Collins event off to superb start with re-enactment of speech

June 30th, 2022 11:55 AM

By Southern Star Team

John O’Leary as Michael Collins with the deputy mayor of Clonakilty, Chris Hinchy

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THE inaugural event for the Michael Collins Commemorations saw actor John O’Leary re-enact the speech delivered by Michael Collins in advance of the 1922 general election, 100 years later, to the day.

Tim Crowley from the Michael Collins Centre, which was last week announced as one of the country’s top tourist attractions, gave context to the proceedings and explained that while there is extensive silent footage of Collins, there is no audio recording.

John O’Leary stood in the back of a Model T Ford and gave voice to Collins’s speech and delivered it to a 21st century audience.

‘We were moved, transported to a place where the significance of the occasion was almost tangible,’ said an organiser.

‘O’Leary had obviously closely studied Collins’ mannerisms, body language and gestures,’ she said. ‘The fact that he resembled Collins in stature gave credence to the onlookers. His body seemed to fill the period car that drove him to the front door of O’Donovan’s Hotel. He embodied Collins’ salute to the crowd and punctuated salient points in his oration with the same iconic gesticulation forever encapsulated in Collins’ statue, only a few yards away.’

As the original footage of the election rally played on a screen nearby, he canvassed the crowded street, asking the people of Clonakilty to vote for him the following day, in the boy’s school.

The fact that many were dressed in early 1900s attire, enhanced the atmosphere.

The Michael Collins Festival will take place from August 14th-22nd and committees from several organisations are coming together to pay tribute to the life and times of Michael Collins in key West Cork locations. Already, schoolchildren have been busy creating integrated visual arts and history projects, which will be displayed throughout the summer in shop windows around Clonakilty.

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