Auctions of rare Irish books, manuscripts and maps

Three auctions offer huge selection for collectors and special Christmas gifts

Three auctions in Dublin this week offer a wonderful selection of rare books and maps of interest to both collectors and anyone seeking a unique gift.

On Monday (December 14th), Adam's in St Stephen's Green will auction "The Tim Vignoles Collection of Irish Books" at 11.30am. Highlights include numerous signed first and special editions of books by Séamus Heaney including Bog Poems, illustrated by the artist Barrie Cooke, number 15 of a limited edition of 150, published by the Rainbow Press in May 1975, and estimated at €2,500-€3,500.

A copy of The Táin, translated by Thomas Kinsella from the Irish Táin Bo Cuailnge, with 131 brush drawings by Louis Le Brocquy, number 35 of a limited edition of 50, published by the Dolmen Press in 1969 is €4,000-€6,000.

On Tuesday (December 15th), Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers will hold its winter "Rare Books, Manuscripts & Watercolours" sale at the Clyde Court Hotel in Lansdowne Road starting at 10.30am. The top lot is a signed first-edition copy, published in 1854, of An Investigation into the Laws of Thought by George Boole, the first professor of mathematics at University College Cork. The auctioneers said: "Today, nearly everyone who uses a computer is familiar with Boolean logic but the book that launched the theory is extremely rare." It is estimated at €5,000-€7,000.


An archive of letters written by Tipperary-born Brendan Bracken, mostly to his mother, and before he became a household name in Britain as Winston Churchill's minister for information during the second World War is estimated at €1,750-€2,500.


A rarity of special appeal to anyone interested in Irish bloodstock is Lot 498, a poster, described as “a unique record of a famous early Irish stud, with its unique bloodlines”, advertising a sale by Tattersall’s in November 1832 of “The Entire Stud of the late Sir Nicholas Loftus, Bard., decd, Consisting of Brood Mares, Young Stock, Hunters, etc. both Thorough-Bred and Half-Bred, of the Best Irish Blood” at

Mount Loftus

, Goresbridge, Co Kilkenny (€500-€700).

Also on Tuesday (December 15th), at noon, Adam's will auction the "Richard S J Clarke Collection of Cartography". Adam's describes Prof R S J Clarke as a "a highly respected medic who in his spare time has dedicated himself to studying and collecting antique sea charts and maps of Ireland". Now retired, Clarke, born in 1929 and a collector since the 1950s, was a doctor at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital.

Adam’s said the sea charts, as well as being practical tools for mariners, are “remarkably beautiful even for non map collectors in their rendering of the Irish coastline”, while the antique Irish maps include “many rare and important examples by all of the most famous cartographers” . Prices for the 500 lots range from €80-€5,000 but the average estimate is €150-€250.

Viewing for all three auctions is underway and online bidding is available.