Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers

The Old Cinema,
Chatsworth Street,
Co. Killkenny,
R95 XV05,

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Lot 471/0224

SOLD Hammer price: €5000, Estimate: €1000-1500

Lavery (Lady Hazel)
A moving series of three A.L.S. and a telegram to Gen. Eoin O’Duffy, July-August 1927, expressing her grief at the death of Kevin O’Higgins (shot dead by Republicans in early July).
The telegram, indistinctly dated July 1927, asks O’Duffy to bring the box of flowers she has sent him (with a letter) ‘to Mansion House and place near Kevin O’Higgins’.
The first letter, dated simply ‘Monday, is evidently that enclosed with the flowers. ‘I know you were near him at the last, and I think you will do me a great favour because he would wish you to. If you can, will you put one of these flowers somewhere near to him – even a tiny blossom, it would comfort me. He gave me this little brooch of white heather, and I would love to have him go on his journey with it from me. I am only asking you because I am so miserable and alone. I saw him all day on Thursday, and this morning I had a letter from him; written on Saturday. It is all such a cruel cruel thing – for us all and our Ireland
The second letter, dated July 27th, ’27, says ‘We are not going to Ireland as I have been rather ill, and when the time came I found I could not bear the idea of going there’, though she wanted to ask, ‘if you were able to put the white heather brooch anywhere near him – I know it seemed a strange thing to ask – but there was no one else I could trust and I thought you might just tuck it in quietly somewhere near his hand where no one would ever see. I have heard absolutely nothing – as I knew would be the case – no message, nothing – but some little things of mine which were in his ? have been sent back without a word. I understand, and it doesn’t matter nothing does now’.
The third letter, August 6th, ’27, repeats her thanks. Your help and swift understanding seemed to melt the ice around my heart. I’ve felt frozen in misery and utterly alone. I still feel that to someone, sometime during those hours of shadow, he must have spoken of me – said a word for me – some word I would have known and understood – but I realise the difficulty – there was no one he could tell near him except you perhaps, and you were not alone. I find myself looking for his letter every morning – for the past months he has written me practically every day – and then comes that sickening … of the cruel implacable truth – and the black emptiness of left engulfs me again ..’
The tone of these letters suggests strongly that O’Duffy was aware of Lady Lavery’s passionate affair with Kevin O’Higgins in the final months of his life, although it is not widely known at the time, or indeed until recently when Sinead McCoole published extracts from O’Higgins’ letters in her biography of Hazel Lavery. O’Higgins was of course a married man.
With the printed Senate Proceedings for 12-13 July 1927, ‘Assassination and Funeral of the Vice-President [Kevin O’Higgins],’ O’Duffy’s copies.
A poignant and moving collection.

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