THE family of Michael Collins have said they would like to see his homeplace at Woodfield outside Clonakilty protected and wouldn’t support any further development there.
Their comments came after Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he was very moved by his visit to the site in November to view the Collins diaries, which were donated to the State.
He said he noted how the family felt Béal na Bláth was a ‘death site’ but the homestead, near Sam’s Cross, was much more personal to them.
‘They much prefer Woodfield, the birthplace of Michael Collins … I got it when I was at Woodfield. The location is idyllic, where he was born and reared and you can almost see him running around those fields,’ Deputy Martin was reported as saying.
This week Collins’ grandniece Helen Collins said her father handed Woodfield over to the Irish people in 1991 and it is now protected by the Office of Public Works (OPW).
And she added that the place should be preserved just as it is.
‘Our family want it protected as is ... it’s a beautiful real space and nothing should be added to it or changed. Its authenticity is its power.’
She said she was delighted that the Taoiseach liked Woodfield.
But, she added, with the centenary of Collins’ death later this year, Béal na Bláth is ‘where our focus must lie’. ‘That is where there is a huge need for healing and reconciliation,’ she added.
‘Michael was born in October 1890 at Woodfield,’ explained Helen, ‘and my Dad already did those centenary celebrations in 1990 with an amazing reconciliation gathering. The Taoiseach listened to us on this and we are 100% in agreement. It is our hope that the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste together will attend the Béal na Bláth centenary service.’
She said she believed funding has now been approved to mark the site of his murder. ‘I believe a beautiful memorial, designed by the excellent Giulia Vallone and her team, will be underway shortly at Béal na Bláth. I’m really looking forward to that.’