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The Tim O’Mahony Collection, for sale at Sheppard’s in Durrow, Co Laois on March 24, features reminders of the Irish role in administering the British Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The sale will go ahead online on thesaleroom.com, by phone and commission bid, but without bidders in the room because of Irish anti-Coronavirus precautions.

With almost 600 lots and estimates ranging from €200-6000, the collection features Chinese porcelain, Anglo-Indian ivory boxes, Native American objects as well as European, Mughal and Grand Tour art.

'Breadth and scope'

The cross-cultural collection “encompasses the breadth and scope of Mr O’Mahony‘s exceptional and eclectic taste, including decorative arts, paintings, and fine furniture,” auctioneer Philip Sheppard said. 

O’Mahony, a collector from Borris in County Carlow, bought many of the objects in local Irish auction houses, including Sheppard’s. The items and art from far-flung places, as well as closer to home, reflect Ireland's role in British colonial history, Sheppard said.

Anglo-Irish landlord class

“Many of the objects are reflective of the Anglo-Irish landlord class where the second son went to China and India as administrators and soldiers. It’s an aspect of Ireland’s past that is often ignored in the more recent nationalist narrative of Irish history.”

Sheppard added: “These items didn’t just happen to come back to Ireland. They were brought back by those Irish actors in the British colonialist administration of the 18th and 19th centuries."

The Irish Parliament was abolished in 1800 with the Act of Union, diminishing Ireland's status and prompting a relocation back to Great Britain by many landowners.

Objects hailing from the British Isles include a pair of Cromwellian-period carved oak chairs and two oil on canvas paintings by Frederick Gerard Kinnaird (Fl. 1864-81).

'Scholar collector'

Sheppard said that O’Mahony has frequented the Durrow auction house “for as long as I can remember”.

“Tim is a scholar collector and generous with his knowledge. The breadth and scope of the collection reflects his sharp eye honed by scholarship and an insatiable quest for quality, and that’s the best way to collect.”