This sort of thing is devised simply to raise Cusackian hackles: having been used in every presidential inauguration in the history of the State until now, Ireland’s viceregal throne (above, left) is being replaced as the presidential chair. Supposedly it had become “a bit natty”, and no-one in the Office of Public Works knew so much as a single decent furniture restorer to get it back into condition. Scandalous! Its successor (above, right) was commissioned from furniture designer John Lee, and is rather new rite, as they say in London Catholic circles.
The thrones of the Viceroy and Vicereine of Ireland once sat on a raised dais in St. Patrick’s Hall in Dublin Castle. After dominion status was granted and the Irish Free State was born, the thrones had their crowns knocked off and the Victorian royal cypher removed. The harp of the Irish state arms was embroidered onto the Viceroy’s throne and it was first used as a presidential chair during the inauguration of Prof. Douglas Hyde as the first President of Ireland in 1938. The Vicereine’s throne, meanwhile, was shorn of its gold and is now employed as the chair of the Cathaoirleach, the presiding officer of Seanad Éireann.
The fabric on the thrones was originally a quite elaborate version of the British royal arms, surrounded by shamrocks. I’ll admit that the hodge-podge, two-tone blues of the throne as it is now is a bit jarring, but surely something similar to the original fabric can be commissioned, with the state arms surrounded by shamrocks, and perhaps the addition of the harp to the blank space where the royal cypher once was. Recycle, don’t replace!