Medals awarded to Rising Volunteers to be auctioned in US
De Valera-led government honoured 1916 and War of Independence veterans in 1941
The medals of former president of Ireland Seán T O’Kelly against the pennant carried on the president’s car. Photograph: Spink
Dozens of medals awarded to Volunteers who fought in the Easter Rising and the War of Independence are to be auctioned this month in New York.
The historically important “Liberty Collection” was brought together over decades by a US collector. It includes a medal awarded posthumously to Frank Sheridan of the Dublin Brigade, who died in November 1916 from ill-treatment received in Richmond Barracks after the Rising.
It also includes several medals and other memorabilia belonging to former president of Ireland, Seán T O’Kelly, which were put up for auction by his family after he died in November 1966.
In 1941, the Éamon de Valera-led government decided to award 1916 service medals to 2,411 veterans, or to their families if they had been killed during Easter Week or later during the War of Independence.
The medals issued to surviving participants were not inscribed with their names, but the medals given to the next-of-kin of those who had died were personally marked.
Patrick Pearse’s medal, for example, was No 68, while his brother Willie’s was No 69. Both are held at the Pearse Museum in St Enda’s Park, Rathfarnham, where Pearse taught in the school on the site.
The New York collection includes the medal given to Michael Cullen, who brought down British artillery fire upon himself in a bid to ensure a tower near Boland’s Mills was not taken by the British.