OLD match programmes are big business and if last Wednesday’s sale at Mealy’s Rare Books on Chatsworth Street, Castlecomer is anything to go by, many householders will be rummaging through their attics and cupboards over the coming days to find those old, hugely collectable “ephemera”.
These are every day things that were not supposed to become “antiques” but which have captured the public’s imagination. Ephemera derives from the Greek, meaning things lasting no more than a day.
The auction room in ‘Comer attracted buyers from all over the country with others on the phone bidding from Britain and the US. There were no “suits” at this auction but rather ,a band of soft spoken individuals not wishing to draw attention to themselves.
But when the official match programme from the 1940 All Ireland hurling final between Kilkenny and Limerick was annoounced they suddenly became very animated. It was expected to make around E500. In the end it went for E1,250 after fierce bidding under the guidance and cajoling of the inimitable Fonsie Mealy on the podium. Unfortunately the Cats lost that one with Limerick captained on the day by the legendary Mick Mackey.
The arrival of the official match programme from the 1933 All Ireland final between Kilkenny and Limerick at Croke Park also led to frantic bidding by a number of people present and by a “mobile” bidder. It had a reserve of around E500 but ended up going under Fonsie’s gavel for E1,200. It was Kilkenny’s 10th All Ireland hurling title on a scoreline of 1-7 to 0-6.
You would have thought that the programme from the famous 1939 “thunder and lightenting” final between Kilkenny and Cork would have made a lot of money but it went for only E500, probably because it was not in pristine condition. Kilkenny won that one, 3-3 to 2-7.
The programme for the 1932 All Ireland final between Kilkenny and Clare at Croke Park made E700 despite some wear and tear to the item. The final was attended by 34,372 (a new record) this was Clare’s first appearance in a final since 1914, however the Cats beat them by a goal, 3-3 to 2-3.
Mr Mealy was delighted with the sale and said that people collected ephemera because they are easy to store and are easily collectable. He said that a community had grown up around the ephemera phenomenon with people becoming friends and circles of people being formed who swapped programmes and other GAA memorabilia.
There were a number of other notables sold including a 1896 All-Ireland hurling medal. The 9 carat gold medal made €2,400.
And a programme from the 1978 Munster v New Zealand rugby game in Thomond Park made E12,300. That game was won by Munster, 12-0 and all the Munster players signed the programme at that time.
And the hurley used by Jack Lynch, Cork hurler and former Taoiseach, in the 1944 All-Ireland hurling final went for €750 and had a reserve of €500 on it.