Over 90 years after his death, items associated with Michael Collins continue to come to light and attract interest from an extensive circle of admirers and collectors of historical memorabilia.
His letters have already sold for tens of thousands of euro; last year alone, his prayer book made €3,200 and a “wanted card” issued for him in 1921 by the British authorities, €4,000.
Most controversially, a lock of hair from his corpse and a medical swab used to clean his face were offered for sale although subsequently withdrawn. Is there anything new left? Well, yes, apparently.
Sheppard’s auctioneers in Durrow, Co Laois has announced that its forthcoming sale will include “the cutlery used by Michael Collins for his last meal”. The cheap, rusting set, of knife, fork and spoon, is mounted on a fraying banner decorated with embroidery featuring a shamrock motif, the Tricolour and a green flag adorned with a harp.
Auctioneer Philip Sheppard said the unusual item had been consigned by a vendor in Co Wexford who can trace its provenance "directly back to Kitty Kiernan, the fiancée of Michael Collins".
The cutlery was allegedly used by Collins when he dined, for the last time, in west Cork, at the Eldon Hotel in Skibbereen. He died in an ambush at Béal na mBláth later that day.
It appears that the cutlery was later presented to Ms Kiernan as a memento. She gave it to her sister Maud who married Gearóid O’Sullivan, the Irish Volunteer who raised the flag over the GPO during the Easter Rising. The item was inherited by the current owner in the 1990s.
Sheppard’s said the cutlery and banner need conservation work and have assigned the quirky lot an estimate of €800-€1,200. The auction takes place on Tuesday, April 30th.