A unique collection of War of Independence letters were sold at auction in Cork this week, despite calls for the collection to be kept in public ownership.

The Keyes McDonnell collection of family letters were one of the most complete sources of historical documentation relating to the War of Independence in the West Cork region.

Among the documents was a letter, written by a Cork lord mayor who died while on hunger strike in a British jail.

In advance of Tuesday’s auction Terence MacSwiney’s letter was sold for an undisclosed sum in Bandon, West Cork.

According to the Irish Examiner, he penned the letter while he was interred at Richmond Barracks after the 1916 Easter Rising. He wrote the letter to Keyes McDonnell family to thank them for their support.

A letter from Lord Asquith relating to the Easter Rising was sold to a Dublin buyer for €340.

The auction also featured various Republican memorabilia including a letter from Lady Beaverbrook relating to the Rising.

The Keyes McDonnell family, from Castlelack near Bandon, played a significant role in the Irish struggle for independence.

In the days leading up to the auction Mayor of Bandon Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) urged the State to buy the items, to ensure the collection remained in the public domain.

"These papers are a vital insight into the struggle for independence almost 100 years ago," she said.

"The story of the Keyes McDonnell family is recorded in the book There is a Bridge in Bandon — a unique record of that time.

"This documentation is a vital source of that history."

The Third Cork Brigade during Ireland's War of IndependenceGoogle images