GAA History buffs with a bit of money left in their pockets in spite of the recession might want to hold on to some of that cash ahead of a once in a lifetime sale of rare All Ireland memorabilia, to be auctioned in Kilkenny later this month.
Four lots are going under the hammer at George Mealy’s Rare Books Ltd, including a baseball bat gifted to Tipp Senior Hurling Champion and 1916 freedom fighter Frank McGrath by the legendary baseball player Babe Ruth.
Frank is the namesake of his grandson, well known retired school teacher Frank McGrath, who lives in Nenagh.
Other lots up for auction include two beautiful 19th century All Ireland Hurling Titles featuring magnificent nine carat gold Medals in the traditional Celtic Cross design, one with worn green enamel overlay, the other inscribed with “1899 All-Ireland Hurling Championship won by Moycarkey”, described as being in “good” condition, and “very scarce”.
Tipperary GAA fans can also make a raid on enemy territory by acquiring some extremely rare Kilkenny silverware. No less than seven gold Medals and one silver Kilkenny 1st, 2nd and 3rd All-Ireland Medals, are being sold, each in the Celtic Cross design.
These were awarded to Jack Anthony for playing on all three winning Kilkenny teams. A rare medal minted by the City of Kilkenny granting him the freedom of the City is also up for sale.
Auctioneer George Mealy says that if the medals could talk, they might have a few colourful stories to tell about their previous owners.
“In 1926, Frank McGrath brought the first ever Inter-County Team from Ireland to the USA under the banner of the GAA.
“During their stay a civic reception was held in New York, at the Astor Hotel on the 22nd May, hosted by the then Mayor, Jimmy Walker (‘Beau James’) whose father was from Castlecomer, County Kilkenny, together with the Tipperary Men’s Association of New York.
“There was also an organised visit and reception for the Tipperary Team at Yankee Stadium.
On this occasion Frank McGrath and the Irish party met ‘Babe’ Ruth, the iconic American baseball player. It was at this event that Frank McGrath presented Babe Ruth with a hurley, and Ruth presented the baseball bat to McGrath.”
That baseball book is being sold by the McGrath family directly at the Auction, to be held at Mealy’s Auction House in late September. Outside of hurling, Frank McGrath also made a name for himself fighting for Irish independence in 1916.
“What’s quite interesting is its Tipperary’s third title in 1896, and in 1899. There are other medals as well and rare books. It’s quite a cross section of items,” said Mr Mealy.
Frank McGrath later returned to Ireland, even serving time in Belfast Jail for his involvement in the independence movement.
“He was on 1911 and 1912 teams, before they lost in 1913 to Kilkenny. They were going for three in a row, and he was on that team as well. He was a hotbed of republican and GAA activity,” added Mr Mealy.