Local auctioneers have rescued a priceless piece Kilkenny’s hurling heritage.
Mealy’s auctioneers of Castlecomer, have saved Jack Anthony’s hurling medals from the smelters after they were contacted by a cash-for-gold operator who was about to melt the medals for gold. The cash-for-gold operators wanted to know if the medals had any value. Mealy’s were amazed to discover hurling medals from the first, second and third Kilkenny All-Ireland victories dating from 1904, 1905 and 1907.
There were also medals from the Leinster Hurling Championships, a Railway cup medal, and a silver handball medal along with a special civic medal.
The rare collection belonged to the Jack Anthony, who played when Kilkenny beat Cork 1-9 to 1-8 in Carrick-On-Suir to win Kilkenny’s first All-Ireland medal.
The medal is for the 1904 Championship but the final didn’t take place until June 24, 1906. Mr Anthony’s second All-Ireland gold medal came the following year for the 1905 championship. The 1905 championship was the first time Kilkenny wore black and amber as their county colours. The 1905 final against Cork was finally decided after a replay in Fraher field Dungarvan on June 15, 1907. Kilkenny soundly beat Cork 7-7 to 2-9.
Jack Anthony’s third gold All-Ireland medal came in another triumph over Cork: the 1907 final played in Fraher Field Dungarvan in front of 15,000 spectators. Kilkenny narrowly beat Cork 3-12 to 4-8, and Jack Anthony scored 0-3 to give Kilkenny the win. Mr Anthony would have earned a fourth All-Ireland medal against Tipperary but a dispute in his club prevented him from playing in the final.
Each of the All-Ireland gold medals features a Celtic Cross design with pierced centre and Celtic design surround with a central harp overlay. They are inscribed “Cumann na gCleas – Luith Gaedhealach” and “Eire” across the centre, the reverse of each inscribed “All Ireland Hurling Championship, won by Tullaroan (1904); Erin’s Own (1905) and Kilkenny (1907), and hallmarked H.&H. (Hopkins & Hopkins).
The two Leinster Hurling Championship gold medals dating from 1904 and 1905 are inscribed “Connradh Laighean GAA”. The most unusual is a gold medal surmounted by crossed hurls, with central Kilkenny Coat of Arms. The medal is inscribed “Ye faire Citie,” on the front and the reverse is inscribed “Kilkenny Citizens to Jack Anthony, All-Ireland Champion Hurler 1904 - 05, ‘07”.