Michael Collins never lived in the Georgian house in the West Cork town of Clonakilty, which is being painstakingly restored as a museum dedicated to the life of Ireland’s best known freedom fighter.
Although a plaque on No.7 Emmet Square says Collins once lived in the house, new information reveals he actually lived a few doors down, in No 13.
A new book on Collins reports that, according to research carried out by three local historians in the Land Valuation Office in Dublin late last year, Collins, his sister, and his brother-in-law actually lived in No 13.
The research, by Vincent Allen, Michael O’Mahony, and Tomás Tuipéar also reveals that the West Cork People newspaper was not published at No 7 Emmet Square by Michael Collins’s brother-in-law, as has also been believed, but in Cork city.
“We carried out the research in the Land Valuation Office in Dublin before Christmas,” said Mr Tuipéar. “The numbers of the house on the Square were changed in 1896, which is recorded in the Town Valuation. We have a record of Patrick O’Driscoll, who was married to Collin’s sister Margaret, living in No 13 in what was then known as Shannon Square.”
No 7 was “probably the most suitable building” on Emmet Square for the museum, he said, while emphasising that documents showed it had not been lived in by the rebel leader.
Mr Tuipéar added that he believed the Collins story as presented in his own town should be correct.
“The museum is in the ideal place in the square,” he said. “However, the narrative must show that Collins actually lived in No 13 and in Clogheen on the edge of Clonakilty.”
In his just-published book, In Search of Michael Collins, Tim Crowley, founder of the family-run Michael Collins Museum and Interpretative Centre just outside the town, said he was satisfied the research was solid, adding that he had been happy to use it in his book with permission of those who carried it out.
“In my book, I say that it is believed, that while attending school in Clonakilty, Collins lived in Emmet Square,” said Mr Crowley. “Anecdotally that was believed to be in No 7, but recent information indicates that he actually lived in No 13.”
Cork County Council said it was not aware of the emergence of any new information.
“At the time of the purchase, a plaque was in situ recording that Michael Collins had resided there with his sister,” said a spokesman. “However, Cork County Council was aware that Michael Collins may have lived elsewhere on the square. There were a number of reasons for this, namely the numbering system on the square had been reversed around the turn of the 20th century and another house may have being included in the numbering system which is no longer in existence.
“Conclusive evidence is not available to confirm the exact O’Driscoll residence. Should this change, which would be very important from a historical perspective, and if required, Cork County Council would have no hesitation in relocating the plaque, subject to the present owner’s consent.”
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