191 Memorabilia Goes under Hammer

Defense Forces march in front of Daniel O'Connell's statue in Dublin

By Frank Shouldice, Contributor
June / July 2006

Historic artifacts and memorabilia from the 1916 Easter Rising went under the hammer at James Adam & Sons Auctioneers and Mealy’s Auctioneers in Dublin. A total of 480 collectible items drew combined sales of €3.5 million, the largest sum of which was paid for the first written draft of “Amhrán na bhFiain,” Ireland’s national anthem. The item was sold for €760,000. The high-profile sale also attracted criticism from young members of Sinn Féin protesting at the commercial sale of historical treasures. Two protestors were arrested and additional Gardai (Irish police) were called to the auction showroom to prevent any further disturbance. Another item that drew considerable interest was the Irish tricolor believed to be the flag flown from the GPO during Easter week. The linen flag was captured by a British Army sergeant when the rebels finally surrendered. However, it landed in the possession of a wealthy Catholic merchant family and was sold to an unidentified bidder for €600,000. The auctioneers would not name the buyer but assured the public that the famous flag would remain in Ireland. Aside from the auction, the Rising’s 90th anniversary has renewed public interest in the historic rebellion. The Taoiseach opened a new exhibition at the National Museum in Collins Barracks, Dublin. The exhibition will detail events that led up to Easter week and what followed afterwards, including the War of Independence and Civil War. The exhibition, which includes one of the original printed copies of the Proclamation, is expected to remain on display for the next five years.

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