Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Thursday, 26 May 2005 13:47 UK

Pearse letter sold for 500,000

Patrick Pearse wrote letter of surrender in 1916
Patrick Pearse wrote letter of surrender in 1916

A letter of surrender signed by Irish rebel Padraig Pearse at the end of the 1916 uprising has sold for almost 500,000 at a Dublin auction.

The letter was written by Pearse from his prison cell on 30 April, 1916, days before his execution by firing squad after the failed Easter Rising.

It had been anticipated it would sell for about 55,000 by auctioneers James Adam and Sons.

The new owner of the letter has not been revealed.

The letter had been stored by an anonymous family for the past 80 years after a Capuchin priest, Father Columbus, collected it from Pearse's cell in Dublin's Arbour Hill Prison.

Several state organisations had viewed the letter and it had attracted interest from overseas, including American collectors, when it was displayed in a Bond Street auction room in London and in Belfast over the past few weeks.

Anonymous bidder

A spokesman for the auctioneers said: "There was huge interest and it exceeded its guide price incredibly. It finally went to an anonymous bidder."

The letter reads: "In order to prevent further slaughter of the civil population and in the hope of saving the lives of our followers, the members of the Provisional Government present at headquarters have decided on an unconditional surrender, and commandants or officers commanding districts will order their commands to lay down arms. P.H. Pearse. Dublin 30th April 1916."

Pearse was later executed with 14 other rebels captured in the battle to overthrow British rule in Ireland.

Fr Columbus brought the hand-written note to rebel forces in the Four Courts who had refused to give up the fight.

On reading the letter, Captain Gary Holohan, who was in charge of the Four Courts command, eased hostilities and surrendered.

An original copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic was recently sold for 270,000 at the same salesrooms in Dublin's St Stephen's Green.

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