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Ireland's anthem up for grabs on eBay
[March 08, 2006]

Ireland's anthem up for grabs on eBay

(Daily Mail Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)THEY go to the very heart of Irish history.

They are the rousing words - handwritten by a patriotic young Dubliner - which would become Ireland's national anthem.

But the original copy of Peadar Kearney's Amhran na bhFiann, penned in 1907, could soon be on its way out of the country when it is put up for sale on Internet auction site eBay.

The words, scrawled on two sheets of paper, are among 400 items relating to the struggle for independence going under the hammer in Dublin next month.

Other lots include a telegram from King George V to Irish secretary of state William T Cosgrave informing him that Ireland would be granted independence.

The tricolour thought to have flown over the GPO in the Easter Rising of 1916 and a typewriter belonging to Michael Collins, with an essay he wrote about warfare, aged 14, are also included.

The sale, by leading auction houses James Adam & Sons and Mealy's Auctioneers, is expected to fetch more than E3million, with Kearney's anthem estimated at between E800,000 and E1.2million.

Adam's director Stuart Cole admitted the eBay sale would increase the chances of historically important items being sold to foreign collectors. He said: 'The chances are that a lot of it will go out of the country, but that's the nature of the beast.

'We are here to get the best possible price for our clients and market the lots to the widest possible audience.' The Independence Sale, scheduled for April 12 to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising, is described as the 'most comprehensive and significant auction of Irish history yet to take place'.

Fonsie Mealy, who runs Mealy's, described the national anthem lot - currently owned by a private Irish collector - as of 'supreme national importance' and said he hoped it would stay in Irish hands. Kearney wrote his song in English, with the title The Soldier's Song, in 1907 when he was a 24-year-old housepainter and part-time teacher.

His friend Patrick Heaney wrote a stirring tune to accompany his words.

It lay forgotten for almost 20 years before being translated into Irish and adopted as the national anthem in 1926.

Bids for the document will be accepted on eBay's subsidiary,

. An original copy of the 1916 Proclamation of Independence has been donated to the National Museum.

The family of Joseph McCrossan, who worked for many years as librarian in the Oireachtas, handed over the document, which is similar to one which sold for a world record E390,000 at auction in Dublin in 2004.

Research has failed to establish how many Proclamations survived the Easter Rising but it is believed around 20 still exist.

Michael Kenny, keeper at the museum, said: 'The Proclamation was picked up in O'Connell Street in 1916 by Mary McCrossan, the paternal grandmother of the McCrossans.

'She hid the document in the lining of her hat to protect it.' The Proclamation will be central to the exhibition 'The Easter Rising: Understanding 1916', which will open in the museum in April for the 90th anniversary.

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