe

Denis McDonald

Cornelius Cremin

Leo T McCauley

Thomas Commins

Joseph Shields

Thomas Commins

Gerald Woods

John Molloy

Francis Coffey

Brendan Dillon

Patrick Power

Gearóid Ó Broin

Eamonn Ó Tuathail

Bernard Davenport

Philip McDonagh

Noel Fahey

David Cooney (non-resident)

Emma Madigan

Derek Hannon

Frances Collins (incoming Autumn 2022)