Harpsichord, sandstone urns and some spooky furniture for auction this week

Contents of Millborough House and ‘Ireland’s spookiest house’ Loftus Hall feature

Despite the lifting of many restrictions, some auctions still have no in-person viewing so it is a good idea to check in advance if you wish to view lots in person. This week is a busy one in auction houses around the country.

Today, Saturday, February 12th, Woodward Auctioneers is selling the entire contents of Millborough House, the 13-acre riverside Georgian manor on Lee Road in Cork.

The recently sold property, dating from the late 1700s, was home to the late Dr Don Coleman, a founding member of the South of Ireland Association of Anaesthetists, and also a founding member and president of the Irish Medical Union, 1972-1973.

Along with a great selection of Georgian and Regency furniture, garden vases and Cork limestone, the sale lists curios such as carved angel figures and items that will be of interest to restorers. It also features items of French interest from the time the property was occupied by taxidermist and furrier Frederick Rohu, whose grandfather was Bonaventure Rohu, the wealthy French royalist who was exiled to England, thereby forfeiting his extensive properties in Brittany.


Ending tomorrow, Sunday, February 13th, Mullen’s of Laurel Park Classic and Contemporary Interiors sale with 500 lots including lamps, china, oriental rugs and four Waterford Glass chandeliers. Highlights include a vintage American roll-top desk (€1,200-€1,800) and a good pair of Georgian mahogany and brass-bound peat buckets (€1,000-€1,500).

Of interest to fans of sculptor Simon O’Donnell is Discovery of the Perpendicular, a bronze statue on a marble base (€1,500-€2,000). Lot 5 is a really lovely spinet or baby harpsichord, which, even if you do not play, is a remarkable piece of furniture, estimated at €100-€200. The top lot in the sale, which has viewings today and tomorrow, is a pair of sandstone urns priced at €8,500-€10,500.

On Tuesday, February 15th, Hegarty’s of Bandon will conduct a live online sale of 200 lots featuring contemporary art, silver, jewellery and period furnishings. The house is not facilitating in-person viewings but the catalogue is online. Highlights include a fine 19th-century gilt overmantle mirror, which, at over a metre in both height and width will suit a high-ceilinged room (€3,000-€4,000). A cross banded walnut coffee table is seeking €600-€1,200 and the sale lists a rather nice silk Persian rug, with navy, orange and beige as dominant colours (€1,000-€2,000).

Meanwhile, Waterford auction house RJ Keighery's sale on February 19th lists items from "Ireland's spookiest house", Loftus Hall. Legend has it that former Protestant owners of the vast mansion with 97 windows, called in the local Catholic priest, Fr Thomas Broaders, to perform an exorcism, as the place is said to have once hosted the devil. Whatever your belief about the landmark on the Hook Peninsula, a Ghost Adventures Halloween special on Loftus Hall was watched by 100 million viewers in the United States in 2015, so perhaps the new buyer, who purchased the pile for an undisclosed sum (it was seeking €2.5 million) will take advantage of the now famous spooky tourist attraction.

Items from mansion include a life-size statue of the patron saint of the New World, St Joseph (€80-€120), a pair of bobbin-leg marble-topped side-tables (€200-€300) and an old mahogany tallboy that would not look out of place in a horror film (€200-€300).

On Thursday, February 24th in London, Dix Noonan Webb in its British, Irish and World Banknotes sale, will offer a very rare specimen note that was not circulated. An Irish Free State £100 note, dating from September 10th, 1928, and one of only a few examples known to exist, is listed at £12,000-£16,000 (€14,220-€18,968). An Irish Free State £50 note, from the same date, and signed by Eamon de Valera, is expected to attain £10,000-£12,000 (€11,850-€14,220). The sale will also include the second part of the collection of the late Gus MacAmhlaigh of Dublin. A sale in November saw his red Ploughman "not for circulation" note achieve £42,000 (€49,777) against a reserve of £2,600-£3,200 (€3,081-€3,792) after a bidding war between two Irish collectors.

More notes will be for sale at the highly anticipated Hibernian Antiques Fair, which takes place at the South Court Hotel in Limerick this weekend. While auction houses saw their sales increase over the past two years, the National Antique Fairs (Hibernian), now in its 33rd year, was forced to cancel due to the pandemic. Nostalgia Antiques of Limerick and Greene's Antiques of Drogheda will join other banknote dealers Anthony O'Brien, Richard Walsh and members of the Irish Antique Dealers Association, in what organiser Robin O'Donnell is calling "an enormous" fair.

With over 80 dealers, art galleries and vintage stores, there will also be a huge selection of jewellery just in time for St Valentine’s Day.