The map, and accompanying notes, kept by an agent in Britain’s MI5, went under the hammer at Chorley’s Auctioneers in Cheltenham, England on Tuesday with a top pre-sale estimate of £2,000 (€2,500). But, after what auctioneer Simon Chorley described as ‘frenzied bidding’, the hammer fell at £7,000 to an unnamed telephone bidder.
Kerry County Museum’s curator, Helen O’Carroll, confirmed that she had acquired the map and note for the museum’s collection with financial support from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. When the buyer’s premium is added to the hammer price, the cost, at current exchange rates, will be about €10,600.
She said: ‘It’s a lot of money but this is going to be with us long after the 1916 centenary’.
The map, which Casement drew at the insistence of his interrogators in Scotland Yard, will go on public view in an already-planned exhibition, Casement in Kerry, at the museum in Tralee to be opened by President Michael D Higgins on April 21st.
The map shows that Casement had buried valuables including gold and silver ‘under some fern bracken and bramble’ in a rath, close to Currahane Moat near Ardfert, Co Kerry, shortly after he disembarked from a German U-Boat on 21 April 1916. He was later hanged for treason.
The accompanying note by Maj Frank Hall, the infamous MI5 agent code-named ‘Q’, reveals that Casement’s valuables were divided up among his interrogators, including two Royal Irish Constabulary officers in Kerry, Sgt Thomas Hearne and Constable Bernard Reilly, who received Casement’s money – £50 in gold and silver coins.