A ‘grand’ central location for new statue of Collins

April 28th, 2023 11:45 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Tadhg Crowley at the proposed site on the Grand Parade.

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A BRONZE statue of Michael Collins is to be erected in almost the same spot where he delivered a famous speech to over 50,000 on the Grand Parade in Cork city over 100 years ago.

It will be the first ever statue of ‘The Big Fella’ in Cork city centre with the Grand Parade location recently confirmed by both Cork City Council and the Michael Collins 100 committee.

Last September, West Cork-born Fine Gael city councillor Shane O’Callaghan, was successful in raising a motion calling on the Council to erect a statue of Collins in Cork city centre. 

Committee member, Tim Crowley, who owns the Michael Collins Centre outside Clonakilty, said it is a fantastic location for the statue.

‘It’s more or less in front of the city library and will be in line with the Bervick fountain and the national monument at the other end,’ said Tim.

‘Michael Collins delivered a speech to a pro-Treaty rally at almost the same spot on March 12th 1922 but we didn’t realise it until we were given the site and began researching where he actually delivered the speech. So it’s a sort of a coincidence really.’

Several other locations had been considered across the city centre, but the Grand Parade location was deemed  the most suitable.

‘We are commissioning the statue and getting it made, while the Council will install it and put in paving around it. We are also providing an obelisk where we will erect four granite plaques telling the story of the statue.’

Now that they have a vast open site, they have decided to increase the height of the statue to complement the location.

‘Michael Collins was 5ft 11 and we were going to put the statue at 6ft 4, but given the location we agreed with the Council to rise the statue to 7ft to the top of his hat. The whole concept of this project is that he will be among the people in the Grand Parade.’

The bronze statue is currently being made by North Cork sculptor, Kevin Holland, who also made the Michael Collins statue in Emmet Square in Clonakilty, which was unveiled by Liam Neeson in 2002. 

‘The bike itself will be made of stainless steel and then coated in bronze, while the statue will be made of bronze and is based on the image of him with a Pierce bicycle as seen in a famous photograph taken in Wexford in 1922.’

Tim is keen to emphasise that they are still fundraising for this statue and it may cost a bit more due to the larger scale of both the statue and bike.

‘We are appealing to businesses and individuals to contribute to the fund and those that do will receive a special commemorative certificate acknowledging their contribution and their name and details will also be put in a time capsule, which will be placed in the plinth under the statue.’

Cllr Shane O’Callaghan said the Grand Parade location is the ‘perfect location’ and he congratulated both Cork City Council and the committee for picking it.

‘It is right in the heart of Cork city centre, in an area that is going to be redeveloped into a cultural centre over the next few years, as part of the redevelopment of Bishop Lucey Park and the City Library,’ said Cllr O’Callaghan.

‘Its location close to the City Library will also be very beneficial to visitors who can walk a very short distance to the library to find out more about Michael Collins.’

Plans are already in place to unveil the statue on August 20th. This will be just days before the 101st anniversary of his death at Béal na Bláth will be marked.

Anyone who wishes to make a contribution to the statue can go to for further information. 

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