A NOTICE issued by the IRA during the War of Independence in 1920, calling for a public boycott of Pepper’s grocery shop in Tulla, will go up for auction this Saturday.
The notice, issued by “Oglaigh na hEireann – West Clare Brigade IRA” and handwritten on a sheet of the shop’s own headed notepaper, has a pre-sale estimate of €300 to €400.
Newcastle West antiques auctioneer Pat O’Donovan, who puts the document under the hammer, described the notice, which has come to light after 96 years, “as very rare”.
Also a noted local historian, Mr O’Donovan explained that such notices were very rare because “most businesses supplying the British army in Clare heeded verbal warnings and so, presumably, the IRA didn’t need to issue written boycott notices”.
The shop, owned by John Pepper and his family, was a general merchant shop that also sold tea, wine and spirits, ran a posting establishment and also operated flour, meal and bran stores.
Mr Pepper died in 1909 and his daughter, Mary, continued the business. The shop used to supply the Workhouse, located about a mile outside the town, and the IRA notice warned the shop to cease to “import and distribute goods for crown forces”, which the IRA considered to be “an act of war”. The public was told to boycott the shop unless the owners complied by April 20, 1920. Both the shop and its customers were threatened with “appropriate action” if they did not comply.
The document was stamped by the IRA with a logo of a harp and shamrock and the words “Erin go Brath”.
Mr O’Donovan said the boycott appeared to have worked because the shop closed down soon afterwards. He said the shop later became the subject of a bitter legal dispute over Ms Pepper’s last will and testament.
Mr O’Donovan said the document has survived in excellent condition because it had been in safe storage for many years.