Calls for Cork County Council to buy Collins walking cane

Calls for Cork County Council to buy Collins walking cane
Michael Collins with the walking cane that will go under the hammer later this month with DeVeres Irish Art Auctioneers

Cork County Council is being urged to buy a rare artifact which once belonged to General Michael Collins and add it to a collection dedicated to his life which is housed in a museum the council runs.

De Veres Irish Art Auctioneers and Valuers has announced it will hold a major auction of “outstanding Irish art” at the Royal College of Physicians on Kildare St, Dublin, on November 26.

Among the items to go under the hammer is Lot 84, a walking cane which once belonged to Collins, who was killed in an IRA ambush at Béal na Bláth, Co Cork, on August 22, 1922.

Lot 84 is described as “an important rosewood and silver mounted walking cane” which Collins, chairman of the Provisional Government, was often photographed holding while dressed in his commander-in-chief of the National Army uniform.

At 92cm in length, the cane comes with a letter of provenance.

The cane is part of the collection of Jack Cormack from Lucan who was a driver for The Big Fella. In 1921, Cormack was shot in his leg and hand close to where the Red Cow Roundabout is located today.

Collins gave Cormack his cane to aid his walking while he was recovering.

“This item has significant history attached to it,” said De Veres.

They said the cane comes with a surprisingly low guide price of €2,000.

Mayor of County Cork, Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan, said he would urge senior Cork County Council officials to purchase the cane and put it on display at the Michael Collins House museum in Clonakilty, Co Cork.

The museum is based at 7 Emmet Sq, Clonakilty, one of just a handful of planned Georgian squares outside of Dublin.

The museum explores Collins’ life but also looks at local revolutionary patriots such as Tadhg an Asna who led the local forces into battle in 1798 and the unrepentant Fenian, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, both of whom influenced the young Collins.

“Michael Collins House is an important attraction and visitor numbers there are increasing year on year. As far as I’m concerned we need more Michael Collins memorabilia there and news of this auction presents us with a great opportunity to purchase the cane he once used,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

Collins was born at Woodfield, west of Clonakilty, on October 16, 1890.

The council started restoring the house at 7 Emmet Sq after it was purchased in 2012 by Clonakilty Town Council.

Collins moved into a house in the same square in 1903 where he lived with his sister, Margaret, while attending the town’s national school. Her husband, Patrick O’Driscoll, published the newspaper, The West Cork People, from the house and a young Collins helped out by doing reporting work on local events.

In 1906, he left Clonakilty for a job in the Post Office in London, where he became associated with the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Gaelic League. Collins returned to Ireland in 1916.

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