A CLONAKILTY museum has purchased a menu for a meal that turned out to be Michael Collins’ last birthday celebration.
The Michael Collins Centre Museum at Castleview in Clonakilty, which has just opened for the summer season, purchased the document at Whyte’s Auction in Dublin.
‘It is a menu for a meal that Michael Collins had with Arthur Griffith, Eamon Duggan and their secretaries at the Frascati Restaurant on Oxford Street in London during the Treaty negotiations,’ Tim Crowley explained. ‘What nobody seemed to have noticed until now was that the date on the menu – Sunday October 16th 1921 – was Michael Collins’s 31st birthday – and sadly his last.’
Collins took his secretaries out for dinner that evening because they had been working long hours. ‘It was a low-key celebration of his birthday and the menu for the meal is printed in blue ink on the front. The signatures of Michael Collins, Arthur Griffith, Eamon Duggan and their secretaries including sisters Alice and Ellie Lyons are written on the back.’
‘What is also extraordinary about the signatures is that even though there was plenty of space on the back of the menu, Collins wrote his own in between the signatures of the two sisters.’ Tim said that with the Treaty negotiations still at an early stage, Collins was very conscious of his own security and obviously wanted to keep a low profile, just in case the signatures got into the wrong hands.
‘Collins usually sprinted in and out of 10 Downing Street during the talks to avoid being photographed.’