Barrow and Spade

Spade, ceremonial, used to turn the sod on the West Clare Railway by Charles Stewart Parnell, 26 January, 1885.


Spade, silver ceremonial, heavily engraved, wooden handle, 1885.’Presented by William F Murphy/To/Charles Stewart Parnell ESQ MP/on the occasion of his turning the first sod/OF THE WEST CLARE RAILWAY/The 26th Day of January, 1885/James F Lombard, Chairman of the Company/William Barrington, M.I.C.E. Engineer/William M Murphy, C.E. Contractor/ERIN GO BRAG.

This ceremonial spade and barrow appears briefly in a piece of film in the online RTE archive on the occasion of the opening of the de Valera Museum in the Library in 1975.

In a letter to Michael Flanagan, County Librarian, on 4th June 1974, from P Henchy, Director, National Library of Ireland, Mr Henchy stated that ‘the man who presented the inscribed shovel you mention – and other items – to the nation was Captain A J P Mateer. He was the stepson of John Howard Parnell and lived in Ballybrack, County Dublin in the 1960s (1963).’ Some of the Parnell items were to go to Kilmainham and others to Ennis. Presumably the Shovel was earmarked for Clare.

In an earlier letter to D O’Keeffe, Clare County Manager, by Frank Gibney, dated 3rd July 1946, it was stated that the spade and barrow were in the possession of Mr John Howard Parnell, and Gibney mentions that the barrow is made of Irish oak, Irish silver and that it was used to move away the first sod from site of the West Clare Railway by Parnell.

Collection: De Valera Museum

Category: Ceremonial equipment

2000.0088 (7040)