Dromoland Castle heirlooms, Harry Clarke stained glass and a vintage car

Plain people of Ireland represented at Chatsworth Fine Art Sale by rare rosary beads

 

Irish antiques salerooms are, invariably, filled with the trappings of the former gentry that flourished from the 18th to the early 21st century. But what about the lives of the plain people of Ireland? Unlike the Anglo-Irish, the majority of “natives” lived hand to mouth and had few material possessions. But they did have their religious faith, and a rare set of late 18th-century “Galway” rosary beads will go under the hammer in next week’s Chatsworth Fine Art Sale at Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers as lot 151, estimated at €400-€600.

The beads are an incongruous sight amidst oil paintings and mahogany furniture, silver and porcelain from “Renville House, Oranmore, Co Galway; the Coghill family, Drumcondra House, Dublin; Dromoland Castle, Co Clare; two private collections of Old Master paintings (including items from the late Judge James Murnaghan’s collection); and horse-drawn carriages from the collection of the late Mr Joe McGrath.”

One of the most revealing items is lot 700, “a visitors’ shooting book”, bound in crocodile skin, from Dromoland Castle, which chronicles Lord Inchiquin’s guests from November 1900 until the house was sold to a developer and became a luxury hotel in the 1970s.

Among the signatures are those of Lord Kilmorey, Lord Granard, Neville Chamberlain, Guiseppe and Beatrice Marconi, Dermod O’Brien, Lord Ennismore, Lord Aberdeen, and Erskine and Ruth Childers. The first World War armistice is noted on November 11th, 1918, and “war declared Sept 3rd 1939” is recorded, though, according to auctioneer George Fonsie Mealy, “the shooting continued undisturbed”. He says that “this valuable social document illustrates how slowly the gentry changed their customs, although the lords thin out somewhat after the 1930s”. It is estimated at €2,000-€3,000.

Lot 272, also from Dromoland Castle, is a brass 19th-century stationery box. Its two sloped doors, engraved with the O’Brien of Dromoland crest, open to reveal a fitted interior, two brass-tipped glass ink bottles and an original brass clock by Vickery, Regent Street, London. It is estimated at €500-€700.

Fonsie Mealy is an auction house that has a reputation for stained glass, and the auction has two stained-glass panels from Harry Clarke’s studios, commissioned in about 1900 by the Pierce family, machinery manufacturers of Wexford, for their home, Park House. Lot 657, a wooden window “carved in the Gothic taste”, with four stained-glass panels depicting the four provinces of Ireland, is estimated at €1,000-€1,500, while lot 658, King David and the Creation, is a three-panel stained-glass window, with sea creatures, King David playing the harp, and birds and butterflies in flight on a natural background with leafy border, estimated at €5,000-€7,000.

Among the paintings is lot 893, an 18th-century Irish-School three-quarter-length oil-on-canvas “portrait of Sir Marmaduke Coghill, sitting in his robes”, dated 1735, which depicts the one-time MP and chancellor of the exchequer, who lived at Drumcondra House (later All Hallows College). It is estimated at €3,000-€4,000.

Lot 497, described as a “vintage barn find” and estimated at €17,000-€22,000, is a 1914 Talbot Invincible, one of only 350 cars of this model made. The car was first registered by the county borough council of Southampton to a Brig Gen D Brady, who moved to Ireland in 1927. The original Irish tax book plus the original “instruction handbook” are included.

Lot 258 is an Irish 18th-century mahogany grandfather clock, with brass dial by George Sikes, Carlow, estimated at €800-€1,200.

Although there is no Irish connection, lot 908 is a wonderful oil portrait of an English first World War hero, Flight Commander Colin Roy MacKenzie, DSO, RNAS: Croix de Guerre, by John St Helier Lander, estimated at only €700-€900.

Viewing for the auction is at the saleroom in Chatsworth Street, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny, on Sunday, November 13th, from noon to 5.30pm, and on Monday, November 14th, from 10am to 5pm, The auction takes place there on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 15th and 16th, starting at 10.30am.

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