Thurles History Goes Under Auctioneers Hammer

Yet another chunk of Thurles and Co. Tipperary’s amazing history has been sold off at an auction held in Chatsworth Street, Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny, on Wednesday March 7th last.

Four rare works of art, once commissioned by the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, back in the early to mid 19th century, went under the hammer at Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers, in their recent Chatsworth Fine Art Sale.

Pictured L-R: Oil painted portraits of three Cashel & Emly Archbishops & one senior Priest (1) Michael Slattery (1833-1857), (2) Patrick Leahy (1857-1875), (3) Rev Edmund Ryan (1856-1868), & (4) Patrick Everard (1820-1821).

Lots numbered 268 to 271, which comprised the four oil paintings, of a former Senior Priest and three former Archbishops were sold off for between €300 to €500 each.

(1) Lot 268, estimated between €400-€600 was sold for €500, featuring Archbishop of Cashel, Michael Slattery, in a half length portrait of a gentleman seated in clerical garb, [Approx. size 89cms x 69cms (35″ x 27″)] in a heavy gilt frame.

Archbishop Slattery served as Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cashel & Emly from 1833 to 1857. Born in Tipperary Town 1783, he was educated at the Abbey School before entering Trinity College, Dublin at fifteen years of age, one of the first Roman Catholics ever to do so, eventually earning a Bachelor of Arts degree. Having decided to become a Roman Catholic priest, he was enrolled at St. Patrick’s  College, Carlow, before being ordained in 1809 and continued on at the collage as a professor of Philosophy and of Moral Theology. Later he served in the parishes of Ulla, Co. Limerick for two years, and in Borrisoleigh, Thurles, Co. Tipperary for over twenty years.

In 1832 he was elected president of St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth and served for two years. A supporter of moderate Nationalism and of Daniel O’Connell (Latter responsible for Catholic Emancipation passed by Parliament in 1829), he regularly spoke out against militant nationalism.

He was elected to succeed Archbishop Robert Laffan as head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly later that year, and was installed at Thurles Cathedral on February 24th 1834, going on to established a foreign missions department in St. Patrick’s College, Thurles in 1842.

Archbishop Slattery passed away in Thurles on February 4th 1857.

(2) Lot 269, estimated between: €400-€600 was sold for €340, and featured Archbishop of Cashel, Patrick Leahy, in a half length portrait of a gentleman in religious attire, [Approx. size 92cms x 71cms (36″ x 28″)] in a heavy gilt frame. (This sale must surely be to our greatest shame.)
Archbishop Leahy, son of Patrick Leahy, a civil engineer and Cork county surveyor, was born near Thurles, Co. Tipperary, on May 31st 1806, before being educated at Maynooth.

Serving as a curate in the diocese of Cashel, he was soon appointed professor of Theology and Scripture in St. Patrick’s College, Thurles, and shortly afterwards became President of the same institution. On August 22nd 1850 he became one of the secretaries of the Synod of Thurles, before being appointed parish priest of Thurles and Vicar General of the Diocese of Cashel.

When the Catholic University was opened in Dublin in 1854, he was selected for the office of vice-rector, under the then rector Dr. J. H. Newman, (later Cardinal Newman), filling a professor’s chair. He was elected Archbishop of Cashel on April 27th 1857 before being consecrated on June 29th of the same year. In 1866 and 1867 he, tiogether with the Bishop of Clonfert were both deputed, to conduct the negotiations with Lord Mayo, (Styled Lord Naas between 1842 and 1867, a statesman, Viceroy of India and prominent member of the British Conservative Party from Dublin), the chief secretary for Ireland, with respect to the proposed endowment of the Roman Catholic university.

He was a strong advocate in the cause for temperance; enforcing the Sunday closing of public-houses in his Diocese. Indeed it was due to his energy that the Cathedral of The Assumption, in Thurles was constructed at a cost of £45,000 then pounds.

Archbishop Leahy died at the Bishops residence here in Thurles on January 26th 1875, and is interred (February 3rd 1875) within Thurles Cathedral.

(3)Lot 270, with a value estimated between: €400-€600 same was sold for €300, and featured Cashel and Emly Priest Rev. Edmund Ryan, in a half length Portrait of a gentleman seated, book in hand, in priests collar, [Approx. size 89cms x 69cms (35″ x 27″)] in heavy gilt frame.

(4) Lot 271, estimated between €400-€600 was sold for €300, and featured Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Patrick Everard, in a portrait of a gentleman seated in clerical attire, with Bishop’s coat of arms in top right corner, [Approx. size 89cms x 69cms (35″ x 27″)].

Archbishop Everard was born in Fethard, Co. Tipperary, and attended a local classical school. He was educated at the University of Salamanca in Spain where he had moved in 1776. He was ordained in 1783 and obtained a doctorate of Divinity from Bordeaux University. Following his studies, he was elected President of the Irish College in Bordeaux and Vicar General to the Archbishop of Bordeaux, until the French Revolution drove him out of the country. He spent some time in England as principal of a lay academy at Ulverstone, in the South Lakeland district of Cumbria, Lancashire, North West England, which he had purchased from the Jesuits, before becoming the president of Maynooth College in Ireland.

Following the death of Archbishop Thomas Bray on December 15th 1820, Patrick Everard automatically succeeded as the metropolitan archbishop of Cashel and Emly, until his death in 1821.

All four paintings were sold for a total final hammer price of just €1,440, or if you like, less than a current TD’s weekly minimum wage of €1,800.

It would appear that no one, to our shame here in Co. Tipperary, is minding our shop.


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