‘GPO’ Proclamation to be auctioned in Dublin
Document is said to have been salvaged from ruins of post office by rebels’ medical officer
Copy of the 1916 Proclamation reputedly taken out of the GPO by James Ryan. It is due to be auctioned in Dublin in April.
A copy of the 1916 Proclamation, reputedly salvaged from the burning ruins of the GPO by the medical officer to the rebels, has come to light and is to be sold at auction in Dublin.
James Ryan, a final-year medical student at UCD and a member of the Irish Volunteers, was one of the last men to leave the burning GPO along with the wounded James Connolly, who he had tended.
Ryan took the document with him and kept it until his death in 1970. It was subsequently sold privately by his family for an undisclosed sum to a collector.
That collector has decided to put it on the market in a sale of historical memorabilia at Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers on April 23rd, the eve of the centenary of the start of the Rising.
The auctioneers said that, according to the Ryan family, “one of [James] Ryan’s final acts within the GPO was to remove this Proclamation from the wall prior to the surrender”.
The Proclamation – one of only 25 surviving copies (of the 1,000 printed) still in private hands – has been assigned what the auctioneers said was a “conservative estimate of €100,000-€150,000”.
The estimate is surprisingly low as another copy of the Proclamation sold at Sotheby’s in London in December for £305,000.
The auctioneers said they did not want to deter potential bidders with a “too-high estimate”.
He was a final-year medical student in 1916, and was appointed as medical officer of the GPO garrison.
After the Rising he was arrested by the British and sent to prison in England and Wales.
However, he was released in time to return to Dublin to sit – and pass – his final medical exams in 1917.
The following year he was elected as a Sinn Féin MP for the Westminster seat of Wexford South in the 1918 general election.
He later became a TD for Wexford, serving for 47 years.
He opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty and eventually became a founder member of Fianna Fáil.
During a long political career, he served as a cabinet minister for four decades, most notably as minister for agriculture (1932-1947) and minister for finance (1957-1965). He served in the governments of two taoisigh – Éamon de Valera and Seán Lemass.
Although he had quit his medical career in the 1920s, he was popularly known as Dr Jim Ryan, and, although a TD for Wexford, he bought and lived on a farm near Delgany, Co Wicklow.
He was married to Kerry woman Máirín Cregan, a veteran of Cumann na mBan.
O’Kelly first married Mary Kate Ryan and, following her death, Phyllis Ryan.
Another sister of Ryan’s, Josephine “Min” Ryan, married Richard Mulcahy, who became leader of Fine Gael.
Ryan retired as a TD in 1965 and was then elected to the Seanad, where his son, Eoin Ryan snr, was also a member. He died in 1970.