House contents of Lotabeg under the hammer next month

The drawing room at Lotabeg, Lower Glanmire Rd, Cork

The house contents of Lotabeg — a time capsule of long-hidden antique delights — will be auctioned by Mealy’s in Cork next month.

The graceful interiors of a house designed around 1800 by Abraham Hargrave — who came to Cork in 1791 to superintend the erection of St Patrick’s Bridge in the city centre — have been more or less untouched since 1939.

This elegant family home on Lower Glanmire Rd has yielded treasures like a life-size portrait of James Butler, first Duke of Ormonde by Peter Lely and Studio of Peter Lely (1618-1680), and a pair of valuable oils by David de Coninck (1644-1701).

There is also a rare rosewood reclining library armchair, probably commissioned by Daniel Callaghan MP and a c.1864 collection of 90 albumen photographs of Hindustan and Kashmir by Samuel Bourne, Charles Shepherd, and Arthur Robertson.

Established in 1863, Bourne and Shepherd is the world’s oldest photographic studio.

A set of 11 walnut 19th-century side chairs bears the crest of the Barry Family of Buttevant, Co Cork. The name Buttevant is widely believed to derive from the French phrase “boutez-en-avant”, the warcry of the Norman Barry family who conquered the area in the late 12th century.

The 750-lot sale will include items acquired from Robert Penrose Uniacke Fitzgerald prior to the demolition of his house at Cork Beg Island and artefacts brought back from India in the early 1900s.

It is being sold by the descendants of Vincent Hart, who died in 1939, and his wife Evelyn (nee Sheedy).

Cork-born and a past pupil of Presentation College, Mr Hart was an inter- nationally renowned engineer with the Public Works Department of India.

He played a key role in infrastructural projects including the Mettur Dam in Tamil Nadu, the largest solid gravity dam in the world at the time it was built.

In 1935 he was presented with the Companionship of the Star of India by King George V. Mr Hart’s father, John, was manager of Cork’s Queen’s Old Castle department store.

The sale will include the collection of his brother Captain Jack Hart of the Royal Army Medical Corps who had travelled extensively in China and Japan.

Lotabeg, which has not been sold, was designed around 1800 for Richard Kellett.

It has been owned variously by Daniel Callaghan MP, Poole Hickman, the descendants of Martin Francis Mahony of Lotamore, and a New York banker named Richard Dixon. The large stone ionic arch entrance to Lotabeg, surmounted by an Irish wolfhound, is a well- known city landmark on Lower Glanmire Rd. This commemorates a hound said to have saved Mr Callaghan from drowning in the River Lee.

The auction will include paintings, furniture, Cork and Irish silver, rare books, porcelain, Oriental carpets, chandeliers, Indian and Asian art, and Irish historic collectibles. Viewing will be at the house from May 21. Entrance will be by shuttle bus from the Silver Springs Clayton Hotel, where the sale is to be held on May 24.


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