Consumer Public Relations
September 27, 2019

Cavan’s Victor Mee Auctions has announced one of its most unique sales yet, The Palace Collection Sale, which will see the complete contents of Letterkenny’s Oak Park House, formerly the residence of suffragette Norah Lyle-Smyth, hit the auction block. The collection of exquisite furniture, decorative art and garden pieces has been combined with outstanding pieces from The former See House or ‘Bishop’s Palace’ in Kilmore Co. Cavan, where the auction will take place.

Steeped in a rich history thanks to its custodians and location, Oak Park House was built in the 1800s and overlooks Lough Swilly, the scene of the defeat of Irish Chieftain Shane O’Neill by Hugh O’Donnell. In more recent times, the house was the Irish home of photographer, social activist and suffragette Norah Lyle-Smyth.

Smyth spent much of her early life in England focusing on her studies and village life at the request of her father, however after his death In 1912 Smyth joined the Pioneer Players feminist Theatre Company and the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), which led her to join the East London Federation Suffragettes, run by prominent suffragette activist Sylvia Pankhurst. A loyal supporter of Pankhurst, Smyth spent many years moving within the same circles and became a close friend of Pankhurst until her death.

The vast contents of The Palace Collection Sale are believed to include pieces which belonged to Norah Lyle-Smyth dating back to the early 20th century’s suffragette movement and will be on offer to bidders at The See House on 30th September.

The ‘Bishop’s Palace’ is located 5.6km south west of Cavan town and was built between 1835 and 1837 in the Grecian Revival style by Bishop George Beresford, with the design attributed to Dublin-based architect William Ferrell. The See House was lived in and enjoyed by several Irish Bishops and their families until 2000, when ownership transferred to a private owner. Since then, the house has been untouched and is sure to be a memorable location for the upcoming auction.

Commenting on the rich history linked to the sale Victor Mee said, “We are very excited about The Palace Collection Sale on Monday 30th September at ‘The Bishop’s Palace’. Having the opportunity to host the auction directly from The See House where many of the contents have been in place for some years makes the sale even more special and will give bidders a brilliant feel for how the furniture, art and garden pieces will look in their homes as well as painting a richer picture about the history and context of these pieces.”

Winter Warmers & Lighting

The Palace Collection Sale will offer bidders several exquisite pieces of lighting to add warmth and atmosphere to any home. Items of interest will include a high-quality brass and glass circular hall lantern, in the Regency manner, as well as two eighteen branch Irish crystal chandeliers, bursting with class.

In addition, those who prefer the authenticity and wintery glow of a real fire will not be disappointed as the sale will also showcase several 19th century Irish Georgian pieces that can be added to a traditional or contemporary home. Bidders can expect lots including an Irish Georgian pierced and etched brass fire fender mounted with fire iron holders, accompanied by a series of ‘fire keeping’ essentials including an Irish spiral mahogany brass-bound estate sized peat bucket with brass liner and a 19th century brass coal box with shovel in the Adams style.

Commenting on the diverse range of lighting and traditional home heating pieces, Bryan Mee said, “Its unique to see such a wide range of lighting and fireplace accessories in one sale. Both Oak Park House and ‘The Bishop’s Palace’ are very traditional properties and having the opportunity to sell the contents of these houses has given us the chance to offer bidders an array of unique winter warming elements – just ahead of the cooler months – and statement lighting which will serve as a focal piece for any room.”



Furniture from across the ages

With Oak Park House and ‘The Bishop’s Palace’ dating back to the 1800s and during this time homing a very diverse range of people from suffragettes to Irish bishops, the range of furniture that will be displayed in The Palace Collection Sale is second to none, with many pieces of Royal standard and reflecting the Georgian era.

A standout lot taken from ‘The Bishop’s Palace’, thought to have been commissioned for Bishop George Beresford, is a 19th century painted mahogany specimen cabinet on a stand with six astragal glazed doors. This was once used for displaying specimens of porcelain but would now act perfectly as a sought-after kitchen cabinet.

The Palace Collection will also showcase a fine range of rugs and carpets including Persian pieces dating back to the 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition, The Victor Mee team will also auction an exceptional 19th century Donegal Carpet by Morton Sundour decorated with the shields of the four Providences of Ireland, oak leaves and medallions, which is sure to be a firm favourite amongst Irish bidders.

Belonging to Oak Park House and having possibly resided there since it was constructed in the mid-1800s is a rare William IV mahogany wine table featuring slate top decorated with exotic birds and raised on a barley twist column with four out-swept legs. The table has been stamped by William & Gibton and is also believed to be an original from the Georgian era.

Given the royal seal of approval is a rare Irish 19th century Killarney wood flip-top table originally from the collection of Major Sir Ralph Hugo Anstruther, Treasurer Emeritus to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Commenting on the Killarney lot, auctioneer Victor Mee said, “This table may not be the finest example of Killarney woodwork but what it lacks in intricacy it more than makes up for in providence. Pieces from private collections like this rarely hit the market and we expect significant interest in it.”


Unique Decorative Art & Literature Spanning 17th to 19th Centuries

In contrast to the traditional Irish properties themselves, the team at Victor Mee Auctions have recovered a series of oriental decorative items which appear to have been collected throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.

The range of decorative Chinese pieces include an extremely rare 18th century ceramic onion vase decorated with the raised form of a dragon, as well as pair of 19th century ebonised and gilt bust stands raised on claw feet, in the Oriental style and a bronze figure of Buddha. These exceptional pieces are sure to add character to any contemporary home.

A stunning range of 17th to 20th century art will appear in the upcoming auction, adding further style and character to both traditional and contemporary homes. Work contained within the sale comes from artists including Ralph Peacock and Arthur Wilkinson, as well as well renowned local Cavan artist Percy French. Also included in The Palace Collection Sale is an extraordinary collection of approximately 2,000 books dating back to the 18th century, including rare bibles, historical and botanical volumes, novels and autobiographies.

“We are very excited about the huge literature collection available to bidders in our upcoming sale. Each house has had many custodians, so we expect the range of literature to be fantastic. In addition, the decorative pieces that will be showcased range from various eras, countries and continents and we are sure bidders will find many pieces of interest,” said Bryan Mee.

Grand Garden Interiors

Garden furniture and interiors are quickly becoming another area of expertise for the team at Victor Mee Auctions and tend to now feature in most of their interiors sales. The Palace Collections Sale is no different and will showcase a superb range of garden pieces taken from both Oak Park House and The See House, many of which are expected to take pride of place in homes across Ireland and further afield.

Key items within the sale include a 19th century lead fountain, limestone jardinière and sandstone sundial. Adorning the main entrance steps of The See House for many years, a pair of composition sphynx will also be on offer to interested bidders.

“They may have embellished grand country houses for many years, but these stunning garden pieces would now grace any home adding a small piece of history as a focal point or a conversation piece,” commented Victor Mee.

Reflecting on The Palace Collection Sale as a whole, Victor Mee continued, “These country homes, unless owned by the State or the National Trust, are rarely open to the public, let alone the contents be sent to public auction! This is an extremely rare opportunity for private collectors to own pieces of history and this sale promises to be one not to be missed!”

For more information on the upcoming 30th September The Palace Collection Sale hosted Victor Mee Auctions at ‘The Bishop’s Palace’, County Cavan, visit