13 April 2016

The year was 1916 and the day was Sunday 23rd of April. Now 100 years later our country is commemorating those who participated in the fight to regain our country's sovereignty. Many items of historical interest pertaining to this period  will go up for auction at the Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers Centenary Sale, which will take place on Saturday 23rd April, in the particularly apt location of The Gresham Hotel, O’Connell Street, Dublin, an area that played witness to much of the Easter Rising’s events.

The sale, which comprises over 600 lots, will include items from the 1798 Rebellion, the Fenian Rising, signatories of the 1916 Proclamation, a wide variety of signed books, manuscripts, correspondence, archives, medals and other artefacts.

A particularly prominent item is an original copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic, which is by tradition reputed to be a copy which hung in the General Post Office in Dublin during the 1916 rising, with guaranteed provenance to Dr. James Ryan, Medical Officer to the G.P.O. Garrison, later a Fianna Fáil Minister.

Another lot of considerable note is the Moore Street ‘Flag’ of Truce; a white linen handkerchief, believed to be the original flag of truce which was shown by Captain Michael William O'Reilly, at Moore Street in Dublin, to indicate that the volunteers wished to surrender their final position on the Saturday afternoon of April 29th 1916.

Speaking about the auction, George Fonsie Mealy, Director, Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers, said, “It is important that we as a nation acknowledge the Rising 100 years on. It is a privilege for us to be honoured with the sale of such items from these monumental events in Irish history”.

Also included is a rare original Irish volunteers uniform jacket, c. 1915, the khaki wool lined tunic comes with harp and cross decorations, and once belonged to volunteer Thomas J. Byrne who was part of the Dublin Brigade, together with his medals and other artefacts.

The auction also acknowledges the important role played by women during this revolutionary time. A remarkable collection of signatures, letters and files relating to Irish female prisoners during the 1920’s, who were known as ‘The Dangerous Ladies’ - are strongly represented in the sale.

A bundle of four old keys that are sure to generate some keen interest are those belonging to the G.P.O., with a contemporary note on the ring stating that the keys were found in the ruins of the G.P.O. after the Rising in 1916. The keys come from Comdt. Brennan-Whitemore, a volunteer who commanded the North King Street area during the Rising, whom by repute received the keys from a comrade who retrieved them from the ruins of the G.P.O.  

Other items of historical interest include a collection of personal belongings, letters, photographs and other memorabilia of Captain Percival Lea-Wilson, Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and his wife Dr Marie Lea-Wilson. Captain Lea-Wilson, infamously known for the abuse and humiliation of Republican prisoners in his charge at the Rotunda Gardens, following the Rising he was subsequently assassinated, in retaliation and on the orders of Michael Collins. His widow is famous for presenting an old master painting to the Jesuits In Dublin, which was later discovered to be an original Caravaggio and now hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland.

Also for sale are two of the original pencil drawings for the Kevin Barry memorial stained glass window made at the Harry Clarke Studios, by Richard King.  One of the drawings for sale forms the basis for the actual window which is now at U.C.D., and depicts Barry under arrest by British Soldiers, with the words ‘Chun Saoirse na hÉireann’, meaning ‘Towards Irish freedom’. The other drawing depicts ‘The Flight of Eoin Roe O’Neill’. These both appear to be all that have survived of the original drawings.

The GAA will also be well represented at the auction with are some very interesting items of early GAA memorabilia included such as, an important manuscript diary of Pat Davin, brother of Maurice, the First President of the GAA. The diary was kept during his trip with the GAA to the US.A. in 1888, which is also known as the ‘American Invasion’, together with some of their athletic medals awarded at some of the earliest GAA meetings. As well as a fine collection of early GAA programmes , pamphlets and medals , including  a very rare gold medal from the ‘Bloody Sunday’ First Anniversary GAA Tournament (1921) commemorating those who had fallen victim on that infamous day.

Another GAA medal of note is from the 1911 All-Ireland Hurling Final - known as the’ Substitute’ final because controversially Limerick refused to travel and play the replay, and subsequently another final was arranged between Kilkenny and Tipperary which saw Kilkenny as victors.

Public viewing will take place on Thursday and Friday, April 21st and 22nd from 10.30am -7pm each day in the O’Connell Suite at The Gresham Hotel, O'Connell Street, Dublin. The sale will take place at the same venue on Saturday, 23rd April from 10.30am.

For more information about the auction, visit www.fonsiemealy.ie or call 056 4441229