Kerry Museum Buys Roger Casement ‘Buried Treasure’ Map For £7,000

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Chorley Casement drawing

The map of Roger Casement treasure and note bought for £7,000 at the auction.

THE Kerry Museum has purchased at auction a map drawn by Sir Roger Casement showing where he reputedly buried gold and silver coins and other items near Banna Strand before he was arrested on Good Friday in 1916.

A successful bid of £7,000 (stg) – supported by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht – secured the map and an accompanying note when it was auctioned by Chorley’s of Cheltenham earlier this week.

The items will now be put on display at the Kerry Museum and will form an integral part of its ‘Casement in Kerry’ exhibition which is being opened by President Michael D Higgins on 21 April.

The sketch map and note were drawn up by Casement while he was in custody at Scotland Yard.

The ‘Plan of Rath’ suggests that £50 ‘in gold and silver’ along with a lamp and pair of binoculars were buried ‘under some fern bracken and bramble’ in a fairy fort close to Currahane Moat near Ardfert.

“The map drawn by Casement solves a 100 year old mystery,” said Helen O’Carroll, Curator of the Kerry Museum. “Casement hid £50 in gold and silver coins, as well as binoculars and a lamp. He drew the map while he was in custody and gave it to his interrogators so that they would send someone to find the money, which he badly needed at that stage. The map has never been seen since,” she said.

“After a few days he was told that police had been sent back to the fort to search for the money but that it hadn’t been found. After his execution his solicitor, Gavan Duffy, brought it up again with Scotland Yard and in February 1917 a police search party made another effort and a report was sent back to say that they had found nothing,” said Helen.

“The map and its accompanying note are a significant addition to the general museum collection, not just for this year or the forthcoming ‘Casement in Kerry’ exhibition but long into the future.”

“The fact they haven’t seen the light of day for 100 years will generate great excitement when they are put on display here for the first time. I believe that we have acquired two outstanding documents that will add substantially to our knowledge of the period and will be an enhancement of the accumulated cultural heritage of Ireland. From an educational perspective these documents have a multiplicity of uses and will be used in our education programmes long after 2016 has passed,” she said.

“Before the auction I spoke to colleagues in the National Museum and the National Library who encouraged me to make a bid for them. We all felt that the documents should be in a public collection in Ireland and that they would be most appropriate here in Kerry where both their national and local significance would be fully realised. I am grateful to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for their financial support in helping to acquire these items ,” Helen added.

The significance of the map is that it comes with a note written by Frank Hall at the time in 1916. Hall was in MI5G (later MI5) and he was one of Casement’s interrogators.

He regarded Casement not just as a traitor and an Irish rebel because of his connection with Germany, but, as an Ulster Protestant from a similar background, he despised him as a class traitor.

His note proves that not only did the British secret service know where the money was, but that it had been given to the RIC men who had arrested him, and the binoculars went to the head of Scotland Yard, Basil Thomson.

They had found it but had consistently lied about it to Casement and to Gavan Duffy. As such, the document provides an insight into the British security establishment’s attitude to Casement and how keen they were to appropriate his property as trophies.

Aside from the famous diaries, a number of other items that Casement owned were kept as trophies of war by various members of the establishment including the King.

From a Kerry point of view, it has great significance because, as no-one knew what had happened to the money, it was assumed for the last 100 years that it had been stolen by local people.

That assumption fed into the general perception that Casement had been abandoned and betrayed in Kerry. The map and accompanying note prove otherwise.

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