Gold eagles and a glass Sam Maguire: Contents of Barney Curley’s Westmeath mansion to go on sale

The entire contents of an iconic country mansion once raffled by legendary gambler Barney Curley, are going under the hammer.

Almost 800 lots from mid-19th century Middleton Park House in Co Westmeath, worth an estimated €200,000, can be viewed by the public

before going up for grabs this Wednesday and Thursday. (Mar 20&21)

The clearout, catalogued by antiques dealer Niall Mullen, comes just six months after the separate sale of the 35,000 sq ft palatial home.

The imposing residence in Castletown-Geoghegan shot to prominence in the mid-1980s when its then owner – trainer and professional gambler Curley – raffled it.

He sold almost 9,000 tickets, costing £200 each – but was later handed a jail term for promoting an illegal lottery – a sentence overturned on appeal.

Curley, who died in 2021, is thought to have bought the home with the proceeds of the famous ‘Yellow Sam’ betting coup in 1975.

Netting him £300,000 (around €1.7million today), it was masterminded by instructing an army of punters around Ireland to bet on the horse and

hogging the only public ‘phone at Meath’s Bellewstown racecourse.

It meant on-course bookies could not be alerted about the huge sums piling on the horse – and therefore could not drop the 20/1 starting price. 

“The house has been tastefully decorated in a quirky, oversized style,” said Mullen.

“Almost all of the items are oversized, this was to fill out the house as it is such a big space that normal furniture would look odd and out of place.

“For example, a chair with a big golden eagle on top of it, is 2.4 metres high. 

“Many of the contents appearing at this auction would fit perfectly in a hotel or suit someone with a large country home.”

The Regency-style property also played host to a series of celebrities in the 1930s and 40s, including legendary American actress, Rita Hayworth.

Contents include one of five glass replicas of Gaelic football’s biggest prize, the Sam Maguire Cup, one of which was presented to former US President, Bill Clinton. 

Unused Waterford Crystal glassware, Irish art, decorative art, vernacular furniture and garden furniture also feature.

“The concept behind this auction is twofold,” added  Mullen.

“I was approached by the previous owners of Middleton Park to assist in the disposal of the contents.

“Secondly, I had a desire to hold the event in Oldcastle, Co Meath, in memory of my father, the legendary auctioneer Michael Mullen, regarded as the greatest character to ever hold the gavel.”

Michael conducted auctions in Oldcastle from 1960 through to September 2013, his final one taking place shortly before his death.

The no-reserve auction of the contents, in partnership with Aidan Foley Auctions, takes place in person and online at on March 20 and 21 from 5pm each day, at the restored Castle Cinema in Oldcastle.

Viewing, at the same venue, is open to the public on St Patrick’s Day (12-6pm) and Monday and Tuesday (10am-5pm).

Visit for more details.

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