A letter from the wife of a British nobleman describing Michael Collins as a man of “brilliancy as a romantic figure’ is to be auctioned in Dublin leading to renewed speculation they had an affair.
The Irish Times quotes from the letter from Lady Hazel Lavery which praises Collins for his ‘dignity, pride, wisdom, a wonderful beauty of character and qualities of statesmanship that only a few had begun to recognise’.
Lady Lavery added: “It is my greatest wish that something should be written about Michael that will be worthy of his greatness of mind and soul and that will show the world in the future, just what he meant in his life and death to the Irish people.”
The letter, written by Lady Lavery to a biographer just a few short years after the Rebel leader’s death, has come to light ahead of the sale of Collins memorabilia.
Lady Lavery, whose image featured on the first Irish bank notes, hosted Collins and his delegation at several dinners when they went to London to sign the Anglo-Irish treaty 90 years ago.
The Chicago born wife of artist Sir John Lavery also introduced Collins and his entourage to many high profile figures in post World War 1 England, including her close friend Winston Churchill.
She was described as "The Most Beautiful Girl in the Midwest" during her US days.
Rumours that Lady Lavery had an affair with Collins while he resided in London during the Anglo-Irish Treaty talks have never been substantiated.
She was clearly taken with Collins however to judge by the newly discovered letter which was sent to author General Piaras Beasley, a survivor of the 1916 Rising, when he began to write a biography of Collins after his murder in 1922.
She went on to describe Collins as: “A man of gay courage and brilliancy as a romantic figure.”
The Times reports that the four-page hand-written letter from Lady Lavery was sent to General Piaras Béaslaí, a veteran of the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence, as he worked on a biography of Collins.
Beasley published his book ‘Michael Collins and the Making of a New Ireland’ to wide acclaim in 1926.
Valued at between $1,500 and $3,000, the letter will be auctioned at Dublin’s D4 Berkeley Hotel by the Mealy’s firm on Tuesday.
The auctioneers say it is the first time they have come across such a letter from Lady Lavery, who died in 1935 at the age of 51.