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Martin McGuinness's matchstick prison art goes under hammer

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Matchstick tower made by Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness

Matchstick tower made by Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams pictured canvassing with Martin McGuinness, Alex Maskey and Danny Morrison shortly after he was shot and injured in a UDA gun attack in Belfast city centre.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams pictured canvassing with Martin McGuinness, Alex Maskey and Danny Morrison shortly after he was shot and injured in a UDA gun attack in Belfast city centre.

Martin McGuinness  in Derry's Bogside at a  press conference. 1971

Martin McGuinness in Derry's Bogside at a press conference. 1971

Keith Drury's painting of former First Minister Ian Paisley and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness

Keith Drury's painting of former First Minister Ian Paisley and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness

President of Sinn Fein Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness  at the funeral of Patrick Kelly . 1987

President of Sinn Fein Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness at the funeral of Patrick Kelly . 1987

In the past: Martin McGuinness pictured brandishing a gun

In the past: Martin McGuinness pictured brandishing a gun

Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein, pictured leaving court in Belfast after charges against him involving IRA membership were dropped 1976.

Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein, pictured leaving court in Belfast after charges against him involving IRA membership were dropped 1976.

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones, Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones, Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond

Martin McGuinness

Martin McGuinness

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness

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Matchstick tower made by Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness

Building it from matchsticks over many months took a level of patience which stood Martin McGuinness well during the peace process negotiations.

The Deputy First Minister built the model of an Irish round tower in Portlaoise Prison in 1974 after he was convicted of IRA membership by the Special Criminal Court in Dublin.

Now the rare piece of republican art goes under the hammer later this month.

The model was a present for the late Londonderry-born priest Father Jimmy Shiels, whose family have now put the item up for sale at an auction in Whyte's Auctioneers later this month.

The auction will also feature a World War One recruitment poster issued by the Department of Recruiting for Ireland in 1915.

The poster portrays an Irish farmer ploughing a field, pausing to look at a ghostly vision of St Patrick who is gesturing to the ruins of Reims Cathedral.

Father Jimmy Shiels' sister, Rosaleen Shiels, said: "My brother Jimmy was a nationalist, not a republican, but he visited republican prisoners in Portlaoise and places to say Mass and hear their confession. Being from Derry, he would have been a friend and neighbour of Martin's."

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Father Shiels treasured the round tower until his death in 2004.

But now, because of its fragility and historical significance, his sister believes the tower would be safer in the hands of a collector, who will be expected to pay something in the region of €1,000-€1,500 (£860-£1290).

Auctioneer Ian Whyte said there has already been "huge interest" in the item and a similar piece, a handkerchief decorated with republican imagery and signed by Gerry Adams and 65 other republican prisoners in the Maze in 1971, which has a guide price of €300-€500 (£260-£430).


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