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Sligo’s Sinn Féin mayor, Sean MacManus, expressed “extreme disappointment” that the Irish state had allowed the family home of Constance Gore-Booth, one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, to be privately bought by the high-flying Dublin lawyers Edward Walsh and Constance Cassidy.

A number of pictures that had been
intimately associated with the distinguished family history of this celebrated house were included in the sale, the most important being this 5ft x 3ft 51/2in (1.52 x 1.05m) Sarah Henrietta Purser (1848-1943) double portrait of the young Constance Gore-Booth (shown standing) with her sister
Eva Gore-Booth, who was also a prominent activist for the Republican cause.

The poet W.B. Yeats was a frequent visitor to the house and he immortalised the two sisters with the famous lines:

The light of evening, Lissadell,
Great windows open to the south,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle...

Lissadell’s new owners were
understandably keen to keep the painting in the house and, as their all-too-conspicuous bidding at the auction soared beyond the €30,000-50,000 estimate, most people in the room were willing them to keep the house and portrait together.

Sadly, at least from their point of view, they were finally pipped by a private telephone bid of €200,000 (£139,860), a sale-topping result which was greeted with a chorus of boos. The price was claimed as a record for the artist.
Exchange rate: £1 = €1.43