A COFFIN of gold buried in a graveyard is the real reason why Michael Collins was in West Cork shortly before he was shot at Beal na Bláth in 1922, according to Cork author Barry Keane.
Speaking at a history talk at the Parish Centre in Clonakilty last Thursday, Mr Keane outlined a chapter from his forthcoming book Cork’s Revolutionary Dead, entitled ‘Michael Collins 1922: The Year of Living Dangerously’.
The book examines the last year of the life of Michael Collins.
Mr Keane claims Collins was in West Cork at that time ‘for purely financial reasons’.
‘Michael Collins wasn’t being reckless at all, he was desperate for money, and that’s what drove him down there,’ Mr Keane told the meeting.
‘The Free State at the time was in dire financial straits and, as Minister for Finance, Michael Collins believed it was his responsibility to find money. I found documents that revealed that gold was the real reason he came to West Cork during a time of heightened tension,’ added the author.
‘An impeccable source that I found during my research said that Collins was down in West Cork to pick up a stash of gold that he had acquired during the War of Independence. Apparently, he put all the gold in a child’s coffin and buried it in a graveyard in a remote part of West Cork.’
According to Barry, Michael Collins was the only one who knew where it was, and if he had been shot on the morning of August 22nd – instead of the evening – the gold would still be there to this day.
‘However, he does manage to pick up the coffin and heads back towards Beal na Bláth where he is shot, but the coffin of gold is taken and put into a bank in Dublin.
A document does exist that outlines this information, but it’s not signed or dated,’ added Mr Keane.
Mr Keane believes the gold was placed in a bank vault in the capital and may have been used as collateral for a government loan the following year.
The book containing the claims will be published in June by Mercier.