Howth Castle Library Sale raises over €750,000

by Rose Barrett
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The two-day auction of the contents of Howth Castle’s library ended last week, writes Rose Barrett, and raised an astounding €750,000, vastly exceeding expectations.

The sale which concluded on Thursday, 23 September was conducted by Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers, and was deemed to be the most important literary sale hosted in Ireland for decades and generated enormous international interest.

The library sale followed the sale of the rest of the contents of Howth Castle earlier this month, which sold for over €2.1m.

Last week’s library sale contained countless items of immense historical significance dating from the Gaisford-St Lawrence family’s 800-year residence at the castle.

Rosellini History of Egypt

The highest price raised was for an original copy of Ippolito Rosselini’s history of Egypt, including three volumes of magnificently illustrated plates, which sold for €74,000. A gift from the Duke of Northumberland, this quality piece is believed to be the finest remaining piece in existence.

Another headline item for auction was the vast archive of letters from recently beatified Saint John Henry Newman, which sold for €28,000.

A significant archive of correspondence addressed to Thomas Gaisford, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, including letters from five former British Prime Ministers, which sold for €20,000.

Newman Letters

Commenting on the sale, George Mealy of Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers said that along with vast international interest, there were also local bidders in Howth. “They will be very happy to know that many of the most significant items will remain in Ireland.’’ 

Full details of the auction can be found at

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