THE relatives of a Kilkenny hurling legend are calling on Mealy Auctioneers, Castlecomer to withdraw his medals from auction to give the family an opportunity to negotiate their return.
The Anthony family from Owning and Piltown don’t believe that they should have to pay the huge figure (approximately E9,000) that Mealy’s have put as a guide price on the medals won by the mighty John (Jack) Anthony over a century ago.
They were surprised to read in the Kilkenny People that his medals from the county’s earliest All-Ireland victories were to be auctioned as they have, for many years, been unaware of their whereabouts.
When Fonzie Mealy of the auctioneering house was asked about Mr Anthony’s request, he said: “We have documentary proof of the reliable ownership of these medals.” At the time of going to print, the medals had not been withdrawn from auction.
Mr Mealy added that when the medals came in to him, the first thing he asked for was proof of ownership. “The medals came from a clocksmith in Waterford and when the medals were discovered there 25 or 30 years ago an advertisement was put in the paper asking that anybody with a claim on the medals come forward,” he explained.
The medals include All-Ireland medals from 1904, 1905 and 1907 as well as Leinster Championship, Railway Cup Medal and handball medals.
John’s nephew, Raymond Anthony, Owning remembers having the 1904 All-Ireland medal given by John to his father. Raymond Anthony returned the medal to John’s son Christy following the hurler’s death in 1964. “It was a small gold medal with the arms of Kilkenny city and two crossed hurls in on the front. The back of the medal was inscribed, ‘From Kilkenny citizens to John Anthony, All-Ireland Hurler 1904/05’,” Mr Anthony said.
He admitted that he no longer has any proprietary claim on the medals but he is aware that John’s sons and daughters would love to have them back.
He said his uncle maintained a life-long interest in hurling. In 1945, when Kilkenny were in the All-Ireland final, the first since 1940, Mr Anthony cycled from Kilkenny to Croke Park. World War II was still going on and due to rationing there were few cars and very little public transport, but John Anthony, who was 57 at the time, was determined to attend the match.
John Anthony was also immortalised in Carbery’s Annual, a popular GAA publication in the 1940s. A Commandant Dan Stapleton, who captained Kilkenny All-Ireland team in 1907, wrote an article describing the 1907 final which was played in Dungarvan, Co Waterford. The article said that Kilkenny and Cork were tied in the dying minutes of the games, when John Anthony got the winning score seconds before the final whistle.