First draft of national anthem sells for €760,000

Thu, Apr 13, 2006, 01:00

The first draft of the national anthem, Amhrán na bhFiann, was sold at auction in Dublin yesterday for €760,000.

The sale was part of a 480-lot "Independence" auction at James Adam & Sons, which also included an original copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

More than 1,000 people registered to bid online, by phone and in the room for the auction, billed as the most comprehensive and significant sale of items related to Irish history seen to date.

The handwritten version of the national anthem, written in English on copybook paper by Peadar Kearney, was bought by an anonymous telephone bidder but did not reach the auctioneer's estimated price of between €800,000 and €1.2 million.

Stuart Cole, director with James Adam & Sons, said they believed the anthem would remain in the country.

Many of the other items for sale far exceeded their guide prices.

The copy of the Proclamation was quoted at €180,000 and sold for €200,000. Printed at Liberty Hall in Dublin, the document was read by Pádraig Pearse from the steps of the GPO on O'Connell Street on Easter Monday in 1916.

The 1916 medal posthumously awarded to Thomas Clarke and described as the "holy grail for medal collectors" was valued at up to €15,000 but sold to a phone bidder for €105,000.

And a carved oak box that had been presented to Clarke by the mayor of Limerick, with a plaque reading "The Freedom of Limerick", was valued at up to €8,000 but sold to a private bidder in the auction room for €65,000.

An Irish Volunteers leather belt and pouch with bayonet and scabbard sold in the morning sale for €5,000, having been quoted at €800.

And a pound sterling note with a letter identifying it as having been taken from Clarke after his arrest on April 30th, 1916, was valued at €5,000 but fetched €12,000.

A package of items relating to the first Dáil and including "The Declaration of Independence" was expected to fetch up to €1,500 but sold for €20,000.

A farewell note from Clarke to his wife Kathleen, written in Richmond Barracks, was quoted at €20,000 but sold to a private bidder for €75,000.

Less popular items included the Tricolour reputed to have flown from the GPO during the Rising and a portable typewriter used by Michael Collins when he was minister for finance. Both items were withdrawn from the sale.