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Collins’ diaries to be displayed in Clon

November 13th, 2021 8:00 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Taoiseach Micheál Martin viewing one of the Michael Collins diaries with Helen Collins (a grandniece of Michael Collins), framed by a window of the house where Collins was born at Woodfield, Clonakilty. (Photo: Martin Walsh)

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FIVE pocket diaries that were once owned by Michael Collins will be on show in Clonakilty next year and they will also be available to everyone online to read in digital format.

That’s all thanks to the Collins family in West Cork who have generously donated to the State the five pocket diaries that were once owned by Michael Collins.
   The donation of the diaries can be described as the gift that keeps on giving, because they’ll be preserved at the National Archives which will make them available digitally, while Clonakilty’s Michael Collins House will have the original diaries on show for two months in 2022, the centenary of his death in a republican ambush at Béal na Bláth.

Each and every year after that, the diaries will go on display for one month of the year at Michael Collins House, which will make that venue a huge attraction for tourists and historians.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin received the diaries on behalf of the State at an outdoor ceremony at Woodfield in Clonakilty on Monday afternoon.

Helen Collins, the grandniece of Michael Collins, told those assembled how the spirit of Michael Collins lives on ‘in love’ at his old homestead at Woodfield, while Béal na Bláth speaks very much to his death.

She recalled how her grandfather, Johnny, gave the diaries to her late father, Liam, and how happy all the family is that they are going to be preserved and studied.

The Taoiseach described the notebooks – which were displayed openly on a table covered with a crisp, white linen cloth – as ‘invaluable, primary source documents.’

They offer up fresh insights into often secret meetings, events and appointments from 1918 to 1922, the period before and after the formation of the State.

The leader of Fianna Fáil said the diaries tell the story of one of the most turbulent periods in our history, but they also bring to life the man who did so much to bring about the formation of the State in the few short years before his untimely death at the age of 32.

The changing face of Irish politics and its move towards a three-party coalition was neatly captured by brief and insightful speeches by the Fine Gael Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, as well as the Green Party’s Minister for Tourism And Culture, Catherine Martin.

Politicians of all persuasions attended the event as did members of the extended Collins family, their friends, and people perpetually fascinated by the man and the myth of Michael Collins.

Standing alongside a remarkable bust of Michael Collins with the old Woodfield homestead in the background, Helen Collins said the family recognised the national importance of the diaries and the need to have them properly preserved.

She welcomed the fact that there is more good news in the offing, because the Michael Collins 100 committee are working on plans to fundraise and gift the city of Dublin with a statue of Michael Collins.

The plan is to commission sculptor Kevin Holland, who made the much-loved and much-visited Collins statue at Emmet Square in Clonakilty, and to have the finished work in place in time for the 2022 commemorations.

All that is needed to fulfil that objective is the provision of a suitable site by Dublin City Council.

A group of West Cork public representatives, including county  mayor Gillian Coughlan (FF), are working with their counterparts in Dublin to ensure that the legacy of Michael Collins lives on.

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