Clonakilty museum may bid for Michael Collins' ‘swagger stick' in auction

November 25th, 2019 10:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

The walking stick which is up for auction on Tuesday.

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A WALKING stick, said to have belonged to Michael Collins, is up for sale at an auction in Dublin next week.

The walking stick was reportedly given by the famous West Cork man to his driver John (Jack) Cormack, after he was wounded in the hand and leg during an ambush in 1921 during the War of Indpendence. It has already generated a lot of interest with a number of enquiries – including one from Michael Collins House in Clonakilty – to deVeres auction house in Dublin.

‘It is a very interesting item, previously belonging to one of Ireland’s most historic figures,’ Rory Guthrie of deVeres told The Southern Star.

‘John (Jack) Cormack was born on June 24th 1894 and was a driver for Michael Collins,’ Rory explained. He was shot in the leg and hand at the Red Cow around 1921. However, the exact date is unknown. Collins gave Cormack the stick and it has remained in the family since.’

Jack Cormack’s granddaughter, Sinead, inherited the walking stick but has said that her grandfather rarely spoke of this time in his life.

‘The story of how it ended up in the possession of the vendor only adds to its interest. 

‘With the impending centenary anniversary, it represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire a piece of history.

‘Interestingly, the vendor says her grandfather rarely spoke about that time, even to her mother. A sign that perhaps illustrates how difficult it was in Ireland at that time,’ Rory said.

Michael Collins was often photographed, in the uniform of a General of the Free State Army carrying a similar stick. But, given the size and thickness of the stick for sale, perhaps it could be better described as a ‘swagger stick’, which was sometimes carried by officers at that time.

The walking stick has generated even more interest in West Cork, with calls from county mayor Christopher O’Sullivan 

(FF) calling on Cork County Council to bid when it goes under the hammer next Tuesday evening.

Speaking to The Southern Star, Jamie Murphy, manager at the Michael Collins House, said that they would be very interested in having the walking stick on display in Clonakilty.

‘We are very interested in this walking stick,’ Jamie said.

‘While there are photos of Collins carrying a similar stick, we have been in contact with the auctioneers to get as much information as we can from them, and we are already doing our own research into the stick.’

‘We will continue to research as much as we can, so we can’t confirm yet if we will be bidding,’ Jamie said. 

The walking stick, which is Lot 84 in deVeres’ catalogue, is estimated to make between €2,000 to €4,000 at the auction which takes place on Tuesday, November 26th at 6pm.

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