Michael Collins' Communion photo unearthed in popular Dublin pub? Is this one of the earliest known photos of the Little Big Fellow

Frank Collins is the Sales Director for IrishCentral.com and a cousin of General Michael Collins. A friend of his went to Johnny Foxes Pub in the Dublin Mountains and came across a photo on a wall with this caption:

“Michael Collins and His Cousin Making Their Holy Communion.”

It showed two boys in their Communion suits. The one on the right bears a remarkable resemblance to Michael Collins. Frank Collins wondered if the boy on the left was his grandfather, Patrick Collins, General Collins’ first cousin once removed?

Michael Collins' Communion photograph.

Michael Collins' Communion photograph.

The earliest known photo of Michael Collins was taken at the age of six. He is posing with his brother Patrick, sister Mary, grandmother Mrs. O’Brien, and mother Marianne. In the Communion photo, Collins appears to be around ten or 12.

“We discovered that in 1910,” Frank Collins wrote, “Pope Pius X issued a decree Quam Singulari, which changed the age at which First Communion is taken to 7-years-old. Previously, local standards had been 10 to 12  years old. So that makes Michael Collins 10-12 years old in the photo. So it would have been taken around 1900-1902.”

If you compare the Communion photo to photos of Collins taken 20 years later, there is a remarkable resemblance, especially around the mouth, eyes, and ears. 

But the question remained—was that Frank Collins’ grandfather in the photo with the little Big Fellow? “Patrick Collins, my Granddad,” said Frank Collins, “as it transpires, although close friends and cousin of Michael Collins, was actually in the class behind him. And was not in that historic photo of Michael Collins. While disappointed not to have uncovered a family photo of our granddad with Michael Collins, it is none-the-less a rarely seen photo of Michael Collins with his cousin Michael O’Brien, a photo the O’Brien clan may not have been aware exists.”

Mystery solved—and the legend of Michael Collins continues to grow 97 years after his death.

Read more: The man who witnessed Michael Collins' death on this day in 1922

* Dermot McEvoy is the author of The 13th Apostle: A Novel of Michael Collins and the Irish Uprising and Our Lady of Greenwich Village, both now available in paperback, Kindle, and Audio from Skyhorse Publishing. He may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him at www.dermotmcevoy.com. Follow The 13th Apostle on Facebook at www.facebook.com/13thApostleMcEvoy.