Where did Michael Collins really call home? Historians’ new theory
The house being restored as a Michael Collins Museum may not have been the Irish nationalist’s home according to new evidence, which suggests he may have actually lived a few doors away.
It has been long believed that 7 Shannon Square (now known as Emmett Square) Clonakilty, Cork was the residence of the Collins family and their youngest child Michael. There is a plaque outside the property stating that he once lived there.
It is currently being restored so that it can be turned into a Michael Collins Museum, as a celebration of Clonakilty’s most famous son.
However, three historians in Cork have uncovered evidence that indicates that Michael Collins never lived in that house. They believe he lived with his older sister Margaret and her husband Patrick O’Driscoll in number 13.
Vincent Allen, Michael O’Mahony and Tomás Tuipéar have studied records at the Land Valuation Office in Dublin. Tuipéar explained: “The numbers of the house on the Square were changed in 1896, which is recorded in the Town Valuation. We have a record of Patrick O’Driscoll, who was married to Collin’s sister Margaret, living in No 13 in what was then known as Shannon Square.”
Tuipéar agrees that number 7 is the most suitable site on the square for the museum, but insists that the correct details must be clear to visitors.
He said: “The museum is in the ideal place in the square. However, the narrative must show that Collins actually lived in No 13 and in Clogheen on the edge of Clonakilty.”
Cork County Council made the following statement: “At the time of the purchase [of number 7 Emmet Square], a plaque was in situ recording that Michael Collins had resided there with his sister. However, Cork County Council was aware that Michael Collins may have lived elsewhere on the square. There were a number of reasons for this, namely the numbering system on the square had been reversed around the turn of the 20th century and another house may have being included in the numbering system which is no longer in existence.
“Conclusive evidence is not available to confirm the exact O’Driscoll residence. Should this change, which would be very important from a historical perspective, and if required, Cork County Council would have no hesitation in relocating the plaque, subject to the present owner’s consent.”
Next year will see the one hundred year anniversary of the Easter Rising, which Collins took part in. He was spared execution but imprisoned. He later led the Irish nationalists in the War of Independence using his military skills to conduct a guerrilla warfare against the far better equipped British Army.
Collins then ended the War by signing the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which sparked a split in the IRA and a Civil War.
He was killed when his vehicle was ambushed in Co Cork in 1922.