The Mayor of the County of Cork has welcomed the return of the diaries of Michael Collins back to his hometown of Clonakilty, Co. Cork. To mark the centenary of the death of Michael Collins, the diaries, which cover the critical time period of 1918 to 1922, will go on public display, for the very first time, at the Michael Collins House Museum, Clonakilty.
The diaries were loaned to the National Archives by the descendants of Collins, the family of the late Liam and Betty Collins, Clonakilty, Cork. The diaries have undergone significant conservation and preservation treatment, archival processing and digitisation at the National Archives over recent months.
Visitors to the museum will be able to view all five diaries on a touchscreen device installed in the Michael Collins House Museum while the 1921 and 1922 diaries in physical form will go on public display for the month of August.
Welcoming the unveiling of the diaries, North Cork Fine Gael Councillor John Paul O’Shea said, “It is an incredible honour to have this exhibition at Michael Collins House. I am thrilled that the first time Michael Collins’ diaries are going on public display is right here in his hometown of Clonakilty. Much has been written about Michael Collins over the last 100 years but there is something so special about seeing his actual words, written by his own hand on the pages of his diaries. I would like to congratulate Michael Collins House, the National Archives and the Collins family on coming together to make this possible. I hope the diaries will encourage people from far and wide to visit the museum and Clonakilty as well as inspiring people’s interest in history.”
Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD said, “I am delighted that these diaries have been entrusted into the care of the State and deposited in the National Archives by the family of Michael Collins. This is an important year under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 National Programme as we mark the centenary of the Civil War and the deaths of so many men and women, chief amongst them Michael Collins, who played such a significant part during Ireland’s revolutionary period.”
Speaking at the event, Orlaith McBride, Director of the National Archives, said, “The National Archives is very proud to partner with Cork County Council to bring these precious diaries to the Michael Collins House Museum, Clonakilty for public display. In returning the diaries to the place of Collins’ youth, a place that shaped and formed the young revolutionary, we are introducing them to a wider public as an important new primary source material to further our understanding of this significant national figure.”
Also speaking, Helen Collins said, “Michael Collins’ older brother Johnny passed these diaries to his son, our Dad, Liam Collins. My siblings and I are very pleased, on our father’s behalf, to place these precious diaries in the care of the National Archive and we are particularly happy to have them exhibited in our father’s hometown of Clonakilty. Our grand uncle Michael Collins lived an extraordinary life. The diaries will give the public a much greater understanding of this exceptional and courageous man.”
Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey added, “I would like to thank the Collins family for sharing the precious and valuable diaries with the people of Cork County. It is at their request that the diaries are here at the Council’s Michael Collins House Museum and will return to Clonakilty each year. Their generous donation ensures that the diaries and the fascinating insights they contain are conserved and preserved for future generations.”
Admission to the exhibition is free and the Michael Collins House Museum will extend its opening hours throughout the month of August.
The diaries are presented as part of the Government of Ireland’s Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 National Programme.
Michael Collins (1890–1922), was born in Co. Cork, he was a staff captain in the GPO in the 1916 Rising and emerged as a leading figure after his internment in Frongoch camp. As the Director of Intelligence with the Irish Volunteers, he was a leading figure in their campaign in the Anglo-Irish war (1919-21). Having signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty, in 1922 he became chairman of the Provisional Government and commander-in-chief of the National Army. He was killed in an ambush in Co. Cork on 22 August 1922.
The National Archives preserves the memory of the State in the form of its written records. It acquires and protects Ireland’s public records, thereby ensuring their availability as a resource for all. These records relate to the social, cultural, economic and political history of the island of Ireland from the Middle Ages through to the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 and into the modern era.
Venue: Michael Collins House Museum, 7 Emmet Square, Clonakilty, County Cork
Dates: 30 July – 4 September 2022
Opening hours: Daily, 9am – 6pm