The home and workplace of rebel leader Michael Collins, in Clonakilty, Cork, is being converted into a museum dedicated to the “Big Fella’s” life and Ireland’s struggle for independence from 1798 onwards.
The house, number 7 Emmet Square, is being painstakingly restored by Cork County Council. The Georgian Square is one of the few of its type outside of Dublin and dates from between 1785 and 1810.
Collins was born near Clonakilty, on October 16, 1890. He moved in with his sister Margaret, at 7 Emmet Square, while he attended the Clonakilty Boys’ National School from October 1903 to February 1906. His sister’s husband, Patrick O’Driscoll published a local newspaper, The West Cork People, and Collins become a reporter covering local events.
In 1906 Collins left Cork for a job with the post office in London.
Until 1981 the house was used as a private residence. It was then used as a solicitor’s office. Two years ago it was purchased by the local town council.
A spokesperson for the council said, “The project will restore the house to its former glory and will give the visitor a view of what the house was like in its Georgian splendor. Conservation work has been carried out very sympathetically and the main body of the house has now been restored.”
The Michael Collins House Museum will tell the 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
- Michael Collins covering the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War.
The Georgian house will also contain an audio-visual room and a print room, which will cover the history of The West Cork People.
The City Council spokesperson also told the Irish Examiner, “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 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.
The square was originally laid out to accommodate wealthy merchants and called Shannon Square, after the Earls of Shannon.
The Kennedy Gardens at the center of the square, which were renovated in 2013, are named for the former president of the USA John F Kennedy, who had family from the area.
Collins and the Kennedys are not the only historic figures linked to the square:
- number 4: Where Mr O’Cleary hosted Eamonn De Valera.
- number 5: The meeting place for the Plymouth Brethren.