Memorial to Michael Collins unveiled on anniversary

Soldiers of Cathal Brugha Barracks finance memorial at site of image taken shortly before killing

Thu, Aug 22, 2013, 12:03

A plaque in memory of Michael Collins was unveiled today to mark the 91st anniversary of his killing on August 22nd, 1922.

Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Lt Gen Conor O’Boyle carried out the unveiling in honour of the first commander in chief of the national Army.

The memorial is situated at the location where an iconic image of the General walking through Cathal Brugha Barracks in Dublin with a young piper, Alphonsus Culloten, was taken.

The photograph was taken as he returned from a memorial service on August 7th, 1922, not long before his death.

Barracks barber Pte Noel O’Donnell personally researched the background to the photograph with the assistance of the Barrack Engineer Section and Military Archives, as the photo had hung in his barber shop for many years.

“Today is the finish of two years work. I’m very happy. It’s a good day and a dream come through. The photo is the most iconic photo there is of General Collins,” he said.

Pte O’Donnell has a number of Mr Collins’ personal belongings in his barber shop, including Collins’ keys to the magazine fort and what he believes was Collins’ prayer book, which was handed down over four generations of military personnel.

The exact location where the image was taken was determined as the site for the memorial, financed by the soldiers of Cathal Brugha Barracks, which meant a lot to Mr Collins’ grand-niece Helen Collins.

“I was totally struck that the whole idea came from the garrison themselves and that they had collected the money. To me, that was very important. It was personal,” she said.

“I just found the whole event today really lovely and quite emotional. It makes me feel very strongly connected to Michael Collins.”

Speaking at the ceremony, Lt Gen O’Boyle said: “I wish to commend the men and women of Cathal Brugha Barracks on proposing and establishing such an appropriate and fitting memorial to our first commander in chief.

“It reaffirms the Defence Forces’ enduring loyalty and commitment to the memory of General Michael Collins, and this memorial is very much a tangible example of that, planned, funded and erected by the soldiers of this historic barracks in his memory.”

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