The black marble monument was unveiled at Cathal Brugha Barracks, in the same spot where one of the most iconic photographs of ‘The Big Fella’ was taken, two weeks before he was shot dead.
A copy of the photo, dated Aug 7, 1922, had hung above the chair in the Barrack Barbers Shop for several years before barber Private Noel McDonnell decided to research the image and pinpoint its exact location.
He said it was a dream come true that two years later — on the 91st anniversary of Collins’ death — a memorial planned and funded by soldiers on the base was erected.
Today marks the 91st anniversary of the death of Michael Collins. Plaque unveiled today by Cathal Brugha Barracks garrison.— The Military Archives (@dfarchives) August 22, 2013
The tricolour hung at half-mast during the ceremony, in which a wreath was laid by Collins’ grandniece, Helen Collins. The Sliabh na mBan armoured car, which her granduncle had travelled in on the day he was killed at Béal na mBláth, Co Cork, was parked nearby.
Ms Collins, from Cork, said it meant so much to her that soldiers had collected money for the memorial, which cost €1,200.
“I actually did not expect myself to feel so emotional about it,” she said.
Ms Collins — whose grandfather Johnny was Collins’ eldest brother — said past generations of her family never held any bitterness despite being burnt out of their home at Woodfield, interned on Spike Island, and Collins’ murder.
“But it was always like feeling a loss,” she said.
“It was like the table was always set for him and he never came home.”
Unveiling the stonework, Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Conor O’Boyle, said the striking image of the first commander-in-chief was taken when he returned from a memorial service for seven soldiers killed in the Civil War.
“The great tragedy, of course, was that only a few short days later he was to fall in action himself and become our legendary lost leader, 91 years ago on this day,” he said.