Friday 23 February 2018

Eve-of-execution letter from Kevin Barry priced at €18,000

Colm Kelpie

A HANDWRITTEN letter from a teenager on the eve of his execution during the War of Independence is estimated to fetch up to €18,000 when it goes under the hammer next week.

The poignant document, penned by 18-year-old Dublin medical student Kevin Barry, was composed to his friends in a cell in Mountjoy Prison in 1920.

He was hanged over his part in an ambush of a British army lorry and his execution sparked public anger because of his age.

The Adams auction will also include Barry's typed interrogation statement, estimated to fetch up to €7,000, as well as a cap badge reputed to be worn by Michael Collins on the day of his death.

The Independence auction at Adams, now in its fifth year, includes 600 lots of newspapers, photographs, books, posters, medals, prison craftwork, letters and documents.

Archives feature strongly in the sale, which includes Fianna Fail documents and memorabilia amassed in the 1930s and 40s, a collection of papers from the former IRA headquarters on O'Connell Street in Dublin and an archive of material from Kathleen McKenna, who was secretary to Collins and Arthur Griffith.

There are also several other historical items not directly linked to Irish independence, including the announcement of the discovery of the Northwest Passage in 1850.

Written by Wexford man Robert McClure, the letters send home news of his discovery and how his ship, 'The Investigator', was subsequently stuck in ice for almost two years until its crew was rescued by HMS Resolute.

A rare original copy of the 1916 Proclamation sold for €220,000 at last year's sale.

The copy was originally owned by Rory O'Connor, who led an occupation of the Four Courts in Dublin in 1922 against the newly-formed pro-Treaty Irish government.

This year's auction takes place on Tuesday, April 20.

Irish Independent

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