Irish Republican News · March 13, 2006
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Disgust at 1916 ‘Sale of the century’

There has been an outcry over a planned auction of historical documents and artifacts associated with the 1916 Rising.

Adam’s auction house is co-hosting the sale of important Irish historical artifacts in Easter week, including the original handwritten words and music of the Irish national anthem.

Some of the last letters of executed signatories of the Proclamation are also to be sold off in the online auction.

Also included are manuscripts of Padraig Pearse and Thomas MacDonagh, a handwritten copy of the National Anthem by its author Peadar O Cearnaigh, a tricolour believed to have flown from the GPO in 1916 and Michael Collins’s typewriter, “among other unique historical items”.

“It is scandalous that these priceless historical documents and other irreplaceable parts of our national heritage are to be auctioned off to become the private prestige property of wealthy individuals,” said Sinn Fen’s Aengus O Snodaigh.

“There is nothing to stop these items being taken out of the country.

“To add insult to injury, the auction firms are promoting this sale by linking it to the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.

“The government should immediately intervene with emergency legislation to prevent this sell-out of our heritage.

“Successive governments have failed to put in place legislation to protect heritage items from market forces.

“If anything, it should spur long-overdue action.

“For any government to allow these items to be auctioned in this way makes a mockery of our reputation for cherishing our history and culture, something that is touted around the world as one of the main reasons for people to visit Ireland.

“The state has the legal authority to declare an historical site a national monument.

“It also has the power to issue compulsory purchase orders on lands in certain circumstances.

“Similar powers should be put in place for historical items such as those about to be sold off,” Mr O Snodaigh said.

The press release described the auction as the “Irish Sale of the Century”.

“Comprising previously unseen documents of the utmost historical importance charting Ireland’s struggle for independence, Adam’s and Mealy’s ‘Independence Sale’ will be the most comprehensive and significant auction of Irish history yet to take place,” the press release went on.

“Scheduled during Easter week (12th April) to coincide with the 90th anniversary celebrations of the 1916 Easter Rising, it includes a number of significant lots of historical, political and national value and most notably includes the original words and music to Ireland’s National Anthem, estimated to fetch O800,000 -- O1.2million.

Handwritten by Peadar Kearney in 1907 on two pieces of paper, the Soldier’s Song (Amhran na Bhfiann) was popularised by Irish revolutionaries during the Easter Rising and formally adopted as Ireland’s National Anthem in 1926.”

Commenting on the significance of the Independence Sale, Stuart Cole, Director of James Adam & Sons, said,

“This sale is unique in every respect. No sale of such national importance has ever been held before, and we imagine it won’t be matched for a long time after.

“Many of the items consigned for auction are one-offs. Previously unseen and entirely irreplaceable, they derive from important Irish families directly involved in the Easter Rising and the battle for Irish independence.”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News