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Thousands turn out for Titanic auction



Date Published: 08-May-2013

 ABOUT 10,000 people passed through the gates of Costello Lodge in Connemara at the weekend to view the contents which

fetched a six figure sum at auction on Monday.

Niall Dolan of Dolan’s Art Auction put hundreds of items under the hammer in what he described as “a marathon event”.

There was phenomenal interest in the auction because of the history of the 10,000 sq ft house where the disgraced Joseph Bruce Ismay lived in semi-recluse fashion after the sinking of the Titanic.

Mr Ismay was a director of the White Star Line which owned the Titanic and is believed to have dressed as a woman to get off the sinking ship on that ill-fated night.

After he died in 1937, his wife continued to live there until her death and the house was then bought by a Dublin couple, Jack and Agnes Toohey, who made their money in clothing and who were great art collectors.

On Monday more than 3,000 people attended the auction and in fact the side flaps of the marquee had to be pulled up so that the overflow of people could hear the auction.

Mr Dolan kept the momentum going from 12 noon until after 9pm that night never once taking a break. Yesterday, he admitted that it had been his longest lasting auction to date beating a six hour one a few years ago.

“We expected great interest in the house and its contents but it far exceeded our expectations. There were people here all weekend from all counties in Ireland.

“Of course the Edward Luteyns designed house did bring a lot of people through the house over the weekend but it also raised a lot of interest in the auction,” he said.

Though there were some Titanic memorabilia from the Ismay family days (a White Star linen embossed table cloth fetched €800), most of the contents were furniture, art and cars belonging to the Tooheys and were being sold by their executors.

The auction kicked off with the sale of three cars, including a 1985 Mercedes Benz 500 which fetched €5,000 and a BMW 321 convertible got €2,300.

Everything that moved was sold and people were still collecting their purchases on Tuesday, which now leaves the house empty for sale at the end of the month.

Other items sold on the day were two fur coats. The full length one fetched €1,900, two wheelbarrows for €230, a ride-on mower for €1,200 and art work (particularly Kenneth Webb paintings) for €7,000 a piece.

There was garden furniture which included lime troughs for €1,000, a courtyard fountain for €1,400, a sundial for €1,800 and bird houses for €90.

There were full dinner services with 250 pieces including coffee pots and china tea sets. It is not often the full contents of a house go on sale, and especially in this case in a house that had such a notorious history in its early years.

It was built as a fishing lodge as the fishing rights were privately owned and barred to locals. It was burned to the ground by the IRA before the Ismay family came to live there after extending it into the existing building.

There was much local curiosity about the house down through the years. That curiosity was sated from last Friday when the house was opened for viewing.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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