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On the whole, it is private buyers who flock to these quarterly fine Irish picture sales and they reserved the best of their money for this William Conor RHA RUA (1881-1968) wax crayon on paper work, right, entitled The Mill Girls.

Conor is synonymous with depictions of early 20th century working class life in Belfast and this signed 20 x 14in (51 x 36cm) image had everything Conor buyers would look for in his work.

Sourced privately from the Belfast widow of a gentleman who had bought the picture direct from Conor, The Mill Girls bore an estimate of
£17,500-20,000 and was knocked down to a Northern Irish private buyer at £22,000.

This success was followed up by Dan O’Neil’s (1920-1974) The Bath – a 20 by 16in (51 x 41cm) signed oil on board estimated at £22,000-25,000.

“It wasn’t the best example of O’Neil’s work I’ve seen and I think that was reflected in the price,” said Mr Clarke. The picture fell to a private buyer with a bid of £17,500.

Other notable prices were the £8700 taken for Fair Day by Jack Butler Yeats RHA (1871-1957) and Tom Carr’s (1909-1999) Coming to shore, Ballymoran, Strangford which brought £7200.