Historic lithograph to stay in Department of the Taoiseach


The interesting journey of a signed lithograph of Thomas Francis Meagher will end tomorrow when the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, takes possession of it. It will remain in the Department of the Taoiseach and in Irish hands for posterity.

The existence of the lithograph with the legend "To Patrick Kirwan from Thomas Francis Meagher with the permission of this prison, returns his fortitude and warm friendship" came to light after Mr Maurice O'Keeffe, a Tralee-based antiques dealer, contacted this column.

Much interest was aroused and there was a danger it would end up in the US where interest in the Civil War made this a very collectable item. Meagher was the leader of the Irish Brigade.

The lithograph lay in an attic in Co Tipperary for many years before it was rediscovered. Happily, the Taoiseach took an interest and it has been purchased for a figure believed to be about £5,000. There will be a formal handing over tomorrow in Dublin after which restoration work is likely to be carried out. Thereafter, visitors to the office of the Taoiseach will be able to view it.

Meagher was in Richmond Prison, Dublin, when he signed the lithograph on June 30th, 1849. He was awaiting transportation to Van Diemen's Land from where he would escape and make his way to America. Kirwan was a solicitor and faithful friend.