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Eclectic mix, global interest in Cavan auction

Victor Mee holding the first anniversary Proclamation


By Irish Echo Staff

One of only three known surviving first-anniversary copies of the Irish Proclamation, printed in 1917 using the same printing blocks as the original, a vast collection of rare signed and dated books by Seamus Heaney, and a highly valuable collection of whiskies, including a highly-valuable 1890s bottle of George Roe Irish Whiskey predicted to sell within the range of €6,000 to €12,000 to a keen collector.

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These are but some of the items being offered by family-owned Victor Mee Auctions in their upcoming May 8 and 9 Irish Connections Collectors sale, scheduled to take place in their auction house in Belturbet, County Cavan.

With bidders currently registered from across the globe including enthusiastic Irish-American bidders, high-end whiskey collectors from Hong Kong, and Irish history collectors from across Ireland and further afield, this sale is reflexive of the increasing popularity of Victor Mee Auctions as a leading auction house in Ireland with a trusted reputation in selling high-quality and unique pieces, said a release.

Stated the release in part: “Bidders will have a unique opportunity to own a piece of rare Irish national history when one of only three known surviving 1917 copies of the Proclamation reaches the auction block.

“Printed on the one-year anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, the poster was taken down by a member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police at Butt Bridge in Central Dublin on orders of the High Sheriff of Dublin to avoid political unrest. He later visited a man living nearby, Robert Bradley, a retired Sheriff of Dublin who had retired in 1910 and gave the poster to him. The piece was later passed on to the McKay family – friends of Robert Bradley – who safely kept the piece for over six decades, passing it down to the current owner.”

The piece was framed to preserve the artefact when signs of deterioration began to appear along the folds. It has been stored in the dark to the present day.

Printed by Cumann na mBan with the original printing blocks used for the original version after they were gathered from the wreckage of the GPO, this is only one of three of these Proclamations known to be in existence, with one additional copy also housed in the Jackie Clarke Collection in Ballina, County Mayo. That prestigious collection also includes a copy of the 1916 Proclamation.

The 1917 Proclamation is estimated to sell for €10,000 to €20,000.

“We are honored to have been chosen to auction off these poignant artefacts that represent such a poignant time in Ireland’s history,” Said Victor Mee.

“There are only three of these proclamations known to be in existence so we believe this piece will draw many bidders from around the world/”

The sale will also offer bidders a rare chance to take home a piece of Irish literary heritage with a bid on a number of rare books by the late Seamus Heaney. More than fifty books by the Nobel Laureate, some signed or dated, and some inscribed, will be on sale.

“We are very excited about the fantastic Heaney collection we have acquired for the Irish Connections Collectors sale and believe these pieces will be especially popular with a wide range of bidders, the literary audience, in particular,” said Bryan Mee.

Also on offer will be what is being billed as “an exquisite collection of Irish whiskey” including “a precious 1890s bottle of George Roe Irish whiskey,” one of the rarest bottles of Irish whiskey to ever come on to the market.

“Unfortunately these bottles were just drunk and not saved. The bottle itself is in excellent condition with some evaporation and depicts the Thomas Street Distillery. It is estimated to sell within the range of €6,000 to €12,000 to a keen collector and we are very excited to see the turnout for bidders who for this piece who will tune in online, by phone, and come to our auction house to bid in person,” said Bryan Mee.

Stated the auction release: “George Roe Whiskey had its beginnings in 1757 when Peter Roe bought a small distillery on Thomas Street in Dublin. In 1889 George Roe & Co. Distillers joined William Jameson & Co and the Dublin Whiskey Distillery to form a trading unit called the Dublin Distilling Company Ltd. Each distillery continued to market its own whiskey under its own name, but during the late 19th and early 20th centuries – a difficult period for the whiskey industry in Ireland due to increased competition from Scottish whisky, prohibition in the United States and the decline in the social and economic power in Ireland which caused many distilleries to fail - Geo. Roe & Co. Distillers along with its two partners ceased to produce whiskey in 1926, leaving large quantities of unsold stock. It wasn’t until the mid-1940s that Geo Roe & Co. distillers dissolved, and Guinness took over the site of the old Roe Thomas Street distillery.”

Another item on sale, under the heading of “Irish Decorative Interiors” will be a Killarney Davenport dating from the mid-19th century made from arbutus, oak and yew wood.

“The Killarney Davenport is a perfect example of the range of skills that could be employed for a tourist trade in the Victorian period in Ireland. Exquisitely decorated, we believe this item will sell between €4,000 and €6,000,” said Victor Mee.

More information on the upcoming sale at

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