Letter betraying Michael Collins may fetch up to €3,000 at auction

Mon, Mar 4, 2013, 00:00

The original letter written by an informer betraying Michael Collins to the British authorities in Dublin Castle has come to light and will be auctioned in Dublin next month.

Adam’s auctioneers said the document, although known to historians, had never been published in full. Dated November 11th, 1919, the letter was signed by “H Quinlisk”, a former corporal in the Royal Irish Regiment, from 21 Gardiner Place, Dublin and was sent to the Under Secretary at Dublin Castle.

He wrote: “I was the man who assisted Casement in Germany, and in coming home I have been connected with Sinn Féin. I have decided to tell all I know of that organisation and my information would be of use to the authorities. The scoundrel Michael Collins has treated me scurvily . . .”

The War of Independence was under way and Collins, with a £10,000 reward on his head, was the most wanted man in the British Empire.

Harry Timothy Quinlisk, the Co Wexford-born son of an RIC constable, joined Roger Casement’s Irish Brigade while a prisoner of war in Germany.

His betrayal was apparently prompted by Collins’s refusal to bankroll his gambling habit.


But his letter to the British authorities was intercepted by Collins’s spy inside Dublin Castle and the IRA set a trap for Quinlisk. He was picked up by IRA volunteers at Ballyphehane and his body, riddled with seven bullets, was later found in a field.

Adam’s estimated the letter might fetch up to €3,000 when auctioned on April 16th.