State examines developing centre at Collins’ birthplace

THE state is exploring the possibility of developing an interpretive centre at the birthplace of Michael Collins.

Brian Hayes, Minister of State at the Office of Public Works (OPW), will today visit Woodfield, just outside Clonakilty in West Cork, to examine the site and discuss its potential.

The site has been in state ownership for almost 20 years and is maintained by the OPW.

However, local Fine Gael TD Jim Daly said he believes there is huge untapped potential in the site.

“It has been a long-held belief of mine that there is huge development potential around this site,” he said.

“An interpretive centre of some form here would help bring Collins’ legacy to a new generation.”

Collins was born in a farmhouse at Woodfield on October 16, 1890 — a member of the eighth generation of the Collins family to live there. He left for Dublin with his family in 1906.

The family home was burned by members of the Essex Regiment in 1921.

In the 1980s, Collins’ nephew Liam transformed the site into the Michael Collins Memorial Centre.

It was officially opened in October 1990 by the then president, the late Dr Patrick Hillery, to mark the centenary of Collins’ birth.

The site, which includes a restored stone house and a bust of Collins, can be visited by the public at any time.

Collins expert Timothy Crowley, who along with his wife Dolores, runs the nearby Michael Collins Centre, said Woodfield is a very special place.

“It would be important that members of the Collins family are consulted about any plans for the site,” he said.

“But I’m sure the OPW has experts very skilled in this area.

“When you walk into the site, it’s a bit like a cathedral — there is a spirituality about the place.

“You can see the humble beginnings of a man who brought a powerful empire to its knees.

“I have often remarked it’s a bit like seeing the log cabin where Abe Lincoln was born, and it shows that anything is possible.”

Mr Crowley’s centre, which began guided tours of sites associated with Collins after the 1996 smash hit movie Michael Collins, starring Liam Neeson, opens today for the 2011 season.



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