An auction timed for The Gathering
Mementoes of all aspects of Irish history in Dublin auction
The brass and bronze Freedom Box, above, from 1910, with the Freedom of the City of Dublin scroll, €7,000-€12,000
Brass buttons, reputedly belonging to Michael Collins, €1,500-€2,000
Correspondence sent in 1927 to Eoin O’Duffy by Lady Lavery, €1,000-€1,500
A major auction in Dublin later this month, titled “A Gathering of all things Irish”, is timed to catch the attention of emigrants and members of the global diaspora visiting home. The sale at the Clyde Court Hotel in Ballsbridge is by Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers and includes a huge range of collectibles from Irish life and history, from Michael Collins memorabilia to rare GAA medals and programmes.
There will be a viewing day on Wednesday at the company’s saleroom in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny, before the 950 lots are moved to the hotel in Dublin for viewing on Sunday and Monday.
A memento of Michael Collins, a set of brass buttons reputedly found in his tunic pocket on the day he died in August 1922, is certain to attract interest. The buttons (€1,500-€2,000) are being sold along with a note signed by his sister, Margaret, who presented them to Eoin O’Duffy.
A very different Irish hero is recalled in lot 553. The elaborate Irish arts and crafts box, decorated with brass, bronze, copper, coloured marbles and semi-precious stones, was used to present the Freedom of the City of Dublin to Sir Charles A Cameron in 1910.
He was chief medical officer for Dublin Corporation and was honoured for his efforts “to lift the City from its notoriety of having the highest death rate in Europe”. His principal achievement was the installation of an efficient sewage treatment system, which has lasted almost unchanged to the present day. The Freedom Box contains the original illuminated, silk-mounted scroll and is estimated at €7,000-€12,000.
A collection of three letters and a telegram, sent from London in 1927 to Eoin O’Duffy by Hazel Lady Lavery is estimated at €1,000-€1,500.
In the correspondence, Lady Lavery expresses her grief at the death, by assassination on July 10th, of the minister for justice Kevin O’Higgins (with whom she had, apparently, had a secret affair). She declares herself to be “frozen in misery and utterly alone” and describes the minister’s death as “such a cruel, cruel thing – for us all and our Ireland”.
A collection of poignant and evocative letters and postcards sent by a soldier from Flanders during the first World War is estimated at €600-€800. Henry Meagher, a descendant of the Young Irelanders’ leader TF Meagher, served with the First Northumbrian Brigade in the British Expeditionary Force and wrote to Edmund Downey, editor of the Waterford News.
A letter dated August 1915 gives news of a German attack using chlorine gas and the subsequent second Battle of Ypres. There are harrowing eyewitness details of the intense fighting and shelling, and an evocative description of exhausted soldiers attending Mass having come straight from the trenches: “Mud from head to foot, uniforms stained & torn, unshaved & unwashed.”