Tom was born in the U.S.A. in 1926. His father Thomas Sr. came from County Mayo and married an American. Thomas Jr. married Joann, whose family hailed from Dingle, County Kerry. The family lived at 950 Hill Road in Winnetka, a northern suburb of Chicago, Illinois.
Although Tom had a very active and successful life as the head of the family business and continued his family’s tradition of active participation in civic affairs, his interest in, and collection of, works of art was his private joy, one which he cultivated intensely throughout his life. Over a period of some thirty years, Tom amassed a huge collection of medieval and later works of art, which subsequently became known as the Flannery Collection.
Unlike others who sat on their hoards, his treasures were not kept for his sole enjoyment but were willingly shared with all serious students of works of art, so that gradually a slow but steady stream of scholarly visitors found its way to Chicago and to Tom Flannery and his collection.
Following the wishes of her husband, Joann Flannery assumed the stewardship of the collection after his death in 1980 and, as Tom Flannery had desired, arranged for its sale so that his works of art, like those once owned by the great collectors who had been his models, could continue to pass from collector to collector for yet a while before they too would enter some public collection where they would remain.
The Flannery Collection was auctioned by Sotheby’s in London on 1st / 2nd December 1983. It included Renaissance jewellery, Gothic ivories, wood-carvings, Limoges enamels and metal work, ecclesiastical vessels and important sculptures. It was divided up into a total of 435 lots and sold for approximately £2 million pounds sterling.
[his portrait is illustrated above; courtesy of Sotheby's]