Joseph Plunkett’s Easter Rising medal is back on sale

1916 Proclamation signatory’s award to be auctioned by Whyte’s at a reduced price

The medal awarded to Joseph Plunkett has a reserve of €50,000.

The medal awarded to Joseph Plunkett has a reserve of €50,000.


The Easter Rising medal posthumously awarded to Joseph Plunkett, one of the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation, is to go on sale with a much-reduced reserve next month.

Last spring, just ahead of the centenary commemorations, the medal had been valued at up to €100,000 but failed to sell at auction.

Now the unnamed vendor has slashed the price and it will go under the hammer in Whyte’s auctioneers January 27th sale of historical collectibles in Dublin with a median estimate of €50,000.

Auctioneer Ian Whyte said it was “an opportunity to buy a key piece of 1916- memorabilia at half-price”.

The drop in value will alarm collectors who have bought Easter Rising collectibles in recent years.

The market peaked a year ago when an original copy of the 1916 Proclamation made a hammer price of £250,000 (€291,000) at auction in London.

But during the last year, three of six further copies of the Proclamation offered for sale have failed to find buyers and the last one to appear at auction made just €150,000.

Pearse letter

A surrender letter written by Patrick Pearse – valued at up to €1.5 million also failed to sell in Dublin earlier this month.

Dublin-born, Jesuit-educated Plunkett was executed by the British authorities in Dublin on May 4th, 1916, for his role in the Rising.

He had fought in the GPO and was one of seven leaders who had signed the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

He was allowed to marry his fiancée Grace Gifford a few hours before his execution in Kilmainham Gaol.

In the 1940s, the Irish government awarded medals to the next-of-kin of people who had died in the Rising.

Plunkett’s medal was sent to his widow but, according to Mr Whyte, “she threw the medal into her dustbin” because she was hostile to the government.

It was retrieved by a friend, Cathal Gannon who she told could keep it.

Mr Gannon later gave the medal as a gift to the current, unnamed owner who is selling it.

Six of the medals awarded to the next-of-kin of the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation are still in private hands.

Only that awarded posthumously to Patrick Pearse is in State ownership.