Thursday 22 August 2019

Sale away: Titanic sister ship's panels to fetch €500,000 at auction

Panel show: A section of the second-class library maple panelling from the Britannic
Panel show: A section of the second-class library maple panelling from the Britannic
Liam Collins

Liam Collins

Ornate panelling from the Titanic's sister ship will be sold in a historic auction next month.

"It is like sitting in the lounge of the Titanic, it is the exact same cabinet makers and artisans who carved it," said antiques dealer Niall Mullen.

The seasoned maple and oak formed the Britannic's first-class stateroom and second-class library at the Harland & Wolfe shipyard around 1912. It is believed to come from wood that was felled in the late 1870s and seasoned for 30 years.

How it survived in Ireland for so long is almost as incredible as the sinking of the Titanic by an iceberg in the middle of the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

One of the wood-panelled rooms has been erected in situ for a Niall Mullen auction at the Heritage Hotel, Killenard, Co Laois, on May 1 and 2, while the other is still in a private house.

Combined, they could sell for well over €500,000.

The Titanic's sister ship, RMS Britannic
The Titanic's sister ship, RMS Britannic

Like the Titanic, the Britannic suffered a tragic fate - while en route to collect troops wounded during World War I, the ship hit a mine laid by a German U-boat and sank in the Aegean Sea. The wreck lay at a depth of 400ft for 59 years until it was discovered by explorer Jacques Cousteau.

The Britannic's stored, luxurious furniture and fittings were auctioned in Belfast in 1919 and the ornate carved wood panelling was used to adorn the La Scala Theatre and Opera House in Dublin, which later became the Capitol Cinema.

It remained in place until the building's demolition in 1972, making way for what is now Penneys, and the panelling was in a private residence near Dublin until now.

Irish Independent

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