Restored Georgian house to become Michael Collins museum

The council is painstakingly restoring the house in Emmet Square, Clonakilty, where Collins once worked.

A new museum dedicated to the life of Michael Collins and Ireland’s struggle for independence from the 1798 rebellion onwards, will open in a Georgian house being restored by Cork County Council.

The council is restoring No 7 Emmet Square, Clonakilty, where Collins once worked as a young reporter on the newspaper The West Cork People.

The building forms part of a Georgian square, one of the few of its type outside Dublin, which was laid out between 1785 and 1810.

Collins was born near Clonakilty in 1890 and in 1903 he moved into No 7 Emmet Square to live with his sister Margaret while he was attending the town’s national school.

Her husband Patrick O’Driscoll published the newspaper and the young Collins helped out in by doing reporting work on various local events. In 1906, he left Clonakilty for a job in the Post Office in London.

The house was used as a private residence up to 1981, when it became a solicitor’s practice. It was acquired by the local town council two years ago and is now under the control of the county council.

“The project will restore the house to former glory and will give the visitor a view of what the house was like in its Georgian splendour. Conservation work has being carried out very sympathetically and main body of the house has now being restored,” a council spokesman said.

He said the Michael Collins House Museum will tell story of Ireland’s struggle for independence, focusing on three main characters in telling that story: Tadhg an Asna and the 1798 rebellion; O’Donovan Rossa covering the late 19th century, and Michael Collins covering the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War.

In addition, the house will contain an audio-visual room and a printing room which will tell the history of The West Cork People.

“The former town council of Clonakilty and Cork County Council have been acquiring artifacts and papers to be displayed at the house and have been fortunate in the donations they have received to date, most notably a collection of papers from relatives of Michael Collins,” the spokesman said.

The town council had also remodelled Kennedy Garden making it more accessible in 2013.

“The Michael Collins House Museum is part of the continuing redevelopment of Emmet Square which acts as an important axis between the house and statue of Michael Collins just off the square,” he said.

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