By Peter Allen
BLUESHIRTS and history buffs will be interested in the recent discovery of new documents, written by and belonging to Michael Collins’ fiancée, Kitty Kiernan.
Kitty was engaged to the first commander-in-chief of the Irish Free State at the time of his death on August 22nd 1922, at the Beal na Bláth ambush.
As reported on US-based website Irish Central and local paper The Donegal Democrat, a Donegal antiques collector Cliffy Kelly got a big surprise when he bought a cigar box at an online auction. Inside the box were letters that had once been in the possession of Kitty Kiernan.
One note, dated S. Patrick’s Day 1927 read: ‘In Rememberee (sic) of our beloved friend General Michael Collins, born 1890, murdered 1922. Always loved and remembered by your loving friend Kitty Cronin Kiernan.’
Another note gives an impression of the correspondence between the Big Fella’s friends and acquaintances, left in the wake of his death: ‘To Kitty, best wishes and fond memories of the old days.
Sean Mac. Bless his memory forever. Big Fella RIP.’
The letter was most likely received from the former pro-Treaty forces general-officer-commanding, Sean MacEoin. MacEoin led the initial pacification of anti-Treaty forces in the west of Ireland and was close to Collins. He was native to Longford, as was Kitty.
Other paraphernalia discovered in the box, included a number of religious medals that belonged to hunger strikers, along with scapulars, rosary beads and a mass card that commemorated the tenth anniversary of Collins’ death in 1932. Interestingly, there were also memorial cards for a Maura or Mary Barry, within the box.
Cliffy Kelly’s brother, Kiernan, is a historian. He has already contacted the National Library and the National Museum about donating the contents. ‘I want to do a lot of work (finding out more about the items),’ he said.
After the death of Michael Collins in 1922, Kitty married the quartermaster of the Irish army, Felix Cronin, in 1925. They had two sons, the second of whom they called Michael Collins Cronin.
She died of Bright’s disease on July 24th1945 and is buried beside her husband and two sons in Dublin’s Glasnevin cemetery. The grave of Michael Collins is situated on the same burial ground.