2007-04-17-2014-04-23 --- 2014-04-23 10:01:48--
LOT :472
Estimate EUR : €4,000.00 - €5,000.00
Auction Date : 17-04-2007

Description

THE ORDERS AND MEDALS AWARDED TO GEORGE NOBLE, COUNT PLUNKETT. Four: The Order of the Holy Sepulchre, Knight Commander's neck badge in silver-gilt and red enamel, a cross potent with smaller plain crosses in the four angles, with trophy of arms suspension, 4'' (10cm) high overall, including suspension, reverse of the trophy of arms engraved ''George Noble Plunkett, Count of the Holy See'', late 19th century, of German manufacture (reverse of suspension ring stamped ''Silber''), with a black watered silk collar for wearing: The Order of the Advocates of St Peter, members breast badge in silver-gilt and enamel, a gilt eight-pointed Maltese cross with the ends of the arms couped fitchee, a burst of rays between each arm, superimposed on this, a white enamel cross, pattee, fitchee at all points, gilt medallion at centre bearing bust of the apostle St Peter in low relief, surrounded by a gilt rimmed blue enamel band bearing the title ''Avvocati di San Pietro'' (Advocates of St Peter), central badge on reverse with in relief the Papal tiara and crossed keys motif, this encircled by the words ''Fidei et Virtuti'' (Faithful and Virtuous), a gilt rimmed band around bearing the legend ''Tu Es Christus Fili Dei Vivi'' (You Are Christ The Living Son of God), with Papal tiara and crossed keys of St Peter gilt suspender, 2.75'' (7.3cm) high including suspension (unnamed, as issued): Ireland, The Service Medal 1917-21, without clasp (unnamed, as issued): The Charles Stewart Parnell Memorial Medal, silver, portrait of Parnell facing left in high relief at centre of obverse, legend ''Ireland's Army of Independence 1891'' around, the whole within a wreath of shamrocks and ivy, reverse with 6 line legend ''Let my love be conveyed to my colleagues and the Irish people'', with its ''Ireland A Nation'' top suspension brooch and original, though now somewhat frayed, green silk ribbon. The medals accompanied by a photograph of Count Plunkett wearing his Papal orders, probably taken circa 1910 on the occasion of a Dublin Castle function, and housed in a custom made display tray. Undoubtedly a unique combination of orders and medals to a participant in the 1916 Rising and War of Independence. George Noble, Count Plunkett in the Papal Nobility (1851-1948), scholar and revolutionary Irish Republican, was born on 3 December 1851, at 1 Aungier Street, Dublin, the youngest and only survivor into adulthood of the three children of Patrick Joseph Plunkett (1817-1918), and his first wife Elizabeth Noble. The family was Roman Catholic and nationalist. As a result, the torch that Count Plunkett carried throughout his life was passed to him at an early date. The Plunkett house was a well-known drop-in centre for nationalists, and shortly after Plunkett's birth two strangers called at the house and asked to see the newborn child. Each held Plunkett in turn and then announced to his parents ''Now tell him when he grows up that the Big Drummer and the Little Drummer of Vinegar Hill held him when he was a baby''. Plunkett's father grew rich expanding the wealthy Dublin suburb of Rathmines and was able to provide him with an excellent education, which culminated in 12 years of travel on the continent and study at Trinity College, Dublin. A generous allowance let him amass knowledge on Renaissance and medieval art, while postponing taking his law finals until 1884. Extremely charitable, he financed a gold medal for Irish speakers at his university in 1877, and in 1883 donated funds and property to the nursing order the Little Company of Mary (Blue Sisters). For this, on 4 April 1884, Pope Leo XIII made him a hereditary count (Knight Commander of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre). On 25 June of the same year Plunkett married Josephine Cranny (1858-1944). The newlyweds embarked on a honeymoon that lasted for two years, travelling initially via England and France to Rome, and then from Italy to the Americas, where they journeyed extensively in the U.S.A. and Brazil. The Count and Countess had seven children, three boys and four girls. Up until the early 1890's and despite his friendship with O'Donovan Rossa, Plunkett gave the impression of being more a clericalist than a nationalist; an it was his father, on Rathmines Urban District Council, who was considered the family's political activist. The fall of his friend Charles Stewart Parnell and his tragic death in 1891 had a profound effect. Plunkett stood in the 1892 general election as a Parnellite candidate for Mid-Tyrone, but withdrew from the three-cornered fight so as to avoid letting in the Unionist. He also stood unsuccessfully as a candidate for elections in 1895, 1898 and 1900. In 1907 Plunkett was appointed director of the National Museum of Ireland. There he was enormously successful, turning what had been a little visited backwater into an important institution, and in the process increasing annual visitor numbers from 100 to 3,000. Meanwhile his children grew and radicalised. From 1914 Joseph Mary and his two brothers were planning armed revolt. In April 1916 Joe swore his father into the Irish Republican Brotherhood and sent him to Europe with instructions to communicate secretly with Casement in Germany, support his attempts to secure arms and ensure their arrival after the rising had commenced, so as no to give the plot away. Afterwards, Count Plunkett travelled to Rome to secure a papal blessing for the projected Easter Rising. In Rome Plunkett had a personal audience with the Pope, and after describing the desperate prospect the Volunteers faced, asked the Pope to bless the volunteers. Plunkett later recounted that the Pope gave his blessing while tears of sympathy poured down his face. On the eve of the Rising Plunkett embarked on another secret mission, visiting the various Catholic bishops in Ireland, briefing them on his meeting with the Pope and the fact that he had given his blessing to the Rising, and eliciting their support. On his return to Dublin, on Easter Tuesday 1916, the 65 year old Count made his way to the G.P.O., where he asked to be admitted as a Volunteer. There his son Joe, by now a signatory of the Proclamation and Director of Operations for the Irish Volunteers, told the Count that there were more than enough men present, and, using his rank to full effect, ordered his elderly father home. Count Plunkett was arrested on the Friday following the Rising, 28th April, and marched through Dublin with other prisoners to Richmond Barracks. Whilst there, he was put in line for a court martial on three separate occasions. In a remarkable parallel with the experience of his ancestor 235 years earlier, influential individuals from Ireland and overseas intervened to insist that he be spared. Whilst intervention had failed the innocent Oliver Plunkett, it saved the Count, who was eventually sentenced to be deported. The Count was in Richmond Barracks when his son, Joe, faced court martial, and saw him on that day for the last time. Joe was standing in the pouring rain in the barracks square, and noticed his father in the distance looking out of one of the prison windows. Father and son stood looking at each other a full 20 minutes until Joe was moved on. On the night before Joseph Mary Plunkett's execution, Count and Countess Plunkett were brought to Kilmainham jail. At 4am the Count heard gunfire, and knew immediately that it was his son's execution that was taking place. Unlike the relatives of the other executed 1916 leaders, the Plunketts had not been permitted to see their son before he was executed, and were returned to Richmond Barracks immediately after the execution. Count Plunkett's two other sons, George and Jack, who had also been in the G.P.O., were both initially sentenced to death after the Rising, their sentences subsequently being commuted to terms of imprisonment. Official circles were outraged. Plunkett lost his job at the National Museum and was expelled from the Royal Dublin Society. When he was deported to England with his wife the Count was given the choice of city to which he wanted to be exiled, and chose Oxford because he wanted to read there at the Bodleian Library. However, when the Count arrived in Oxford he was denied access to the library by an Irishman who did not approve of his politics, and refused to give him a reader's ticket. The role that Plunkett had played in the Rising and his new profile now made him the popular choice of the survivors of the rising to fight a pending by-election in North Roscommon. He returned to Ireland illegally on 31 January 1917, and won the seat easily three days later. On being elected, he declared that he would not take his seat at Westminster, and instead set up the republican Liberty Clubs, based on the Proclamation of the Republic, and with the objective of achieving the 1916 Republic by abstentionism. Next, with a view to healing the divisions that had erupted following the failure of the Rising, Plunkett organised a meeting of the various Irish republican, nationalist and labour groupings, which established a broad front that even incorporated radical nationalist groups like Sinn Fein. In October 1917 that front became the new Sinn Fein, pledged to Plunkett's republic, rather than Arthur Griffiths and the old Sinn Fein's 'Kings, Lords and Commons', Plunkett and Griffiths becoming the new party's Vice-Presidents under de Valera. Plunkett was interned again on 18 May 1918 but released because of illness on 31st December 1918, after the Sinn Fein general election landslide, at which he had retained his Roscommon seat. Plunkett presided, on 17th January 1919, at the planning meeting of the republican parliament, Dail Eireann, and at the Dail's opening session on the 21st January. The next day Cathal Brugha appointed him minister for foreign affairs in his temporary cabinet. The uncontested ''Southern Irish'' elections to the 2nd Dail of 13th May 1921 shocked Britain into negotiating, and the truce was signed on 11th July of that year. By August of 1921 Sinn Fein discussions regarding the treaty were in full swing, and Plunkett was immediately at loggerheads with De Valera, opposing the latter's 'Cuban' idea of an Ireland in a continuing external relationship with Britain. As a result, De Valera removed Plunkett from the cabinet, sidelining him from the negotiations in the new post of Minister of Fine Arts. Plunkett vehemently opposed the treaty which Michael Collins signed, citing his oath to the Republic and those, like his son, who had died for it. Defeated, he left office on 9th January 1922. Plunkett immediately set up the anti-treaty party Cumann na Poblachta, which was defeated in the June 1922 general election, though he himself was returned un-opposed. He and his allies abstained from the new non-republican Dail. When the Civil War broke out the Republicans appointed him to their Council of State, and the Treatyites interned him. In the post-civil war general election of August 1923, the first since 1917 at which he had faced a challenger, the interned Count topped the poll in his new multi-seat constituency, Roscommon. Released in December 1923, Plunkett went on to split again from De Valera when the latter proposed entering the Treatyite Dail, remained loyal to the abstentionist policy of Sinn Fein, but went on to lose his deposit in the June 1927 general election. Abstentionist Republicanism continued to fragment and marginalize. When Plunkett tried to revive his 1917 strategy in 1936, announcing a new political party, Cumann Poblachta na hEireann, and ran for it in a Galway by-election, he lost his deposit again. Two years later, on 8 December 1938, with the six other remaining abstentionist deputies of the second Dail, Plunkett transferred republican authority to the Army Council of the Irish Republican Army. Count Plunkett died after a long and active life on 12th March 1948, missing the changeover from Free State to Republic by nine months. He was given a state funeral and was buried in the republican plot, Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin, on 13th March. Plunkett's contribution to the establishment of an independent Ireland is now largely forgotten, Treatyite abuse and eventual political isolation during the 1930's having diminished appreciation of his role. None the less, it remains a fact that it was his 1917 political strategy, the Republic and Abstentionism, and his dogged pursuit of that strategy, which eventually achieved the treaty settlement. It is a strategy that many independence movements around the world have adopted since that date, and has remained the strategy of a significant number of Irish nationalists since his death. Though ennobled by the Pope, the sole medallic award that Count Plunkett received from the state that he helped to found was the Service Medal 1917-21 without clasp, the Count being denied a 1916 Medal because, although he had played an important role politically, diplomatically and as a secret agent in the months leading up to and during the Rising, he had not borne arms during the Rising itself. He was likewise denied the Comrac clasp to his Service Medal. The Order of the Holy Sepulchre was founded by Godefroy de Bouillon, leader of the First Crusade, who captured Jerusalem from the Saracens in 1099. Godefroy established the order in that year to commemorate his great victory, founding an order of knights dedicated to the protection of holy places and pilgrims. By the 19th century it was one of only two religious orders of knighthood recognised by the Holy See (the other being the Sovereign Holy Order of Malta), and was awarded for services to the Holy See, and to individuals who engaged in important charitable work. The motto of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, ''Deus Lo Vult'' (God Wishes It) is that given to the first crusaders by Urban II (1088-1099). The Advocates of St Peter, who awarded Plunkett their Member's Medal, was an organisation of legal professionals whose statutes were confirmed by a brief of Pope Leo XIII on 5th July 1878. The organisation's principal object was to defend the Catholic church and protect its rights and privileges, both in the spiritual and temporal order. It bound its members to refute attacks by enemies of the church, whether derived from distortions of history, jurisprudence or dogma, and above all they were committed to defending the rights of the church before civil tribunals. Members formed themselves into Colleges, each of which was affiliated to the central Directory in Rome. It is believed that The Charles Stewart Parnell Memorial Medal was presented to prominent political supporters who took part in Parnell's funeral ceremony in 1891. Despite being an ardent supporter of the Catholic church, after Parnell's fall as a result of being cited in a divorce action, Plunkett spoke out for his friend against the priests. His valued friendship and support would explain the presence of this medal among the Count's orders and medals. The Knight's Breast Badge of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre that forms part of this lot is not the one originally awarded to Plunkett by Pope Leo XIII. Like many other recipients of high orders and decorations, he clearly feared damaging or losing the original, which was an award directly from the Pope. Count Plunkett purchased a duplicate badge privately, for wear on ceremonial and state occasions. The original, probably of Italian manufacture, was seldom worn, as testified to by photographs of Count Plunkett, wherein he is invariably depicted wearing the duplicate badge offered here. The fact that the duplicate badge was made in Germany indicates that it was probably purchased during one of the Count's many visits to the continent. The two badges of the order that Count Plunkett owned are readily distinguishable, the example that he wore being of the type with cross potent and small plain crosses in the angles, whereas the badge originally awarded to him by Pope Leo III is of a rare early type with cross potent and small crosses potent in the angles.

Hammer Price : €12,000.00

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