Seller defends the origins of €1m Pearse letter

The State will not buy the 1916 surrender letter when it is goes 'under the hammer' on Wednesday

Seller defends the origins of €1m Pearse letter

Rolling News

Adam's auctioneers have refuted claims that suspicions hang over how it came to own a letter written by Pádraig Pearse calling for a final surrender during the Easter Rising.

A report in The Irish Times highlighted a letter from Capuchin Franciscan Order which said that the document had disappeared from its archives without authorisation.

Stuart Cole, a Director of Adam’s Auctioneers and Br Adrian Curran, Provincial Minister of the Capuchin Order in Ireland have issued a statement to address the alleged impropriety relating to the acquisition of the final official letter written by Pádraig Pearse during the insurrection.

The document has been on display at the GPO's Witness History Exhibition and is expected to fetch between €1m and €1.5m.

It says that the report "utterly misrepresent the true facts of how the letter came to auction" - and warned that left unaddressed this could compromise the "integrity" of the sale.

It offers this account of the surrender's journey to this week's auction:

"The letter of surrender was given to Fr Columbus by Pádraig Pearse in 1916 after the Capuchin priest went to Arbour Hill to ask Pearse to re-write the surrender note.

"The letter passed from Br Columbus OFM (Franciscan Order) to Br Conrad OFM who, as head of the Capuchin Order in Ireland, gifted it to the father of the vendor in the 1960s. It was then inherited in the 1980s and thereafter it was sold by auction in 2005, only after efforts to sell it to the State failed."

State Offer

In 2005 the document was offered to the National Library for €50,000 but it was only willing to pay €10,000.

The letter went on to fetch €800,000 at auction - it was bought by an anonymous individual.

Professor of Modern Irish History at UCD, Diarmaid Ferriter, said the letter is of "immense historical significance" - it was the last official letter written by the leader of the insurrection.

James Adams Fine Art reports that the letter has already attracted interest from buyers outside of Ireland.

A spokesperson for Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys confirmed that the State will not be considering a last minute bid.

"A senior official from the Department of Arts met with a representative of Adams Auctioneers in mid-October to discuss the Pearse letter. The Department was informed the letter had a guide price of €1m to €1.5m. The Department consulted with the relevant national cultural institutions and it was agreed that the amount being sought for this one letter would not be the best use of taxpayers' money, especially in light of the fact that our cultural institutions hold a number of other letters written by Pearse during and after the Rising," the Department told Newstalk.

It highlights similar artifacts that are in the State's possession - including a surrender order signed by Pearse, with countersignatures by James Connolly and Thomas MacDonagh which carries an almost identical message to the letter which is set to be sold next week.