AUCTIONEER Seán Eacrett was unsurprisingly a little shocked when he discovered an old shell in a suitcase at Marshalltown Cottage, Castledermot recently.
The shell, which dates to 1895 and is approximately eight inches in length, was found among four suitcases of historical memorabilia that were originally bought over 35 years ago in a jumble sale and remained in the cottage’s attic until recent days.
The entire contents of the cottage will go under the hammer at an auction in Ballybrittas on Saturday 27 April at 10am. Mr Eacrett explained that the shell is probably the most unusual item he has found.
“You’re always hoping for the quirky stuff, but I suppose not that quirky,” he said.
The shell was removed for ballistic inspection by gardaí, aided by the army’s bomb disposal unit, and while Mr Eacrett isn’t aware of whether it was live, he hopes it will be returned in time for the sale this weekend.
“(They said) it might take up to two weeks to get an answer on it,” he said. “We
would like to think it would be, but it might not be back.”
Given the eclectic and international nature of the collection he uncovered, he explained that it was difficult to say where the shell came from, though it is valuable, as it’s made of brass and copper – not to mention the historic angle.
The collection is something of a treasure trove for history buffs and includes a signed copy of the third and final draft of the constitution and a Sinn Féin rebellion handbook, an original 1922 typist letter detailing the murder of Erskine Childers, a German military officer’s cap, trench maps from France from the First World War, reconnaissance photographs from World War II and a letter written by prisoner-of-war John Barnwell to his brother Edward while on his journey back home from a POW camp in Japan.
“It’s very difficult to say where it came from,” he noted.
Also up for grabs at the auction will be two rare 1985 20p coins (according to information as part of a recent Whyte’s auction, less than 50 of the roughly 500 trial coins issued were not returned), as well as a letter signed by Winston Churchill and an original typeset of The Nation War issue 18, relating to the Mountjoy executions of Rory O’Connor, Liam Mellows, Joe McKelvey and Richard Barrett.
“There is some really good stuff in it,” said Mr Eacrett, noting that they’re expecting a good crowd.
“You never know what you’re going to get.”