Contents of Howth Castle to be sold at auction

Contents Of Howth Castle To Be Sold At Auction Contents Of Howth Castle To Be Sold At Auction
The dining room at Howth Castle.
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Fine art and historical items will be up for sale in an upcoming auction of the contents of Howth Castle.

Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers, from Kilkenny, will auction the contents of Howth Castle on September 8th and 9th and September 22nd and 23rd.

The first auction, entitled ‘Family Contents’ will be a two-day sale and will take place in the Grand Hotel, Malahide, Co Dublin.

This fine art sale will feature over 800 years of various items collected by the Gaisford-St Lawrence family. These include rugs, furniture, objet d’art, important George 2nd gilded tables and chairs.

The contents of Howth Castle are set to be sold at auction.

A large quantity of family silver and crested cutlery will feature in this sale, the two-handed Sword of Howth will be amongst the very rare militaria section of sale, which includes medals, swords, military uniforms and ceremonial costumes.


One of the most striking items in the Family Contents sale is the portrait of Johnathan Swift, painted by Irish gentleman painter, Francis Bindon (c.1690-1765).

The painting is believed to be one of the most important and finest 18th century Irish works of art to come onto the open market. The painting features Johnathan Swift with the people of Ireland honouring him. The painting has been at Howth Castle since 1735.

Another very rare painting is described as a ‘Bird’s Eye view of Howth Castle’. It is believed to have been painted in 1740 and presented as a gift from the Earls of Howth.

Other items include chairs and ceremonial items involved in the visit of Queen Victoria and other royal notables who have visited Howth Castle. The first auction includes rare Asian artworks, pottery and ceramic items.

The second auction, entitled ‘The Library Sale’, will take place at the Marine Hotel, Sutton Cross, Co Dublin. The centrepiece of this auction is an extremely rare collection of 24 original letters by John Henry Newman (1863-1878). This collection of letters has been painstakingly curated over the centuries by the Gaisford-St. Lawrence family.

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) was one of the most influential and controversial figures of 19th century religious life in England. A High Church Anglican and Oxford academic, he converted to the Roman Catholic Church in 1845, was made a cardinal in 1879. In 2019 he was declared a saint.


The dining room at Howth Castle.

In 1849, Newman founded in Birmingham a congregation of the Oratory, and ten years later established an Oratory School as a Catholic alternative to Eton. Always concerned with the education of young Catholic gentleman (he had been instrumental in founding the Catholic University of Ireland in 1854), Newman proposed to establish at Oxford a branch of the Birmingham Oratory for Catholic students of the University.

The letters are addressed to Thomas Gaisford, eldest son of the late Dean of Christ Church, who was (like Newman) a recent convert to Catholicism and an enthusiastic supporter of the project.

Most of the letters for sale date from 1863-1867 and concern the suitability of a site then being offered and the raising of subscriptions to pay for purchasing it and building the college. The project was abandoned in 1872. Associated papers include copies of Gaisford’s replies; points arising; printed circulars; and a sketch map of the proposed site.

The front hall at Howth Castle.

Other very rare letters in this library sale include correspondence by Sir Robert Peel, former British prime minister (1834-1835/1841-1846) and home secretary (1822-1827/1828-1830) and one of the founders of the modern Conservative party and the father of modern British policing.

Other letters contained in this Library Sale include letters by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, who was also served for a short period as Prime Minister (17th November — 9th December 1834).

Other notable books in The Library Sale date back to 15th and 16th century, many of them from an extremely rare collection of Greek, Latin, and Italian books from the period. Also contained within this sale are maps, drawings, sketches and other items that had been contained within a learned man’s estate for over 800 years at Howth Castle.

Art and historical items will be sold at the auction.

Members of the public can view the first auction, entitled ‘Family Contents’ from Saturday, September 4th — Tuesday, September 7th, from 10am-6pm.

The second auction, entitled ‘The Library Sale’, can be viewed from Saturday, September 18th –Tuesday, September 21st, from 10am-6pm.

Places are strictly limited, register your interest on Private viewings can also be arranged during the time.

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