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Chance to retrace Collins’ tragic trip to Béal na Bláth

August 17th, 2022 11:45 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

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A SERIES of events including a new exhibition, a bus tour and a commemorative book to mark the centenary of the death of Michael Collins are taking place this month at the Independence Museum in Kimurry, just 3km from the ambush site at Béal na Bláth.

A temporary exhibition ‘Béal na Bláth – The Local Story’ will open at the museum on Friday August 12th at 7:30pm, which has been curated by Kilmurry Historical & Archaeological Association (KHAA).

‘This exhibition aims to give a balanced view of how the ambush impacted on the people of this parish,’ said Mary O’Mahony, chair of KHAA.

‘This is the first time that some of the artifacts in the Béal na Bláth exhibition at Independence Museum will be available to view by the public,’ Mary added.

A centenary edition of Michael Collins: His Death in the Twilight, written by the late Edward O’Mahony, will be republished as a fundraiser for KHAA, who run the museum and community space on a voluntary basis. His book was published in 1996 and it draws on the knowledge of his native parish and access to those involved through his family’s Republican connections, to offer an unique perspective on events.

‘The last known photograph of Michael Collins taken as he left Lee’s Hotel (now the Munster Arms) in Bandon that fateful morning is reproduced on the book’s cover. It was taken by 18-year-old Agnes Hurley from Mallowgaton, who always carried her box camera with her.’

Meanwhile, on Sunday September 4th, KHAA will run a bus tour led by local historian Sean Crowley,  retracing the route the Collins convoy took through Kilmurry, Newcestown and Ovens on that day.

‘From the townland of Ballymichael where the Sliabh mBan armoured car initially failed to climb the steep hill, the tour will proceed to Newcestown church, where Collins waited having become briefly separated from his escort vehicles. After that they will follow the route taken by the convoy back to Cork via Cloughduv and Killumney, outlining the difficulties they encountered on that sad journey.’

Kieran Fitzpatrick, a member of the curating team, said that commemorating the Civil War should be no different despite the difficulties and particular sensitivities raised.

‘The centenary commemoration of Michael Collins’ death at Béal na Bláth was always going to be a key component of the commemoration of the Civil War,’ said Kieran.

See www.kilmurrymuseum.ie for more details of events and opening hours

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