Belfast Telegraph

Rare 1916 Easter Rising artefacts set to break records at auction

By Chris Woodhouse

A century-old old bottle of whiskey once owned by a famed Belfast publican is going under the hammer - and could fetch almost £20,000.

The booze, distilled in 1916, is being sold as part of an auction of artefacts associated with the Easter Rising at Whyte’s in Dublin.

After spending 50 years in a barrel in bond storage, it was bottled in 1966, the 50th anniversary of the Rising, and later bought by Frank McGlade, owner of P & F McGlade on Belfast’s Donegall Street.

One of only four known surviving bottles from the original cask, it is estimated to fetch between £11,720 and £19,530 when it comes up for sale next Sunday.

Situated close to the Belfast Telegraph and Irish News offices, McGlade’s was a favourite haunt of journalists from both the local and national Press.

The bar was known as a haven of peace amid the sectarian violence of the Troubles, where punters from both sides of the religious and political divide could socialise in harmony.

It was also a popular drinking spot for local politicians, SDLP leader Gerry Fitt was a regular, as well as trade unionists and students from the nearby College of Art.

Sadly the hacks’ preferred watering hole was gutted by a fire started by an electrical fault in 1983.

Thought to be the oldest bottle of Irish whiskey to come to auction, it is just one lot in the sale of hundreds of artefacts connected to the Easter Rising.

Also listed is an original copy of the proclamation of the Irish Republic published by the Irish Volunteers to announce the start of their doomed bid to overthrow British rule in Ireland.

The poster, dated April 24, 1916, is one of only 17 known surviving examples and is expected to go for around £195,000.

Also up for grabs is a 1916 Rising medal sent to the wife of Joseph Plunkett.

Following the rebels’ surrender, Plunkett was executed by firing squad at Kilmainham Gaol.

In 1941 his wife Grace had become a prominent republican and refused to attend the presentation ceremony. When it was eventually posted to her she threw it in the bin.

It was rescued and is now thought to be worth between £54,690 and £78,130.

An officer’s buckle from the Armagh Militia is up for around £300.

Various other items for sale include letters from key Rising figures, photographs and newspapers carrying reports of the rebellion.

Ian Whyte, managing director of the auction house, said it was one of the best collection of 1916 artefacts he had ever encountered.

He said: “To own and handle a piece of history brings the past to life in a very special way.”

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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