Value of GAA medals rockets

Nickey Rackard’s medal makes €17,500 - a record at auction, while mugshots make over estimate


GAA medals are not just tokens of honour and glory. Some have significant financial value and are sought after by a growing band of Irish collectors at home and overseas. Winners of All-Ireland medals, for either hurling or football, might need to look afresh at their household contents insurance policies in light of this week’s auction results.

The 1955 All-Ireland hurling final medal won by the late Nickey Rackard of Wexford sold for €17,500 in Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers’ Rare Book and Collectors sale in Dublin on Tuesday.

The 9ct gold medal,estimated at €5,000-€7,000, attracted telephone and online interest but was bought by a bidder in the saleroom. The result, greeted by applause, was later described by the auctioneer as the highest price ever achieved for a hurling medal at auction. Numerous other items of GAA memorabilia went under the hammer including a medal awarded to an unidentified member of the Kerry team that won the 1914 All-Ireland football final, €4,800 (€2,000-€3,000); and the medal won by Cork hurler Willie Clancy (inscribed Liam Mac Fhlannchaidh) together with a miniature silver replica of the Liam McCarthy Cup, €3,600 (€3,000-€4,000).

Items being sold by descendants of Kevin Barry also attracted numerous bidders. His science notebook from his schooldays at Belvedere College sold for €5,300, way above the estimate (€1,000-€1,500). A certificate from the UCD Medical School confirming that Barry had attended courses in physics, chemistry, botany and zoology made €2,300 (€600-€800). A copy of his birth certificate, specially issued in 1920 at the hangman’s request to comply with a legal requirement, sold for €2,900 (€300-€400).

Strong book sales

A selection of European newspapers featuring illustrated stories about quirky events in Ireland, including Italy’s La Tribuna Illustrata’s 1951 report about a lioness on the loose in Dublin’s Fairview, sold for €380 (€350-€450).

A first edition of a 1933 Irish translation of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula made €220 (€160-€220).The book would have made even more with the original dust-jacket. A collection of early 20th century American criminal identification cards containing personal details and mug-shots of 10 Irish emigrants, made by various US police forces, sold for €540 (€250-€350).

Among the rare books and manuscripts a 15th-century Flemish Book of Hours sold for €6,200 (€4,000-€6,000) and a first edition of Dubliners by James Joyce made €5,800 (€2,500-€3,500). A rare travel book: The Travels of Ali Bey in Morocco, Tripoli, Cyprus, Egypt, Arabia, Syria, and Turkey, Between the Years 1803 And 1807 by Ali Bey (the pseudonym of Spanish explorer Domingo Badia y Leblich) made €4,200 (€2,000- €3,000).

Overall, 85 per cent of the 733 lots sold. Full results at

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