Relics of an ascendancy which once humoured and bestowed comfort to the Earls of Dunraven over several centuries are destined for new homes after a marathon two-day auction in the Adare Manor hotel.
More than 1,800 items ranging from colonial four-poster beds to delightful paintings will have succumbed to auctioneer Aidan Foley’s gavel by close of business this evening.
The Mallow, Co Cork, man said: “I will spend over 19 hours in all on the stand. We have a team of 24, with my wife Kay in control of the whole operation.
“You have to keep your eye on the ball at all times as, along with up to 500 in attendance at any one time, you have bids live on the internet, bids coming in by phone and pre-sale bids.”
One of the items coming under the hammer today is the bed US president Bill Clinton slept in during one of his Irish visits. As serious bidders and many others, just curious, trooped into the Neo-Gothic manor yesterday looking for a bargain, grandmother-of-seven Ann Brennan, who lives in Newcastle West, Co Limerick, turned back the clock to her childhood years. Brought up in Adare village, she recalled: “My father, Tom Kilmurray, was the estate carpenter. The Dunraven’s were brilliant landlords.
“We lived in a Dunraven estate house in the village and the manor was our playground as children in the I950s. I used come up here with my sister Mary and brothers, Tom and Patrick, along with our next door neighbours, the Jones’ — Bobby, Joanie, and Mary.
“I must have climbed every tree on the estate. I have lovely memories of this place. I often came back to the hotel for afternoon tea when we’d meet up with the Jones’ to talk of times past. We saw it when the Dunraven family had it, and then Tom Kane bought it and turned into a hotel and now JP McManus is the new lord of the Manor.”
Dagmar Huggard and her friend, Valerie Carroll, travelled from Killarney.
Dagmar’s father-in-law Billy Huggard owned the Butler Arms Hotel in Waterville when it played host to Charlie Chaplin and his family on summer holidays.
Dagmar, anxious for a bargain from the manor, said: “I have looked at a number of pictures and prints. There are old Christmas decorations which are gorgeous and I am definitely going to see if I can acquire them.”
She recalled some nice memories of the manor. Along with husband, Coleman, a Killarney hotelier, they stayed there to celebrate his 40th birthday. “After dinner we had a lovely evening in the piano bar, the pianist was brilliant,” she recalled.
Valerie said she would like to visit the new hotel when it opens with her husband. “Killarney is the best. But I’d like to come here as JP McManus is a great supporter of Kerry and spends a lot of his holidays in South Kerry.”
Mary Kelly from Bulgaden was busy chasing a number of items she marked on the catalogue at the previewing on Wednesday. Mary later beamed: “I got a lovely headboard for €75, a set of dessert glasses for €42, and a large rug for €100.” Mary Connolly also from Bulgaden, who was with her, laughed: “I didn’t buy anything as I’m too busy watching Mary that she doesn’t go mad with her husband’s credit card.”
Even for a skint reporter there was something to match the budget — a small container with the Adare Manor logo costing €15.
Tonight, Mr Foley expects to wrap it up with a healthy sale aggregate.
He said: “I conducted the Ashford Castle auctions in 2014 and 2015, and they were very successful. The Adare Manor auction has also gone off very successfully. There’s been great value. In some of the newer stuff, people got top-quality beds for €500 which would have cost €2,000 in a furniture shop.”
Some of the lots he sold at Ashford ended up in Argentina. “Every item we sell here in Adare has to be gone by midday on Sunday, wherever it ends. The redevelopment of the property begins first thing Monday,” he said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved