Michael Collins' childhood to be remembered in 'Young Fella' documentary

Programme coincides with centenary of the burning of his Cork family home
Michael Collins' childhood to be remembered in 'Young Fella' documentary

Michael Collins Museum in Clonakilty funded the production with Cork County Council. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A new documentary, which for the first time will focus on the life of freedom-fighter Michael Collins as a boy, is to be released on April 16, to coincide with the centenary of the burning of his Co Cork family home by the British.

Collins was known as the 'Big Fella' and much is widely known about his adult life. However, the new documentary, The Young Fella, explores the key events and influences of his formative years and uncovers the deeper story of Michael Collins.

Directed by Clonakilty native Samuel Kingston ( The Brigade) it was funded by Cork County Council and Michael Collins House Museum in Clonakilty.

It is centred around a group of six secondary school students who go on a journey to discover the local history of Collins.

The personal items of Michael Collins on display at the Clonakilty museum. Picture Dan LInehan

The personal items of Michael Collins on display at the Clonakilty museum. Picture Dan LInehan

He was 16 when he left Clonakilty for London, the same age as the students who reflect on life now and life then and help to get a sense of what life was like then for the young Collins.

“His familial circumstances were slightly unusual in that his father was quite an old man. He was 61 when he married his 23-year-old neighbour, Marianne O’Brien,” Michael Collins House museum general manager Jamie Murphy said.

“Although he died when Collins was just six, this educated man may have left a rebel mark upon his youngest child, Michael, as some sources claim he'd been a Fenian in his youth. 

"It seems that he and his father were very close and Collins could apparently remember many of his father’s stories for the rest of his life."

After her husband's death, Collins’ mother was thrust into the management of their farm and it was a role in which she excelled.

The family appeared to have become quite wealthy as she managed to educate her children, including Michael, to a very high standard.

His brother-in-law, Patrick O’Driscoll, would have assumed an almost father-like figure to the maturing Collins. 

"O’Driscoll was a fiery character, who had worked as a journalist and editor of a number of prominent nationalist newspapers in Cork before launching his own local paper which was in print during Collins time was under their roof,” Mr Murphy said.

Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions it's expected that the documentary will be launched in an online format and will premier on the Michael Collins House YouTube channel. It will later be made available through other media outlets.

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