From Thurles to Peking


MEALY’S TWO-DAY Summer Fine and Decorative Art auction next week features jewellery, paintings, and furniture from the late Matty Ryan’s home at Liberty Square, Thurles, Co Tipperary.

Ryan, who died in 2010, was a well-known collector, socialite, equestrian and jeweller whose clients improbably included members of the British royal family.

According to Mealy’s he had “exquisite taste” and his “drawing room in Thurles resembled Clarence House” – the London home of the late Queen Mother. In style, perhaps, though not in substance. His collection is essentially bling for the horsey set (which means it should sell very well) and among the 120 lots are “a white gold and diamond horse and jockey brooch”, estimated at €800-€1,150; and a painting of the famous racehorse, Portrait of Sadler’s Wells by Peter Deighan, estimated at €300-€400.

From a different collector in Tipperary comes a collection of antique walking sticks and canes to be sold in batches with estimates ranging from €80-€220. Made of malacca, ebony, blackthorn or bamboo, some have ivory or horn handles; some are silver-mounted; while others are described as “gadget sticks” – topped, for example, with a compass or an opera glass finial.

A “Chinese zesede shuijing” is attracting Oriental interest. The 9½ inch-high vase was carved from a piece of purple quartz or amethyst and depicts a segment of a blossoming plum tree decorated with birds, branches and flowers.

Mealy’s said it could be a “ritual vessel or talisman” and was “Qing Dynasty, possibly Qianlong” (the emperor) with “character marks that might indicate Forbidden Palace provenance.” The piece was owned by Lim Boon Keng (1869-1957), a Malayan Chinese doctor and businessman renowned for social and educational reforms in Singapore and China, and was consigned for sale by a descendant who lives in England. The estimate is €15,000-€25,000.

Viewing at Mealy’s in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny begins today at noon.