One of only three known copies of Robert Emmet’s 19th-century proclamation goes under the hammer.
Entitled The Provisional Government to the People of Ireland, the 21-inch by 17.5-inch document by Ian Whyte has been described by Whyte and Sons Auctioneers in Dublin as “the most important Irish document in the history of Ireland and probably the rarest Irish Revolutionary document to have survived.” still exists, described existence”.
The condition of the 1803 copy is very good, with a light water stain, but has recently been conserved.
The document had been in the Wolfe family of Forenaughts House in Co Kildare since 1803 until it was passed to a private collector in 1994.
Pádraig Pearse’s 1916 Rising Proclamation is largely based on the 19th-century proclamation.
A political activist at Trinity College, Emmet was elected Secretary of the secret United Irish Committee but was expelled in April 1798.
He fled to France to avoid the many arrests that took place after the rebellion that year.
After returning to Ireland, Emmet began preparing for rebellion with fellow revolutionaries Thomas Russell and James Hope.
As part of the preparations, Emmet wrote the proclamation, which began by echoing republican sentiments expressed during the previous rebellion and urging the Irish people to claim their right to independence.
It served not only as a call to arms but also as an interim constitution and is remarkably forward-looking in terms of constitutional law.
Mr Whyte stated that up to 10,000 copies were said to have been clandestinely printed on 23 July 1803 on Emmet’s orders, but the British authorities went to great lengths to ensure the contents were suppressed and nearly all were destroyed.
“Since the penalty for possession of the 1803 Proclamation was very severe, and in certain circumstances could even lead to the gallows, few were willing to keep it, which has made it one of the rarest, if not the rarest, important print document in the Irish revolutionary history.”
He said they could not find any publicly-held record of an example of the 1803 document.
Lot 35 in the Eclectic Collector’s Auction at Whyte and Sons Auctioneers is valued at up to €70,000.
The auction will take place on May 21st.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/the-most-important-document-in-irelands-history-robert-emmets-1803-proclamation-is-for-sale-41648524.html “The most important document in the history of Ireland” – Robert Emmet’s proclamation of 1803 – is for sale