Irish hero Michael Collins is still feeling the love of the Irish people 92 years after his death. The Big Fella, buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, in Dublin, is still getting Valentine’s Day cards.
Collins was only 31 years old, when he was assassinated at an ambush at Beal na Blath, County Cork, in 1922. Having had his life cut short, the Irish politician was never given the chance to marry his one true love and fiancee Kitty Kiernan.
It appears that romantic Ireland still worships his heroic status, as every Feb 14, the Irish hero receives Valentine wishes in the form of cards and flowers at his graveside from a host of Irish women still enchanted by the diplomat and Irish rogue who never grew old.
Historian Shane Mac Thomais at Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum says the cards were noticed when the museum opened in 2010 but Collins may have been getting love notes well before that.
“They say things like, ‘My darling Mick, love’, lots of x’s things like that. I would presume they’re from women, but you never know,” he laughs.
Mac Thomais says he has no idea if the cards come from the same people every year but he stresses cards sent through the post will not be placed on Collins’ grave.
“We just couldn’t do that — every week we have to clear his grave because of the sheer volume of cards and flowers. He gets Christmas wreaths too and notes throughout the year saying things like ‘You’re the best Irishman that ever lived.’ Collins has that status as a romantic leader and we find anytime we do anything about him online interest is huge.”
The Irish Examiner reports that Collin’s famous great grand niece Irish actress, “Ballykissangel” actress Dervla Kirwan says she is astonished that Collins gets Valentine’s cards but the Dublin woman is not surprised so many women find him attractive after all this time.
“He loved women, he knew how to talk to them and was clearly a very charismatic and sexual being,” says Kirwan.
“He was the closest thing we had to a movie star in Ireland at that time but unlike celebrities today who are everywhere, Collins still to this day maintains his mystique.”
Kirwan says she always believed Collins had “kindness”, an attractive quality to a woman no matter what their age.
Another well-known descendant, former Irish politician Nora Owen, is in agreement with Kirwan that Collins would have done more to further women’s interests had he lived, and that could be another reason why he is still held in high regard today.
“He respected women,” says Owen. “His sisters were strong women, as were his aunts with whom he stayed in London when he joined the civil service. He saw the work of women as being just as valuable as men’s. Of course he needed a network of women to give him information, but he didn’t see any difference between the sexes.”
Tour guide with Glasnevin cemeteries, Paddy Gleeson says for him Collins’s enduring appeal is obvious. “He’s our JFK as regards a romantic hero. There’s no other grave in Glasnevin Cemetery that gets anywhere near the attention as Michael Collins’ grave does.”
Nora owns also added that a new generation are enamoured by Collins is of no surprise “Scratch the surface and we all have somebody whom we think is special and exciting and Michael Collins was exciting. Young people are learning about him in school, doing projects on him, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets Valentine’s cards for many years to come.”
Kirwin still has great admiration for the Irish rogue “Sure, we’ll never know what happened between Collins and Kitty Kiernan, I’m sure he never would have pressed himself on women, or used his power. But he certainly understood women.”
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