The Irish House of Lords (Irish: Teach na dTiarnaÝ) was the upper house of the Parliament of Ireland that existed from mediŠval times until 1800. It was abolished along with the Irish House of Commons by the Act of Union.
The Lords' function was to debate and approve, block or alter Bills that were passed by the Irish House of Commons and proposed by the Lord Deputy of Ireland on behalf of the monarch.
The House of Lords was presided over by the Lord Chancellor, who sat on the woolsack, a large seat stuffed with wool from each of the three lands of England, Ireland and Scotland. At the state opening of the Irish parliament Members of Parliament were summoned to the House of Lords from the House of Commons chamber by Black Rod, a royal official who would "command the members on behalf of His Excellency to attend him in the chamber of peers" Sessions were formally opened by the Speech from the Throne by the Lord Lieutenant, who sat on the throne beneath a canopy of crimson velvet.
Sessions were generally held at Dublin Castle in the 16th and 17th centuries, until the opening of the Irish Houses of Parliament in the 1730s.
Becoming a lord gave a higher social rank over all commoners. While the English system of nobility was adopted, nobility was a common element of European culture during the life of the Irish House of Lords.
The Lords started as a group of barons in the Lordship of Ireland that was generally limited to the Pale, a variable area around Dublin subject to English law. They sat as a group, not as a separate House, from the first meeting of the Irish parliament in 1297. From the establishment of the Kingdom of Ireland in 1542 the Lords included a large number of new Gaelic and Norman lords under the policy of surrender and regrant.
Religious division was reflected in the House, but as late as the 1689 "Patriot Parliament" a majority of Lords had remained Roman Catholics, while the administration and a slight majority in the Commons were Anglican. By 1632 the (Catholic) Lord Baltimore established colonies in Newfoundland and Maryland. In 1634 the campaign to secure "The Graces" came to a head. Most of these Catholic lords lost their titles in the ensuing 1641 rebellion, notably during the 1652 Cromwellian Settlement. Most dispossessed lords were regranted their lands after the Restoration of 1660 by the Act of Settlement 1662. Others took the losing side in the Williamite War in Ireland (1689-91), and a much smaller number of them were re-granted their lands in the 18th century.
By the 1790s most of the Lords personified and wanted to protect the "Protestant Ascendancy". By the time of its abolition in 1800 some of the peerages were very ancient, such as the lords Kingsale, created in 1397, and the viscounts Gormanston from 1478. The first Earl of Kildare had been created in 1316.
Following the Act of Union in 1800, the peerage of Ireland elected just 28 of their number to sit in the United Kingdom House of Lords, described as the "representative peers". This practice ended in 1922 with the establishment of the Irish Free State. Other newly-created Irish peers, such as Clive of India and Lord Curzon, were able to stand for election to the UK House of Commons (not being UK Peers), without giving them a seat in the British House of Lords. This was a convenient way of giving a title for reasons of prestige to someone who expected to sit in the British House of Commons.
Today the 18th century Irish Parliament building on College Green in Dublin is an office of the commercial Bank of Ireland and visitors can view the Irish House of Lords chamber within the building.