Personal collection of Ireland's first Grand Slam captain, Karl Mullen, goes to auction

A personal collection of Irish rugby’s most iconic moments belonging to the country’s first Grand Slam captain is to go under the hammer.

Personal collection of Ireland's first Grand Slam captain, Karl Mullen, goes to auction

A personal collection of Irish rugby’s most iconic moments belonging to the country’s first Grand Slam captain is to go under the hammer.

Ireland’s 1948 rugby Grand Slam captain Dr Karl Mullen, who died 11 years ago at the age of 82, was an avid collector of his rugby achievements.

Now his family, are letting go of many of treasured items from his rugby career in the hope that, “will ensure they are not just locked away in a cupboard but display them and record the integrity of the sport’s history.

“They are a rare and unique part of history that are intact and have stood the test of time rather than the instant phone text message or social media type of communication.

“Regarded as Ireland’s first professional captain he really did pave the way for the likes of Ciaran Fitzgerald, Brian O’Driscoll, Rory Best and Peter O’Mahony,” explained George Mealy, of Fonsie Mealy auctioneers who are selling the items on behalf of the late consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist’s family.

His passing came barely a month after Ireland bridged a 61-year gap when completing a Grand Slam with a memorable win in Cardiff, Wales in 2009.

Mullen, originally from Courtown, Co Wexford and the rest of the surviving members of the 1948 team were able to witness the Ireland team repeat the Grand Slam that year.

Educated at Belvedere College, he went on to play for Old Belvedere and gained the first of his 25 Ireland caps as a hooker in 1947 against France.

On the famous victory in Ravenhill against Wales on March 13, 1948, Dr Mullen said: “We were tense and anxious, yet I knew and the players knew we could win. Every man had his say, it was an important part of the pre-match preparations in a side whose hallmark was team spirit.”

Included in lot 600, estimated to be worth up to €4,000 of Mealy’s rare book sale next month are Mr Mealy said: “An important and significant scrapbook of news cuttings, press passes, tickets, and other rare items relating to the famous 1948 Grand Slam year, programmes from the matches, pen pictures, action shots, signed team sheet and articles.

“There is also the official IRFU appointment document of Karl Mullen as Captain, along with an interesting collection of press and personal photographs, and other items pertaining to the British and Irish Lions Tour of 1950 to Australia and New Zealand such as programmes, menus and signed items.

“The archive contains other related material from the start of his international career, and also his club career. Being a well-known art collector he knew what was important to keep hold of in terms of history.”

Fonsie Mealy auctioneer’s rare book sale takes place on March 11 at 10.15am in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny.

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