Dublin Castle originally built as a defensive fortification during the Norman period, evolved into the seat of British power, housing the mechanisms of the British government in Ireland. The Lord Lieutenant or the Viceroy of Ireland, the representative of the British crown, resided in the Castle. Parliament and the royal courts also took place in the Castle before moving into buildings of their own. More importantly, it became a potent symbol to the Irish people of British oppression.
On this day in 1922, Michael Collins, the Chairman (Prime Minister) of the Provisional Government of Ireland created under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, accepted control of Dublin Castle from Lord Lieutenant FitzAlan. The turnover symbolised the end of British rule in Ireland, even though the Irish Free State would remain part of the Commonwealth until 1949 and the six counties still remain under British rule. When Collins arrived at Dublin Castle Lord Lieutenant FitzAlan reportedly said, “you are seven minutes late, Mr. Collins” to which Collins replied “Blasted, you’ve been here seven centuries, what difference does seven minutes make now that you’re leaving.”