Pearse surrender letter bound for New York

The Pearse surrender letter


By Irish Echo Staff

If all goes to plan, the 1916 surrender letter penned by Patrick Pearse will arrive in New York today.

The owner would have preferred it to remain in Ireland.

And the anonymous individual has accused the Dublin government of apathy over the hand- written document.

The letter was on display in the GPO in Dublin for over a year after an Irish government minister declined to pay the €1 million valuation and then blocked its export, the Irish News in Belfast reported.

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According to the report, the U.S.-based owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, paid €800,000 for it at auction in 2006, but said his original motivation was to ensure that it stayed in Ireland.

He also said he put it back up for sale only to recoup his investment.

In a statement to the Press Association through a representative, the owner said: "The reaction of visitors who stare with reverence and respect has been a welcome riposte by the citizenry to official apathy."

Continued the Irish News report: Despite repeated approaches to government, no deal on a sale could be reached with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, prompting the owner to remove it from the GPO in the days before Christmas.

“It is understood it was being hand delivered to New York on Wednesday after the one-year export ban lapsed,” the report stated.

The owner said: "I never sought to profit from my custodianship, I merely wished to recoup the cost of purchase when the time came to pass on the baton I picked up in 2006.

"Unfortunately, as there was nobody willing to take my place I will continue to protect and preserve this important national treasure albeit outside of Ireland now."

The letter failed to sell at auction in December, 2016.

At the time, the Irish government insisted that the guide price of between €1 million and €1.5 million (£840,000-£1.25 million) was too high.

And the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said it would not disclose if it had been in talks with the owner to buy the letter.

"It is consistent departmental policy not to comment in any way on official interests or discussions relating to the possible acquisition of heritage items for the national collections, either by way of sale or auction," a spokeswoman said.

"I am not of Ireland but in 2006 I was moved by a piece of Irish history," was the owner’s explanation for purchasing the letter, which was written by Pearse in his prison cell on April 30, 1916, shortly before his execution.

"The final order to surrender, written by Patrick Pearse from his cell in 1916 are not just words on a page. The order is history brought to life in our hands.

"Irish lives were lost for the want of this letter, and Irish lives saved, and a nation was beget.

The first faltering steps of a nation can be traced in every stroke of a pen.

"Mere knowledge of the words was not enough in 1916. The Volunteers required sight of the order, and my first sight of it moved me to buy it and keep it in Ireland."

One of seven typed copies of the letter, produced by the British army in the days after the Rising ended, sold at auction in London this year for close to €300,000, the Irish News report said.