HC Deb 15 March 1898 vol 54 c1657
MR. W. H. K. REDMOND (Clare, E.)

I beg to ask the hon. Member for the University of London (1) if he can state the circumstances under which some ancient Irish gold ornaments came into the possession of the British Museum; and (2) whether, in view of the strong feeling in Ireland that these things should be exhibited in Ireland, he will see if means can be taken to transfer them to the National Museum, Dublin?

SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)

In reply to the hon. Member's first Question, I am afraid I cannot add much to the answer given by the Secretary to the Treasury on the 1st inst. The gold objects in question were exhibited and described at the Society of Antiquaries, and some months subsequently were purchased by the trustees of the British Museum in the ordinary way. The second Question suggests an arrangement under which all Irish antiquities would be kept in Ireland, Scotch antiquities in Scotland, and English antiquities in England. Such a proposal would not be conducive to the progress of science; it would, I believe, be disapproved of by archæologists generally, and I hardly think would commend itself to my hon. Friend. At any rate, as the law now stands, the trustees are precluded from parting with any object purchased for or presented to and accepted by them, unless, indeed, they are duplicates or unfit to be preserved in the museum. The course suggested in the Question could, therefore, not be adopted unless, indeed, the House thought fit to alter the present law.