After William Cuming – late 18th early 19th century Irish School – Half length portrait of Rev. John Kearney. UPDATE: THIS FAILED TO SELL at auction and was sold the following day for 1,750 to a private Irish collector.
An early 19th century Irish School portrait of a member of the Kearney family – President Obama’s direct Irish ancestors – comes up as lot 621 at Fonsie Mealy’s auction in Castlecomer on February 25. The half length portrait of the Rev John Kearney, Provost of TCD and Bishop of Ossory, is in its original gilt frame and is estimated at 1,750-2,500. Born of relatively humble origins in Dublin in 1741, John Kearney entered TCD at the age of 15 and was appointed Provost in 1799. He was a founder of the Royal Irish Academy in 1785. One of his daughters, Rose,married Hervey Pratt. He inherited Castle Morres in 1831 on the death of his mother, a sister of the 2nd Viscount Mountmorres, and changed his name to de Montmorency.
At the same sale there is a set of early George II forks, property of Dean Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) (2,000-3,000) and engraved JS on each green ivory handle. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR 3,800 AT HAMMER.
President Barack Obama’s roots in Ireland go back to 1850, when Falmouth Kearney, the 19-year-old son of a local shoemaker, left Moneygall in Co. Offaly to begin a new life in the United States. The Kearney family probably originated in Tipperary before settling in County Offaly in the Irish midlands, then known as King’s County, in the 1700s. One branch of the family moved to Dublin and entered the very profitable business of making wigs. By helping out with the wig-making business, the midlands relatives were able to buy property rights in Moneygall and Shinrone around 1800. By the time wigs fell out of fashion, the Dublin Kearneys had moved into more established professions. John Kearney’s father was a barber surgeon.
UPDATE: The painting was sold to a private collector in Ireland on the day after the auction for 1,750.
(See post on antiquesandartireland.com for February 17, 2015 for a note on the de Montmorency’s).