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Please be advised that the Embassy of Ireland, Sweden website has moved and this page is no longer being updated. The Embassy website is now available at Ireland.ie/stockholm.

History of the Embassy of Ireland in Sweden

The first Irish official presence in Sweden was a legation which opened in Stockholm in 1946. 

The Irish diplomatic service in the middle of the last century was small and it was only as part of the post-World War II expansion that opening of a mission in Stockholm was considered.

Between the wars, Irish and Swedish diplomats met and worked together in the League of Nations.  Throughout the Second World War both states maintained their neutrality.  Post-war Ireland began a small expansion of its foreign service.  In June 1946 a legation opened in Stockholm with veteran diplomat William Warnock appointed as Chargé d’Affaires en titre. 

There were a number of exchanges between the states in the early years of diplomatic relations including a Swedish navel flotilla visit to Dublin and exchanges between medical students.   Early levels of bilateral trade were modest and in Sweden’s favour.  Cultural and education links developed strongly and a Swedish-Irish Society was founded in Stockholm in May 1949. 

The Ambassador at Stockholm was appointed as non-resident Ambassador to Norway (1950) and also to Finland (1962).  This led to comparisons at the time to the shamrock itself.

Ireland looked to Sweden in the 1950s and 1960s as an exemplar in areas varying from freedom of expression, farming and food hygiene to fitness training.  An Irish institute was founded in Uppsala University in 1952, headed by Celtic scholar, Dr James Carney.  His post in Uppsala was made possible at the time by a grant from the Department of External Affairs.  The connection with the University has developed through the decades and remains an important cultural link with Sweden to this day.

The bilateral relationship between Ireland and Sweden changed a gear in 1955 when Ireland joined the United Nations.  As European neutral states both shared similar values and had a common outlook on disarmament.  The evolution of UN peacekeeping under Swedish Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld saw Irish and Swedish contingents serving side-by-side in Congo and later in Cyprus as part of largescale peacekeeping missions in the 1960s. 

A snapshot of bilateral trade in 1962 reveals that Ireland exported mainly beef and copper ore to Sweden and imported cars, trucks, ores and paper or wood.  At $1.4m these exports were less than 1% of Ireland’s overall total.  Imports from Sweden of $3.8m were 2.5% of Ireland’s overall imports.   Overall there was a fourfold increase in trade with Scandinavia in the 1960s.  

Important links developed between the countries in the 1960s including via an increased consciousness in Ireland of the outdoor life and environment in Sweden.  Nonetheless, the Irish community in Stockholm remained small – some 150 people by the late 1960s.

In 1973 Mary Tinney became Ireland’s first female Ambassador when she was appointed as Envoy to Sweden.  As she departed in 1978 Irish and Swedish soldiers were again poised to serve side-by-side in a United Nations peacekeeping operation in Lebanon with UNIFIL.

UNIFIL, along with disarmament, affairs in Southern Africa and bilateral trade were among subjects discussed in Dublin between Sweden’s Foreign Minister Lennart Bodström and Minister for Foreign Affairs Peter Barry when they met in 1984.  Concepts of Swedish neutrality were also of particular interest to Ireland at that time. This was the first bilateral visit to Ireland at this level since the two states had established direct diplomatic relations. 

By 1983 Ireland exported over £100m annually of office equipment, high-tech goods and steel to Sweden.  Imports were at £112m, mainly paper and wood.  There were an estimated 750 Irish residents in Sweden and 180 Swedes resident in Ireland – many working with 27 Swedish companies operating in Ireland at that time. 

During the 1988 Dublin Millennium celebrations there was a major Swedish promotion in the city to celebrate Viking origins.  This included a visit by the HSMS Carlskrona while Swedish design, goods and travel to the country were promoted.  Irish palates were also introduced to Swedish smorgasbord for the first time.  At the time, fifty Swedish companies were operating in Ireland – one third of them subsidiaries of Swedish multinationals.  By 1989 Sweden was Ireland’s ninth largest trading partner and a number of Ministerial visits took place during the period.

These visits also laid the groundwork for the visit by King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia to Ireland in 1992.  Trade by then was rising to almost £450m per annum and was generally balanced.  Major Swedish companies in Ireland included Ericsson, Volvo, Saab as well as Tetra Laval and STORA.  A number of Swedish financial firms were also located in the International Financial Services Centre in Dublin’s docklands.  There were 30,000 Swedish visitors to Ireland in 1993 most of whom were under 35 years of age.  They were no doubt coming to Ireland in part inspired by U2, Enya and films such as “My Left Foot”. 

Through the 1990s, Ireland was highly supportive of Sweden’s ambition to join the EC.  Sweden’s entry into the Community on 1 January 1995 brought in not only another European neutral but a state with which Ireland was used to doing business with internationally.  Shared values, a commitment to the rule of international law and to the role of the United Nations continue to move Ireland and Sweden in the same direction.  The State Visit to Ireland by King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia in May 2019 was a testament to enduring strong links and shared values and perspectives.

List of diplomatic representatives of Ireland to Sweden

Chargé d’Affaires

William Warnock

1947 – 1950



Ministers Plenipotentiary

William P. Fay


Brian Gallagher

1951 - 1955

Josephine McNeill


Joseph Brennan

1955 - 1959




John A. Belton

1959 – 1964

Valentin Iremonger

1964 – 1967

T.J. Horan

1967 – 1973

Mary Tinney

1973 – 1978

Dermot Waldron

1979 – 1983

Gearóid Ó Broin

1984 – 1986

Padráig de Paor

1986 – 1991

Paul Dempsey  

1991 – 1995

Martin Burke

1995 – 2001

Patrick McCabe

2002 – 2005

Donal Hammill

2005 – 2011

James Carroll

2011 – 2014

Orla O’Hanrahan

2014 – 2017

Dympna Hayes

2017 – 2020

Austin Gormley

2020 - 2023

Barbara Jones

2023 - present

With thanks to Dr Michael Kennedy of the Royal Irish Academy.