The official state car in Ireland is a 1947 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith. Douglas Hyde, the first president of Ireland was provided with a state car, but his near fatal stroke early into his term of office meant that he rarely traveled in public. When he retired in 1945 the Irish state decided that, his successor, Seán T. O'Kelly, needed a special state vehicle for formal occasions. The daily transport of the president of Ireland and the Taoiseach are Mercedes-Benz S-Class saloons W221.
Douglas Hyde, the first president of Ireland was provided with a state car, but his near fatal stroke early into his term of office meant that he rarely travelled in public. When he retired in 1945 the Irish state decided that, his successor, Seán T. O'Kelly, needed a special state vehicle for formal occasions. However what type of vehicle it should be caused an immediate row between the President-elect Seán T. O'Kelly and the Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera. O'Kelly wanted to have a state horse-drawn carriage whereas de Valera wished to have a car.
Initially O'Kelly got his wish and he was transported to the 1945 Irish presidential inauguration in the landau of the late Queen Alexandra the Queen Mother, which had been hired specially from a Dublin livery company. The landau was accompanied by the Irish presidential Mounted Escort, the Blue Hussars.
Contrary to expectations, the use of the landau proved a major success. In response, the new Irish state travel company, Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) offered to build a special presidential carriage for use on state occasions. However in his enthusiasm for the project and contrary to warnings that the horses had not yet been fully trained to deal with crowds, the President insisted that the new carriage, drawn by horses, be used to bring him to the historic Dublin Horse Show at the Royal Dublin Society in August 1946. The crowds stood up and cheered as the President and Mrs O'Kelly entered the showgrounds in the carriage. The horses took fright, reared up and the coach jackknifed. De Valera seized the moment and abolished the use of the presidential carriage (except for going to the RDS). Instead he ordered that the Irish state buy a new Rolls-Royce. The Blue Hussars were abolished the following year.
The car was always maintained by the Department of Defence and driven by a Military driver, until President Erskine H. Childers took office, then it was passed over to the Garda Síochána where it had been maintained since and driven by a Garda.
It is necessary to emphasize that the car was almost sold off by the government of the day at the end of the 1960's early 70's but due to the intervention of some classic cars enthusiasts it was saved for the state.
Though used by Seán T. O'Kelly from 1947 the car is most strongly associated with his successor, Éamon de Valera, who served two full terms, holding office from 1959 to 1973. De Valera came to embody the presidency, with its symbols in turn associated personally with him, it earned the nickname Dev's Car because of his high profile use of it. Part of that was a product of the appearance of Telifís Éireann<ref>It was then known Telifís Éireann, it is now called RTÉ.</ref>, Ireland's national broadcasting station, during his first term, allowing a greater public profile for whomever was president.
The historic 1947 Rolls-Royce has continued to be used in some state ceremonies, such as the National Day of Commemoration and most notably at the Irish presidential inauguration, where the car is used to transport the President (or president-elect) to and from the ceremony in Dublin Castle. It was used most recently at the 2004 inauguration of the eighth president of Ireland, Mary McAleese.
- Stately vehicle of seven Irish presidents rolls into its 60s Irish Independent, 17 March 2008