'Ultimate trophy' deer antlers go under the hammer in Cork


ENORMOUS GIANT Irish deer antlers will go to auction in Mallow Co Cork, today.

They are believed to be at least 12,000 years old and were excavated from a bog in the 19th century. Fine art auctioneers Mealy’s has valued “the ultimate trophy” at between €10,000 to €15,000.

The Megaloceros giganteus(also known as The Irish Elk) was a prehistoric deer. It stood up to 2m (7ft) high at the shoulder and sported antlers which could be as wide as 3.6m (12ft) from tip to tip.

The mammal became extinct during the last Ice Age, approximately 11,000 years ago.

Partial and entire skeletons have been discovered and excavated from Irish peat bogs since the 16th century.

Some examples are on display in the National Museum’s natural history galleries on Dublin’s Merrion Street, but others fell into private ownership and were popular wall decorations. An unknown quantity was shipped to England by aristocratic landlords.

Auctioneer George Gerard Mealy believes the antlers, which span just over 3.5m, are the biggest offered at auction and said their sale had already generated “numerous telephone enquiries”.

The antlers once adorned Adare Manor in Co Limerick, but were among contents auctioned off by the Earl of Dunraven (who died last month) when he sold the house in 1982.

They were bought and rehoused by an Irish private collector who has now decided to sell them.

Giant Irish deer antlers occasionally come up for sale in London. In 2006, a pair spanning 2.4m from Castle Hewson, Co Limerick, sold for £42,000 (€48,000) at Christie’s. The highest price achieved was £52,875 for a pair with a 2.9m span from Powerscourt House, Co Wicklow, which sold in London in 2001.

Mealy’s catalogue also features an elephant’s foot stick-and-umbrella stand – an item which was once a feature of country homes with members serving in the British colonial service in India and Africa. But the lot has been withdrawn as the auctioneers “don’t want vegans picketing”.