"Views of Four Presidencies (1938-1975)" - exhibition of the records of the Office of the Secretary to the President
Record series descriptions (continued)
PRES 2 - Visitors' Books
This series consists of bound volumes containing signatures of visiting foreign heads of state and government, foreign parliamentary representatives and foreign diplomatic representatives, all of whom were required to sign the visitors' book in Áras an Uachtaráin when making a call on the President. The volume also includes signatures of representatives of social, cultural, religious, professional and vocational organisations, as well as those of Taoisigh and Government Ministers, and of senior Irish civil servants making courtesy calls, such as Irish diplomatic representatives serving abroad.
The vast majority of signatures in the books are those of visiting heads of state, such as the Monegasque royal family, who visited on 29 August 1963 (PRES 2/2003/19/1), and of foreign diplomatic representatives making routine courtesy calls, such as Eduard Hempel, the German ambassador to Ireland during the Second World War, who made a courtesy call on 1 January 1940, together with other members of the diplomatic corps (PRES 2/96/7/1).
The signatures of senior members of the main religious denominations in Ireland are evident, as are those of members of the literary and entertainment worlds; for example, the signatures of Leslie Howard (the actor who played Ashley Wilkes in the film Gone with the Wind) and John Betjeman (British Poet Laureate) were entered in the book on 13 April 1942 (PRES 2/96/7/1). Also to be found in the same visitors' book is the signature of Count John McCormack, the Irish tenor, who visited on 7 October 1938 (PRES 2/96/7/1). In later years, the signatures of those prominent in the world of television feature in the visitors' books, such as that of Eamonn Andrews, Director General of RTE and later presenter of the BBC television programme This is Your Life, who was received by the President on 29 July 1959 (PRES 2/96/7/3).
Each book is in columnar format, recording the date of visit and containing the visitor's signature. Cross-references to any related office file were often also noted. These office files are now contained in PRES 1. There is an apparent overlap in dates between several of the volumes in the series, which can possibly be accounted for by the fact that two visitors' books seem to have been simultaneously in use.
PRES 3 - Register of Executed Documents
This series consists of one bound volume recording details of instruments signed by the President or by the Presidential Commission. Entries in the register are in chronological order, recording details of the instrument executed, including serial number, 'class of document' such as army commission, warrant, minute of appointment or minute of resignation, and name of the person to whom the instrument refers. Also recorded are the relevant official file reference number of both the Office of the Secretary to the President and the Department of the Taoiseach, and the date of execution of the instrument. The volume includes two typescript sheets affixed to the flyleaf, which describe the nature of the documents registered, the manner of their registration and the type of instruments not recorded, such as bills.
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Commentary by Dr Diarmaid Ferriter
Administrative history of the Office of the Secretary to the President
Online gallery of documents from the collection