Pearse’s final death cell letter set to fetch €100,000

HOURS before his execution, 1916 leader Padraig Pearse gave final instructions about his business and personal affairs.

The letter has never been seen in public before. Being sold by a private individual, it is one of three letters handwritten and signed by the patriot from his condemned cell. It could fetch up to €100,000 when it comes under the hammer at Adam’s and Mealy’s major sale in Dublin later this month.

The letter is among 600 important Irish historical and political artefacts relating to the Independence struggle being auctioned on April 17.

Also up for auction is a handwritten letter from Michael Collins to the Boston Globe newspaper appealing for Irish American support and the New Testament Bible Terence MacSwiney, the former Lord Mayor of Cork, had with him during his hunger strike in Brixton Prison in 1920. The marks opposite passages relevant to a person declining food indicate that he consulted it for guidance during his hunger strike. Published in Irish it is estimated to fetch between €10,000 and €15,000.

In his final letter, Pearse asked British forces commander General Sir John Maxwell that statements relating to his affairs, four poems written by him and £7 in cash and other effects taken from him after his arrest be handed to his mother or sister.

Stuart Cole, director of auctioneers James Adam & Sons, said yesterday: “With a large part of Pearse’s correspondence already in official government hands, it is a rare and very exciting opportunity for something so historically valuable and of such national importance to come on the open market.”

Up to €50,000 is expected for a Citizen Army mobilisation order, autographed signed by James Connolly.

A rare 1916 Proclamation is estimated to fetch up to €150,000.

Of more controversial interest is a series of 14 letters painting unflattering portraits of Collins, his girlfriend Kitty Kiernan and Lady Lavery.

The Moya Llewlyn Davies diaries, equating to a modern day gossip column, claim Kiernan was a “heavy drinker, plain and vulgar”, with Collins believing her to be “brainless”. The writer doubts whether Lady Lavery had “that relationship” with Collins saying she “only looked well from a distance”.

Auctioneer Fonsie Mealy said: “There is something for everyone, with prices ranging from €100 up to 100,000 for military uniforms, medals and weaponry, to letters, newspapers, posters and postcards.”

The sale takes place at James Adam Salerooms, St Stephen’s Green on April 17 at 11am and 6pm.

Under the hammer

€100,000 — estimated for Pearse’s final letter.

€150,000 — for rare 1916 Proclamation.

€50,000 — gossipy letters about Collins, Kitty Kiernan and Lady Lavery.

€15,000 — Terence McSwiney’s hunger strike Bible.

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