Last tranche of Yeats family collection to be auctioned in Castlecomer

Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers have assembled a collection of remarkable personal artefacts

Sam Matthews


Sam Matthews



George Fonsie Mealy of Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers is pictured with an original fine ink portrait sketch by John B. Yeats, the first ever published portrait of William Butler Yeats issued in ‘Mosada'

A remarkable collection of artefacts from the Yeats family, many of which have never been seen before, are to go to auction in Castlecomer later this month.

Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers have assembled the collection, including paintings, letters and personal memorabilia, for what will be the last significant tranche of items to ever go to auction. Over 200 lots of items offer a unique insight into Irish literary and artistic history through the eyes of the Yeats family.

The items will be auctioned on November 14 in Fonsie Mealy’s Chatsworth Salerooms in Castlecomer. The Yeats Family Collection, the final chapter will be available to view in the lead up to the auction.  

Some of the notable items being offered include:

One of only two known signed and compiled sketchbooks to exist from WB Yeats time in Art College in Dublin (1884-85); a monogrammed briefcase belonging to WB Yeats, which he subsequently gifted to his son Michael.

A rare and unobtainable original fine ink sketch by John B. Yeats, reproduced in William B Yeats’ first separate publication, ‘Mosada’. The superb drawing is characteristic of JB Yeats at his very best, bringing out his twenty-year-old son’s vulnerability as well as his determination.

“Fonsie Mealy has a longstanding relationship with the Yeats family," says George Fonsie JR of Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers.

"To be charged with looking after this collection that is of huge importance to Irish history and culture is an honour. We expect some of the items, many of which have never been seen before, to generate a lot of interest."

Other significant items of memorabilia include:

A poignant photograph of Maud Gonne, from W.B’s collection; RDS badges belonging to W.B and his wife Georgina; A pair of WB’s optical glasses; Dozens of portrait drawings from W.B. Yeats, completed in a style similar to that of his father, JB Yeats; Miscellaneous items; art college studies, a poem (thought to be unpublished), a draft telegram, a list of names and other jottings are to be included.

Personal effects from the women of the Yeats family also feature strongly:

A set of Tarot cards designed by Pamela Colman Smith, thought to belong to Georgina, wife of WB Yeats; A group of watercolour flower studies by Elizabeth Pollexfen, WB Yeats grandmother; Two fine embroidered panels by W.B.’s sister Lily Yeats; Watercolours by Elizabeth Corbet Yeats (‘Lolly’); Watercolour landscape by W.B Yeats mother Susan Pollexfen (later Mrs. J.B. Yeats); Attractive drawings by Jack’s wife Cottie, whose work is rare. 

Items with great appeal for collectors include: A carved block of green Connemara marble, engraved with Jack Yeats’ monogram thought to be a memento of a visit to Lady Gregory at Coole; Japanese coloured woodcuts from Jack’s collection; A large cardboard  sheet on which Jack Yeats has listed the contents of a seven-drawer chest,  including his paintings, watercolours, sketchbooks and so on. 

Household items and furniture that graced the houses of the Yeats families such as Georgian furniture, family silver, bureau bookcase, grandfather clock, and musical instruments including the family harp are also part of the assembly.

The Yeats Family Collection – The Final Chapter will be available for viewing in Fonsie Mealy’s Chatsworth Salerooms, Castlecomer,  Kilkenny. The collection will go to auction on November 14th. The general public can view the collection from Saturday 11  up until  Monday 13, from 12.20pm to 5pm. To view the online catalogue visit