THE decision to remove the blood-soaked cap worn by Michael Collins on the day he was shot at Béal na Bláth in 1922, from public display at the Collins Barracks Museum, has been criticised by his grand-niece Helen Collins.
The cap, which had been on display at the Collins Barracks museum, along with the great-coat worn by the general on the same day, was removed due to ‘modern museum ethics’ and the museum board took into account the sensitivities of the descendants of Michael Collins, a spokesperson for the museum said.
However, speaking to The Southern Star, Helen Collins said she was surprised to learn that the cap had been removed from public display. ‘Nobody asked me if I had a problem with the cap being on display,’ she said.
‘This is an important piece of Irish history and I certainly have no problem with it being on display for all to see. There is no reason why it should have been removed.’
Another relative of Michael Collins, his grand-nephew Robert Pierse, described the decision as ‘political correctness gone wrong’.
And the Minister with responsibility for museums, Patrick O’Donovan TD, has also hit out at the decision, citing the blood-soaked jersey worn by Michael Hogan on Bloody Sunday, which is on display at the GAA museum.
However, a spokesperson for the National Museum said the cap was removed due to the ‘sensitivity of General Collins’ blood’ and ‘organic matter on the object’ and added that the cap could be viewed if a person makes a prior appointment with the museum.
Michael Collins was shot in the head, as he toured Free State troops in West Cork and after a visit to his home place at Sam’s Cross outside Clonakilty.
• Michael Collins will feature in a new TG4 series on TG4, see page 6 for more.