The Armada Table, as it is known, is one of the best documented pieces of 16th century furniture in Ireland and carried an estimate of €100,000-200,000.
It sold to a telephone bidder at Dublin-based Adam's decorative arts sale held at Georgian stately home Townley Hall in Drogheda. Adam's confirmed to ATG that the table will stay in Ireland.
Starting with a €70,000 bid online, offers went up in increments of €5000 and €10,000, with early bidding on the internet, phone and in the room.
Gothic bookcase makes €75,000
At the same sale, an Irish George III mahogany breakfront bookcase, part of the original furnishings of Dublin's Ely House, made a multiple-estimate €75,000 (est: €15,000-20,000). The four-door bookcase, decorated with Gothic lancet glazing bars above fielded cupboard door base, stands at 9.25ft (282cm) high and 11.35ft (346cm) wide. It was once owned by Dr Thornley Stoker, brother of Bram, creator of Dracula.
Bunratty Castle home
Housed in Dromoland Castle for 300 years, the Armada Table last resided at Bunratty Castle in County Clare and at 2.4m in length and 91cm wide, had to be removed for auction by crane.
The table's owner, Lord Inchiquin of Dromoland Castle, said he was selling the table for financial reasons.
Desmond Fitzgerald (1937-2011), the Knight of Glin and authoritative Irish furniture historian, once described the Armada Table as “one of the most important and earliest pieces of Irish furniture”.
The table’s sale has attracted controversy as it was a key attraction at Bunratty and there were calls on Ireland’s Minister for the Arts to save the table for the nation.
The galleon, part of the Spanish Armada defeated by Elizabeth I’s forces in 1588, foundered like many others off the hazardous coastline of Doonbeg, Count Clare as it attempted to return to Spain.
Clare’s High Sheriff of the time, Boethius Clancy, rescued parts of the ship and its decorative carvings and had them made into a grand refectory table.
Made from a variety of timbers, including oak and tropical hardwoods including South American manilkara or bullet wood, the table has a rectangular top that sits above a frieze decorated with a dozen carved heads.
This section then rests on four carved heraldic lion corner supports and two central supports in the form of Hope and Charity, figures that would have originally been found on the stern of a galleon.
Some 27 Armada ships are thought to have foundered off the Irish coast and ship parts are still being salvaged to this day.
Elsewhere at Adam’s Country House Collections’ sale this morning, a gothic revival mahogany side table, in Thomas Chippendale style, 182cm long and 81cm wide with foliate design, made top estimate of €12,000 plus premium.