Hair from corpse of Michael Collins to be auctioned in Dublin
IS NOTHING sacred? Macabre mementos of the death of Michael Collins have come to light: a lock of hair taken from the dead leader’s head and a cotton swab used to clean his corpse are among the items being offered for sale at specialist auctions of Irish historical memorabilia later this month.
Auctioneers Adam’s of St Stephen’s Green, Dublin, is to sell “an envelope containing a lock of tangled brown hair” which is inscribed “Hair of head of Michael Collins when laid in State in the City Hall August 1922”.
The souvenir was owned by Kitty Collins Sheridan (Collins’s elder sister) who gave it to a friend in the late 1950s. The vendor’s name has not been disclosed. Adam’s expects the item will sell for up to €5,000 at its auction titled “800 Years – Irish Political, Military and Literary History” on April 18th .
Collins was shot dead at Béal na mBláth in west Cork during the Civil War 90 years ago on the evening of August 22nd, 1922. The fatal bullet had struck his head. Comrades brought his body to Dublin by sea on board the steamship Classic.
Collins’s body was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital to be embalmed by a team of pathologists before being removed to lie in state at Dublin City Hall.
Auctioneers Mealy’s said that a framed swab of lint and cotton wool used to clean Collins’s face was kept by a nurse, Nessie Rogan, who worked at St Vincent’s Hospital. It has been passed down though her family.
It is to be sold in an auction titled “Ireland’s Struggle – Irish and Republican Memorabilia” in Dublin on April 25th and has a pre-sale estimate of €450-€600.
The growing cult of Michael Collins is evidenced by the sheer volume of memorabilia coming on to the market just months ahead of the 90th anniversary of his death.
Among other items in the Adam’s auction is a photograph showing Collins standing on an ironwork balcony, said to be at No. 10 Downing Street, where he negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, and a letter from a priest to Collins’s sister Celestine (a nun), describing him as “one of Ireland’s hidden saints” .