Memories of Kitty Kiernan set to fetch up to €6,000 at Whyte’s Auction

A vanity case belonging to the fiancee of Michael Collins is to go under the auction hammer next month.

Memories of Kitty Kiernan set to fetch up to €6,000 at Whyte’s Auction

Collins proposed to Catherine ‘Kitty’ Brigid Kiernan, on October 8, 1921 in the Grand Hotel in Greystones, Co Wicklow.

She had also been the love interest of Harry Boland.

Kitty first met Collins in 1918 when he stayed at the hotel in Granard, Co Longford— from where she hailed — with his friend, republican and politician Boland.

As the Civil War progressed in the wake of the Anglo-Irish Treaty with Britain, Kitty was anxious to fix a date for her wedding. She hoped to have a double wedding with her sister Maud, who was due to marry barrister Gearóid O’Sullivan.

In the spring of 1922, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was passed and as the country split into those who supported the Treaty and those who did not, Collins became commander-in-chief of the Free State Army.

But, before a day could be chosen, on August 22, 1922, Collins was shot dead by Anti-Treaty forces at Béal na mBláth in Co Cork.

Now, Kitty’s black leather vanity case, with a fitted interior lined dark green watered silk is on sale at Whyte’s auction house in their Eclectic Collector sale on May 5.

Estimated to be worth up to €6,000, Lot 117 contains silver mounted glass jars and accessories hallmarked in 1897. A headscarf, a pair of gloves and eight various photographs of Kitty including a photograph of her at Béal na mBláth in 1923.

Kitty Kiernan Cronin’s vanity case and pic of her at Beal Na Bath Whyte’s auction
Kitty Kiernan Cronin’s vanity case and pic of her at Beal Na Bath Whyte’s auction

Stuart Purcell, head of collectables at Whyte’s said: “We expect there to be good interest in Kitty Kiernan Cronin’s vanity case given her connection to such a giant of Irish history, Michael Collins.

“The lot certainly is a unique piece and as such is valued to reflect this. Hopefully, it will go to someone or organisation who will truly treasure it.”

According to the Glasnevin Trust, Kitty spent more than a year wandering from relative to relative carrying the precious souvenirs of her dead lover. In 1925, she married Felix Cronin, who was quartermaster general in the Irish Army. They had two sons, the second of whom they called Michael Collins Cronin.

She died of Bright’s disease (kidney disease) on July 24, 1945. She requested that she be buried as close as possible to her great love, Michael Collins.

She is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, not far from where Collins lies and was joined there 16 years later by her husband Felix.

Also up for grabs at the auction is a cigar owned by former English prime minister Winston Churchill, given to his publisher, Newman Flower valued at between €1,000 and €1,500.

Winston Churchill’s cigar
Winston Churchill’s cigar

A limited edition lithograph of Mick Jagger, frontman of rock band the Rolling Stones, by Ronnie Woods is also going under the hammer for €1,500.

Other items include historical documents and artefacts, sporting memorabilia, film posters, rock and pop collectables as well as medals and militaria, edged weapons and firearms.

There are also coins with a valuable collection of James II “Gunmoney”, banknotes, rare books, early printed maps of Ireland, antique silverware and antique tribal masks from the Congo.

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