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Enda Dowling
Independent.ie
12 July 2013

Buttons found on Michael Collins on the day he died.

BRASS buttons found in Michael Collins’s pocket on the day he died are to be sold at auction among a collection of Irish-themed curiosities.

The buttons, which are expected to fetch between €1,500 and €2,000, come with a signed note to General Eoin O’Duffy from Michael Collins’s sister, Margaret Collins Powell.

The note reads: “Please send me a receipt for the enclosed, found in Michael’s tunic pocket, August 22, 1922.”

This was the day of the assassination of Collins in Beal na Blath, Co Cork.

It comes as part of a large collection of items which belonged to the former IRA Chief of Staff O’Duffy, including the last truce that O’Duffy negotiated with the Anti-Treaty side in 1922 and other personal items. However, all of O’Duffy’s belongings in the collection nearly found their way to the dump, as the current owner of his estate lives in Norway and didn’t originally realise their significance.

The auction, entitled ‘A Gathering of Things Irish Sale’ is on July 23 at the Clyde Court Hotel, Ballsbridge at 10.30am.

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Daily Mail
4 December 2012

**More photos onsite

Hours before death: This newly-uncovered image is the last one taken of IRA leader Michael Collins (in the back of the car, left) before he was shot dead

A photo of Michael Collins, taken just hours before his assassination rocked the country, has turned up after more than 90 years.

Killed in an ambush later that evening, Collins is seen in the back of a touring car outside a hotel in Bandon, Co. Cork.

The remarkable photograph taken on August 22, 1922 by 18-year-old Agnes Hurley, has only come to light after being discovered in the attic of a Dublin house.

Until now, the last photograph of ‘The Big Fellow’, as IRA leader Collins was known, had been assumed to be one taken in Bandon the day before, on August 21.

Hurley also captured the scene of the shoot-out near Béal na Bláth the next day, showing a scrap of cloth on the ground believed to be Collins’s shirt collar.

Until now, historians assumed no photo of the scene was taken.

Agnes ‘Aggie’ Hurley, from Mallowgaton in Bandon, used a brownie box camera and her remarkable collection of hundreds of photos spans 20 years dating from 1921.

Her niece Mim O’Donovan, also from Bandon, brought the pictures to the Revolutionary Decade Roadshow in Clonakilty, Co. Cork, organised by the History Department at University College Cork on Saturday.

‘Aggie went to Béal na Bláth to see what had happened because they’d heard gunshots the previous day,’ she said.

‘She was well informed of current affairs and if something was happening she would be there. She took hundreds of photographs over the years and she dated the back of every single one.’

Béal na Bláth the day after the death of Michael Collins. The scrap of cloth (centre right) is believed to be the blood-stained collar from Collins’ shirt

Cork City and County Archivist Brian Magee described the find as ‘extraordinary’. ‘The fact that it survived is remarkable,’ he added.

Collins is an influential figure in the history of twentieth century Ireland. He was born in Clonakilty, County Cork, and, after working in a number of roles in London, returned to Ireland to take part in the Easter Uprising.

He was elected as an MP for Sinn Fein for South Cork and Tyrone at the general election in December 1918.

During the Anglo-Irish war he was a key part of the IRA’s military campaign.

After the controversial treaty negotiations with Britain, he was appointed Chairman and Minister of Finance of the provisional government which was responsible for the establishment of the Irish Free State. He played a decisive role in devising a constitution, creating security forces and appointing a civil service.

He was murdered while on an inspection tour of Munster and searching for a basis for peace with IRA leaders opposed to the Treaty.

The photos will be scanned and archived to form part of the public record of a crucial period in Irish history.

Irish Times
16 June 2012

Jonathan Swift’s letters at Sotheby’s

SOTHEBY’S IS to auction “important and extremely rare” Irish historical papers in London next month. Three volumes of original letters relating to the government of Ireland in the 18th century are estimated to make between £80,000 and £120,000 (€100,000-€150,000).

Many of the letters were written to Lionel Cranfield Sackville – the first duke of Dorset and lord lieutenant of Ireland – and shed light on the difficulties encountered by the British administration trying to govern the country.

Topics include: the emergence of Henry Grattan’s Irish Patriot Party; support in Ireland for the American Revolution; the lawlessness of Tipperary where “even the common operations of justice cannot be carried into execution”; and less weighty matters such as the complaint, by an archbishop, about the dreadful wine served in Dublin Castle.

Seven letters written by Jonathan Swift between 1732 and 1736, while he was dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, are estimated at £40,000-£60,000 (€50,000-€70,000).

The papers of Sen James Douglas, including letters by Michael Collins relating to the drafting of the constitution of the Irish Free State and the proposed Divorce Bill of 1925, are estimated at £25,000-£35,000 (€30,000-€40,000). Douglas (1887-1954) was a Co Tyrone-born Quaker and businessman best-known for managing the Irish White Cross, a charity established during the War of Independence to distribute funds raised for “relief in Ireland” by sympathisers in the US. He was appointed by Michael Collins to draft the Irish Free State’s constitution and served a number of terms in Seanad Éireann.

The documents will go on view in Dublin on June 28th at Sotheby’s, 16 Molesworth Street, from 10.30am-4.30pm. The auction will take place in London on July 10th

Independent.ie
20 May 2012

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny will deliver the Beal na mBlath oration to mark the 90th anniversary of the death of Michael Collins.

The oration will take place on August 19 at the spot where the Free State general and former IRA commander was shot and killed as he returned to Cork city following a Civil War inspection tour of his native west Cork in 1922.

Mr Kenny delivered the oration six years ago — but will return given the high-profile nature of the 90th anniversary ceremonies.

Sunday Independent
6 May 2012

**Sad to see something like this close. If it were mine, I would try to find a way to continue it somehow. :/

• See also: ‘Mysterious French lady’ speaks of devotion to Collins’ memory

FOR the past 12 years, sisters Mary and Terry Hewitt have arranged monthly floral bouquets for the grave of Michael Collins in Glasnevin Cemetery.

And it is the only order they will continue to fulfil after they close the doors for good today on their Rosary Florists at Prospect Avenue in Glasnevin, which opened 43 years ago.

The monthly bouquet comes from a French admirer of the assassinated IRA leader.

Not many Dublin businesses can claim to have clients such as US President John F Kennedy; movie stars Grace Kelly, Boris Karloff and Roger Moore; Pope John Paul II; former President Mary McAleese; and even supermodel Naomi Campbell, all of whom ordered flowers from the shop.

“It’s been a business that’s been very good to us over the years. We have been so lucky as to the people we have been given the opportunity to arrange flowers for, whether they are famous or just like the rest of us,” said Mary.

But it is Veronique Crombe — a lecturer and guide at the French National Museum who orders the monthly arrangements from Paris — who will remain their sole customer.

“She struck a chord with us. Over the years we have built up a great friendship with her. She took the trouble to ask us to look after the flowers for the grave for so long and we owe it to her to continue what she does,” said Mary, who learned her trade at well-known florists, Marie James on Dublin’s Dawson Street.

The sisters have made many loyal customers over the years. “Our parents were not in the business but growing up I always had an interest in flowers and Terry, who is a couple of years younger than me, followed me into the business.

“We received a lot of thank-you notes and we’ve kept many of them. We even received a note of thanks from the late Pope John Paul II. Our customers have always been very good to us. It gave me a real buzz working with flowers and to see the power they can have in so many different situations and the meanings behind them.

The sisters use to buy their flowers from markets dotted around the city and from supplier Noel Dunne. More recently they imported them from Holland.

It is not clear yet what will happen to the shop but yesterday people were buying vases that were up to 70 years old that the sisters collected over the decades as keepsakes to remind them of the shop.

RTÉ
19 Apr 2012

Michael Collins was assassinated in 1922

A cotton swab, used to clean Michael Collins’ face following his death, has been withdrawn from a planned auction next week.

A cotton swab, used to clean Michael Collins’ face following his death, has been withdrawn from a planned auction next week.

The move followed a growing controversy about the planned sale, which was branded “appalling” by descendants of Michael Collins.

In a statement, the owners of the swab say they tried unsuccessfully over the past seven years to find an appropriate repository for it and other items that have been in the possession of their family for around 90 years.

The statement was issued to RTÉ News this lunchtime by auctioneers Mealy’s Rare Books Ltd on behalf of their client.

As part of this process, the sellers say they approached the National Museum, other national institutions, experts and a number of individuals.

The vendor claims the institutions concerned refused to accept the items.

As a result, they say, they sought expert advice on insurance values and how best to secure the various items into the future.

The owners state that other than themselves, no third party has any right title and/or interest in the items and in particular the swab.

But they say that given the nature of current interest in these items and the swab in particular, they have decided to withdraw the swab from sale at this time.

They add that the swab will not to be gifted to any of the institutions formerly approached.

Former Fine Gael Minister for Justice Nora Owen, a grandniece of Michael Collins, said she was very pleased that the swab had been withdrawn from sale.

She said she hoped the decision would not allow the item to come back into the market place again, as it is not a suitable item for sale.

BBC
17 Apr 2012

**See: Lock of Michael Collins’ hair removed from auction

Michael Collins was shot dead in an ambush in 1922

A grandniece of Irish leader Michael Collins has said she is appalled at plans to auction a lock of his hair and a cotton swab used to clean his corpse.

Former Irish MEP Mary Banotti was speaking on RTE radio’s Morning Ireland programme on Tuesday.

She said selling the lock and, more particularly, selling the swab showed disrespect and insensitivity.

“I have spoken to several members of the family and they are universally upset,” she said.

Ms Banotti said the proper place for the items was either in Glasnevin cemetery in Collins’ grave or in a museum.

“I’m fully aware that taking locks of hair was part of the culture for many years, but not selling it for a huge price in an auction, that’s really where I feel it shows a certain amount of disrespect and insensitivity.

“Whoever’s selling the swab, I think that’s… really appalling, in my opinion.”

The two items are being sold by separate auction houses.

Michael Collins was shot dead in west Cork during the Irish Civil War on 22 August 1922. Comrades brought his body to Dublin by sea on board the steamship Classic.

His body was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital to be embalmed by a team of pathologists before being removed to lie in state at Dublin City Hall.

Ciaran O’Boyle of Adam’s Auctions, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin, which is to sell the lock of hair on Wednesday, argued that the people who bought such items would preserve them.

“The buyers are people who are passionate about their history and this country,” he said.

Mr O’Boyle said the lock of hair had been taken by Collins’ elder sister, Kitty, as he lay in state. In the 1950s, it had been given to a friend of the family. It is expected to fetch 3,000 to 5,000 euros at auction.

Auctioneers Mealy’s are selling the swab at an auction in Dublin next Wednesday.

Auctioneer George Mealy said that it was a framed swab of lint and cotton wool used to clean Collins’s face which was kept by a nurse, Nessie Rogan, who worked at St Vincent’s Hospital. It has been passed down though her family.

He defended the decision to auction it.

“It is something that is so evocative and so important and directly linked to Michael Collins,” he said.

“It is a very sensitive item but the future of it will be secured. It will not be lost through the cracks of history. Whoever buys it will appreciate it.

“It is not about selling to the highest bidder but more about selling to someone who will know its importance and appreciate it and maintain its future existence.”

By Nick Bramhill
Irish Examiner
April 11, 2012

Hopes that Michael Collins will be named Britain’s greatest foe rest on the shoulders of an English-born history lecturer.

Gabriel Doherty, from Birmingham and born of Irish parents who emigrated in the 1950s, has been chosen to represent Collins at an all-day speaker’s event at the National Army Museum in London on Saturday.

Michael Collins

He will have to make a compelling case in just 40 minutes to convince a live audience that the Big Fella was a greater adversary than four other military leaders: Ataturk, Napoleon, Rommel, and George Washington.

The event, in which the winning foe will be selected by secret ballot, follows last month’s online poll by the museum, in which 20 top enemy commanders were whittled down to five.

Collins’s supporters will be hoping the revolutionary leader goes one better than he did in the preliminary poll, when he came second with 2,787 votes to the founding father of Turkey, rebel army commander Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who bagged 3,090 votes.

Mr Doherty, who has lectured at UCC for 20 years, said he would be “blocking out the next few days” to read up on Collins and prepare a convincing argument as to why he should be named Britain’s greatest foe.

“My participation was confirmed this [Tuesday] morning after I was approached last Saturday, so I’ve a good bit of reading to do to prepare myself.

“I also need to do some research on the other four foes, who were all tremendous figures, to learn more about them.

“But Collins was much more than just a great military leader. He had many different hats and the political and administrative skills of Collins tend to be a lot more overlooked and less appreciated.

“You could argue that the single biggest contribution he ever made was on the financial side by raising money in the US for the Dáil loan.

“Also, the speech he gave in the Dáil following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty was superb, and better than de Valera’s. The political side of Collins was underrated.”

Mr Doherty added: “I don’t know exactly what angle I’ll be taking, but… by Saturday I’ll be prepared.”

MICHAEL PARSONS
Irish Times
9 Apr 2012

IS NOTHING sacred? Macabre mementos of the death of Michael Collins have come to light: a lock of hair taken from the dead leader’s head and a cotton swab used to clean his corpse are among the items being offered for sale at specialist auctions of Irish historical memorabilia later this month.

Auctioneers Adam’s of St Stephen’s Green, Dublin, is to sell “an envelope containing a lock of tangled brown hair” which is inscribed “Hair of head of Michael Collins when laid in State in the City Hall August 1922”.

The souvenir was owned by Kitty Collins Sheridan (Collins’s elder sister) who gave it to a friend in the late 1950s. The vendor’s name has not been disclosed. Adam’s expects the item will sell for up to €5,000 at its auction titled “800 Years – Irish Political, Military and Literary History” on April 18th .

Collins was shot dead at Béal na mBláth in west Cork during the Civil War 90 years ago on the evening of August 22nd, 1922. The fatal bullet had struck his head. Comrades brought his body to Dublin by sea on board the steamship Classic.

Collins’s body was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital to be embalmed by a team of pathologists before being removed to lie in state at Dublin City Hall.

Auctioneers Mealy’s said that a framed swab of lint and cotton wool used to clean Collins’s face was kept by a nurse, Nessie Rogan, who worked at St Vincent’s Hospital. It has been passed down though her family.

It is to be sold in an auction titled “Ireland’s Struggle – Irish and Republican Memorabilia” in Dublin on April 25th and has a pre-sale estimate of €450-€600.

The growing cult of Michael Collins is evidenced by the sheer volume of memorabilia coming on to the market just months ahead of the 90th anniversary of his death.

Among other items in the Adam’s auction is a photograph showing Collins standing on an ironwork balcony, said to be at No. 10 Downing Street, where he negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, and a letter from a priest to Collins’s sister Celestine (a nun), describing him as “one of Ireland’s hidden saints” .

EOIN BURKE-KENNEDY
Irish Times
31 Mar 2012

WHEN IT comes to having thwarted Britain’s military ambitions, Michael Collins stills ranks among the most formidable.

The IRA leader, whose death took place 90 years ago this August, has come second in an online poll conducted by London’s National Army Museum to establish Britain’s greatest military foe.

He was eclipsed for the top spot by Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who repelled the Allied advance at the Dardanelles in 1915, by only a few hundred votes.

The poll, which closed yesterday, ranked Ataturk as Britain’s public enemy number one, with 3,090 votes, followed closely by Collins on 2,787.

The Corkman was ranked ahead of military commanders such as Erwin Rommel, Napoleon Bonaparte and George Washington.

Collins waged a brutal guerrilla war against the British state and its so-called “proxies” in Ireland during the War of Independence.

His strategy of using “flying columns” – small bands of IRA volunteers tasked with ambushing various targets – is credited with dismantling the British intelligence network in Ireland.

The “Big Fella” was for a time the most wanted man in the British empire, with a reward of £10,000 (€360,000 in today’s money) offered for his capture.

A criminal card issued by British Intelligence during the War of Independence, which was recently unearthed, described him as the “Chief of IRA organiser of all ambushes and murders”.

With the bounty still on his head, Collins went to London with the other plenipotentiaries to negotiate the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921. He was killed the following year during the Civil War in the infamous Béal na mBláth ambush, one of the most controversial moments in Irish history.

The museum said the aim of the poll was to highlight the achievements of Britain’s most celebrated enemies, but also to draw attention to some of the country’s lesser-known adversaries.

Other commanders on the list include the German Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, who led attacks on British positions in East Africa during the first World War. Also included are Ntshingwayo kaMahole, who commanded the Zulu rout of British forces in the battle of Isandlwana in 1879, and Tomoyuki Yamashita, who led the rapid Japanese invasion of Britain’s colony in Malaya and the capture of Singapore in 1941.

The top five military commanders in the poll will be represented by five historians who will speak at an event in the museum next month.

By Nuala McCann
BBC
19 March

**Voting has been temporarily suspended due to suspicious efforts on behalf of Ataturk, but voting runs until March 30, so check back and let them know that Michael is the man!

Is Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins Britain’s greatest foe?

In a poll launched by the National Army Museum in London, the votes rose steadily and on Friday, ahead of St Patrick’s Day, Collins topped the poll.

He took the lead ahead of firm favourite Napoleon and left other front runners, like Erwin Rommel and George Washington, in his wake.

But at the weekend, Ataturk took the lead at such an unbelievable pace that the museum’s web team is investigating.

His fans mounted a suprise attack and he came from nowhere to suddenly gain 7,887 votes.

Voting has been suspended for a short while.

The poll has been running since 13 February.

On Saturday 14 April, the five top military leaders as decided by voters will be represented at an all-day event by five leading historians.

“They’ll explain why they were so great, how the British Army was outmanoeuvred by them and what we learned from them,” said a press officer for the museum.

Following the weekend problems when thousands of votes were cast for Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Collins now stands at second in the leader board.

He is followed by Rommel at third and Napoleon Bonaparte in fourth position.

The shortlist of 20 enemy commanders are those, who, the museum says, “dealt the British Army the biggest blow”.

According to the museum website: “Collins’s place in the National Army Museum’s top 20 list of formidable foes is clear.

“An outstanding leader during the Irish War of Independence, he fought the British to a standstill with an army that never exceeded more than 3,000 active volunteers at any given time.

“He also had an instinctive understanding of the strengths and limitations of guerrilla warfare.”

The online voting runs until Friday 30 March 2012. Shortly after that, the names of the five historians who will represented the five “enemy commanders” will be announced.

An original “criminal card” for Collins, issued by British Intelligence during the War of Independence. In it those seeking to arrest him were warned: “Collins, who will stop at nothing, is an expert shot.” The card is expected to fetch between €3,000 and €5,000 at auction next month.

MICHAEL PARSONS
Irish Times
16 Mar 2012

NUNS AND priests on the streets of Dublin in 1920 who were nervously scrutinised by policemen and soldiers were not necessarily the victims of anti-Catholic prejudice.

The Royal Irish Constabulary and Black and Tans were hunting for Michael Collins and had been briefed that he occasionally disguised himself in religious attire. An original “criminal card” for Collins, issued by British Intelligence during the War of Independence, has come to light and will be sold at auction next month.

The fold-up, pocket-sized card bears a photo of the man described as the “Chief of IRA organizer of all ambushes and murders”.

Michael Collins was the most wanted man in the British empire, with a reward of £10,000 (equivalent to roughly €360,000 today) on offer for his capture, although a year later he would be welcomed into 10 Downing Street for talks that led to the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

The card was designed to brief crown forces about how to spot Collins and provided this description: “Age: about 30; Eyes: dark sharp; Mouth: large drooping; Nose: thick; Hair: black; Ears: long; Build: slim; Height: 5’7’’ or 8’’.

Policemen and soldiers were warned in a series of short “remarks” to be on the alert because Collins “often wears the disguise of a priest” and that “on these occasions he invariably carries an umbrella”.

But, confusingly, he also “has been known to travel as a nun”.

It was also claimed that “he sometimes wears a black moustache, which is false, and often changed for another colour”.

The Big Fellow’s fearsome reputation was further underlined with a remark that must have terrified those who were searching for his whereabouts: “Collins, who will stop at nothing, is an expert shot.”

Collins wasn’t caught and continued to fight the British until they offered a truce in 1921. He was shot dead during the Civil War a year later, 90 years ago this August.

Mealy’s rare book and manuscript auctioneers said the card would be auctioned in its sale of Irish republican and historical memorabilia, titled Ireland’s Struggle, in Dublin on April 25th next.

Auctioneer George F Mealy said while he was cataloguing the card, expected to sell for between €3,000 and €5,000, two gardaí visiting the saleroom on unrelated business saw it and “their jaws dropped”.

BARRY ROCHE
Irish Times
4 Jan 2012

THE CENTRAL Bank is to issue a special commemorative €10 coin this year to mark the 90th anniversary of the death of Michael Collins in 1922.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has confirmed to Jim Daly, TD for Cork South West (FG), that the Central Bank will issue the coin to mark the anniversary of the death of Collins who was killed by republicans in an ambush at Béal na mBláth on August 22nd, 1922.

“Michael Collins stands out as one of the greatest contributors to the setting up of this state as an independent republic and he gave his every waking hour to this country, eventually making the ultimate sacrifice by losing his life in the struggle for independence,” Mr Daly said.

“I am aware that there are many other significant anniversaries to be commemorated in the run-up to 2016 but Michael Collins made a particularly unique contribution that merits a special acknowldgement from the Irish State.”

The idea to mark the 90th anniversary of Collins’s death with a special coin came from the Béal na mBláth commemoration committee. Its chairman, Kinsale town councillor Dermot Collins, has warmly welcomed the Central Bank’s decision.

By Sarah Slater
Sunday Independent
January 01 2012

A 10-year love affair between a French woman and one of Ireland’s political heroes grows in intensity as the years slip away.

Known as the “mysterious French lady” who places flowers on the Glasnevin grave of Irish revolutionary Michael Collins, the 50-year-old Parisian cannot explain fully why she has an “overwhelming” desire to keep his memory alive.

Michael Collins

Speaking for the first time about why she spends so much annually on flowers, on visits to his grave from France and commemorations of his life, Veronique Crombe, a lecturer and guide at the French National Museum, explains that it was a film about Collins that changed her life.

In 1996 Irish director Neil Jordan detailed the fallen hero’s life, in Michael Collins, which stars Liam Neeson. It is a film that captured her imagination.

“The draw of seeing the Jordan film three years after it was released appeared to me that it was more than an excellent actor giving a great performance, Michael’s life story was finally being told [to the world],” explains the intensely private woman.

Having no Irish connections that she knows of, she cannot explain why this “draw” to mark and carry on his name has taken such a hold. But her journeys to Ireland have created friendships that carry the history of the Cork man who died 89 years ago.

A candlelight ceremony at his grave on October 29, 2012, is when she plans to visit Glasnevin Cemetery again.

In August 2000, Veronique was attending an Indian classical dance workshop in the south of France, in Rodez, when she felt the inexplicable need to rush to a nearby cathedral and light a candle for Collins.

“On the 22nd, the date he was shot dead, was the decisive moment which helped me understand that definitely, sooner of later I would have to go to Ireland to know more and that going to his grave would show me the way. That Michael himself was drawing me to continue on his story.

“I’m not the only one who feels that way, my friend, author Chrissy Osborne, told me time and again, when she published her first book about Michael, Michael Collins Himself and also the second one, Michael Collins, A Life in Pictures, that she had always felt that it was Michael who wanted those two books to be written and published because both were a different approach to recounting his life.

“The amazing thing was indeed that Mercier Press immediately agreed and wanted to go ahead when Chrissy contacted them to talk about her project, even though she was not a historian, had never written a book and wasn’t even a journalist.

Veronique also adds that: “Amazingly, that is also what I felt when I saw Michael Collins — a Musical Drama, in 2009 . . . The musical was just fantastic, I know it was very special for Bryan Flynn who wrote it and Eoin Cannon who played the part on the three occasions I saw it, and gave a fabulous performance.” All three are now good friends.

Finally, visiting Collins’s grave was a powerful moment for Veronique.

“It is difficult to find words to describe how I felt. It was emotional and tears welled up in my eyes but I didn’t cry and I wasn’t afraid. It was the start of something that is still with me. When a person dies young an energy is left behind. An energy surrounding things left undone. Speaking to relatives of Michael, they say they feel the same.”

So many strangers have now become firm friends due to the politician’s and soldier’s legacy. Bumping into men who — without being asked or seeking recompense — care for his grave, now becomes something of a reunion for Veronique.

“The selfless devotion of Denis Lenihan who has kept Michael’s grave for years. Now two others, both former army men, James and Ronnie are helping Denis out with cleaning the grave and bringing fresh flowers every week.

“I suppose what I do appears more spectacular because it comes from a foreigner but their work shouldn’t go unnoticed. Now other people are placing flowers on his grave.”

Since her first trip to Dublin, she has become involved in a campaign to Save Moore Street and preserve it as a National Monument. These are the houses where the leaders of the 1916 Rising took shelter when they had to evacuate the GPO and where they made the decision to surrender. It is hoped to create an interpretive centre out of the houses.

“The Hewitt sisters at Rosary Florists do a great job for me on preparing the floral arrangements for Collins’s grave. It happens sometimes that I ring them early in the morning saying: ‘Sorry to ring you so early but I woke up this morning knowing that Michael needed something, can you have a few red roses delivered to the grave asap?’ and there is never a problem.

“Usually I realise in an afterthought that the day is a date of some significance in his life.”

Mary Hewitt said that visitors to the grave and callers to the florists are intrigued by the French woman’s commitment to the memory of Collins and her devotion to his legacy. A legacy which has formed a part of modern-day Irish politics.

Michael Brennan
Daily Ireland

The revolutionary leader Michael Collins has been airbrushed out of history, it was claimed yesterday.
A new society, Collins 22, has been set up to publicise the achievements of the west Cork native on the 115th anniversary of his birth on October 16, 1890.
Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins spoke at the launch of the society. He said not enough recognition had been given to Collins’ role as a leader in the War of Independence.
“We’re here to recognise the fact that a man of dedication, vision and unquestionable leadership qualities has been airbrushed from Irish history for far too long,” he said.
He said Collins had built up a complex network of spies that had penetrated Dublin Castle, the nerve centre of British rule in Ireland, and had used innovative military tactics during the war.
“He recognised that you couldn’t get rid of the British with conventional warfare methods. He devised a whole new structure, the ambush guerrilla tactics,” Mr Higgins said.
Collins had been head of the provisional government when he was killed in an ambush in Béal na Bláth in Cork in 1922 during the Civil War.
Mr Higgins said the tantalising question of what would have happened if Collins had lived could never be easily answered.
The MEP for the Northwest constituency said he believed that Collins would have not ignored the discrimination against nationalists in the North and would have put a process in train that would have prevented the outbreak of the Troubles.
Although Collins was never a member of Fine Gael, the party claims a link with him because of his association with the members of the provisional government who went on to form Cumann na nGaedheal and later Fine Gael.
Fine Gael members accounted for five of the seven speakers at the Collins 22 launch in the historic round room of the Mansion House, where the first Dáil met in 1921.
They included party leader Enda Kenny and former justice minister Nora Owen, a grandniece of Michael Collins. The former MEP Mary Banotti, another grandniece, also attended.
Collins 22 organiser Bill Martin said: “We have people from all parties but essentially it’s a Fine Gael-led and supported society.”
He said the society would campaign to put Michael Collins at the centre of Irish history.
“All we want to do is have the man honoured. America honoured George Washington. We became independent from England in 1921 when they signed the treaty, so why isn’t there a statue of Michael Collins outside the Dáil?” he asked.
A statue of Michael Collins has been erected in Clonakilty. His life was the subject of a Neil Jordan film in 1996.

Michael Brennan
Daily Ireland

The revolutionary leader Michael Collins has been airbrushed out of history, it was claimed yesterday.

A new society, Collins 22, has been set up to publicise the achievements of the west Cork native on the 115th anniversary of his birth on October 16, 1890.

Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins spoke at the launch of the society. He said not enough recognition had been given to Collins’ role as a leader in the War of Independence.

“We’re here to recognise the fact that a man of dedication, vision and unquestionable leadership qualities has been airbrushed from Irish history for far too long,” he said.

He said Collins had built up a complex network of spies that had penetrated Dublin Castle, the nerve centre of British rule in Ireland, and had used innovative military tactics during the war.

“He recognised that you couldn’t get rid of the British with conventional warfare methods. He devised a whole new structure, the ambush guerrilla tactics,” Mr Higgins said.

Collins had been head of the provisional government when he was killed in an ambush in Béal na Bláth in Cork in 1922 during the Civil War.

Mr Higgins said the tantalising question of what would have happened if Collins had lived could never be easily answered.

The MEP for the Northwest constituency said he believed that Collins would have not ignored the discrimination against nationalists in the North and would have put a process in train that would have prevented the outbreak of the Troubles.

Although Collins was never a member of Fine Gael, the party claims a link with him because of his association with the members of the provisional government who went on to form Cumann na nGaedheal and later Fine Gael.

Fine Gael members accounted for five of the seven speakers at the Collins 22 launch in the historic round room of the Mansion House, where the first Dáil met in 1921.

They included party leader Enda Kenny and former justice minister Nora Owen, a grandniece of Michael Collins. The former MEP Mary Banotti, another grandniece, also attended.

Collins 22 organiser Bill Martin said: “We have people from all parties but essentially it’s a Fine Gael-led and supported society.”

He said the society would campaign to put Michael Collins at the centre of Irish history.

“All we want to do is have the man honoured. America honoured George Washington. We became independent from England in 1921 when they signed the treaty, so why isn’t there a statue of Michael Collins outside the Dáil?” he asked.

A statue of Michael Collins has been erected in Clonakilty. His life was the subject of a Neil Jordan film in 1996.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

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