'Magnificent' deer antlers sell for €35,000 at auction


GIANT IRISH deer antlers proved the most prized item for auction from Mallow Castle in north Cork yesterday after reaching more than double the expected price when selling for €35,000.

The 3.5m (11ft) wide horns and skull, described by auctioneer Phonsie Mealy as “a magnificent specimen of gigantic Irish deer”, had hung in Mallow Castle after being purchased at Adare Manor, Co Limerick, where they had previously hung.

They are thought to be 12,000 years old, having been recovered from a bog in the 19th century.

The antlers were bought by a bidder in the sale room, but the auctioneer could not confirm the new owner’s identity.

The auction of some 793 lots by Mallow Castle’s American owner Judy McGinn, prior to the sale of the historic home and grounds to Cork County Council, attracted close to 500 bidders to the Hibernian Hotel in Mallow.

A spokesman for Mealy’s described the auction as very successful, with a painting by Nathaniel Grogan snr of the Dripsey paper mill and foundry in the early 19th century being among the other notable sales, fetching an impressive €12,000.

Other paintings to go under the hammer at yesterday’s sale were portraits of Sir John Norreys and his brother, Sir Thomas Norreys, who were allocated the castle and estate as part of the Munster plantation after the defeat of the Fitzgeralds in the 1580s.

The county council announced last December that it had agreed to buy the castle and some 30 acres for €1.7 million from Ms McGinn, who with her late husband, Michael, bought the castle in 1984 from the Jephson family.

Cork county manager Martin Riordan said the castle and the surrounding buildings, including stables, represented a hugely significant tourism and heritage opportunity for Mallow and Cork over the coming years.

Reinstatement of the estate’s gardens is envisaged. But once the house has been cleared of contents the council will consult with locals and seek suggestions as to how to maximise its tourist potential.

One idea could involve making it the focal point for developing a tour of big houses in north Cork, such as Doneraile House. “We’re very much open to hearing what ideas the local community might have. The Mallow Partnership, for example, are a very proactive group and we’ll sit down with them and others and have an extensive consultation before we embark on anything,” he said.