Michael Collins was increasingly worried about the ‘mayhem’ in Ireland ahead of the British withdrawal days before the Civil War broke out and just months before his death.
A 1922 letter from Collins to his fiancée Kitty Kiernan has been donated to Ireland’s National Library after it was discovered in County Clare.
Sisters Joanne and Sheelah Corbett of Bunratty found the letter and the Irish Times reports that in an act of generous patriotism, they are donating it to the Dublin library.
In the letter, Collins voices his concerns about growing mayhem in the early months of 1922.
The Irishman’s Diary column in the Irish Times reports that as British forces withdrew from what was to become the Republic, armed opponents of the December 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty challenged the authority of the nascent Free State.
On April 10, 1922, Collins wrote to his fiancée, Kitty Kiernan: “Things are rapidly becoming as bad as they can be and the country has before it what may be the worst period yet.
“A few madmen may do anything. Indeed, they are just getting on the pressure gradually. They go on from cutting a tree to cutting a railway line, then firing at a barrack, then to firing at a lorry and so on.
“But God knows I do not want to be worrying you with these things.”
Kitty Kiernan was the fiance of Ireland's greatest hero during the War of Independence. They met in a hotel in Longford in 1917 and exchanged over 300 letters afterward as he was on the run much of the time.
They had set a wedding date, but Collins was tragically killed at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1922. Kiernan later married and had a son she called Michael after Collins. She died in 1945 and is buried not far from him in Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin.
The Irish Times says the letter was discovered in Clare probably because the Corbetts' father, Ernest, played a huge role in the War of Independence.
Ireland’s Civil War broke out just four days after Collins wrote the letter when an anti-Treaty force under Rory O’Connor seized the Four Courts.
Collins was shot dead in an ambush in his native Cork on August 22, 1922.
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* Originally published in January 2014.