Humorous menu from 1921 treaty talks to be auctioned


A “HUMOROUS” menu prepared for an Irish delegation dinner during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations in London in 1921 is to be sold at auction today in Dublin. Auctioneers have valued it at between €1,500 and €2,500.

The handwritten document listed dishes such as “Economic Cutlets (Reparation Gravy)” and “‘Minced Ulster (North East Sauce)” and was signed by members of the delegation including the chairman Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins.

The treaty with Britain, which was signed on December 6th, 1921, brought an end to the War of Independence and led to the creation of the Irish Free State the following year.

The Irish plenipotentiaries were in London from October 1921, and the menu was prepared for a dinner on the evening of November 10th, 1921, halfway through the talks. Despite intense pressure on the delegation, and the gravity of the issues under discussion, the menu reflects a lighter side to the State’s founding fathers.

Two soups were offered: “Peace Thick” and “Publicity Clear”.

The names of the fish courses, “Hans Plaice” and “Coddugan Steaks”, playfully refer to the delegates’ temporary accommodation in the British capital: Hans Place and Cadogan Gardens in Knightsbridge.

The main course was a joint, described as “Roast Beef of Old England” served with an “Aide Memoire of Potatoes (Delegates Solution)” and “Formula of Beans (UK Solution)”.

The delegation’s secretaries: “Gerty, Ellie, Alice, Kathleen and Lily” are referred to, jokingly, as a sweet, “Compote de fruits”.

The menu is signed on the back by several members of the Irish delegation including Art Ó Gríobhtha (Arthur Griffith); Caoimhghín Ó hUiginn (Kevin O’Higgins) and by Mícheál Ó Coileáin (Michael Collins) – and his “minders”, Liam Tobin, Joe Dolan and Joe Guilfoyle.

It is being sold by a descendent of Kathleen Napoli McKenna who was a typist with the delegation. She left the Irish Civil Service in 1931, married an Italian military officer named General Napoli and went to live in Rome.

The menu is one of hundreds of historical items included in today’s 6th annual “Independence” sale hosted by auctioneers Adam’s and Mealy’s. Some 29 letters written by Michael Collins to his sister Johanna (“Hannie”), being auctioned individually, have attracted considerable interest and are expected to make €100,000.