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Dublin: 13°C Friday 23 April 2021

Collins hair ‘withdrawn from auction’ after family reveals sadness at sale

A lock of Michael Collins’ hair is withdrawn from sale after members of his family say they believed the auction was inappropriate.

The lock of Michael Collins' hair, attached to a letter in the handwriting of his sister Kitty.
The lock of Michael Collins' hair, attached to a letter in the handwriting of his sister Kitty.
Image: Adams auctioneers

Updated, 21:41

A LOCK OF hair cut from the head of Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins has been withdrawn from an auction tomorrow after members of Collins’ family said they were “appalled” at plans to sell it.

RTÉ reports this evening that the vendor selling the item, which was due to go up for auction tomorrow, contacted Adams auction rooms in Dublin this afternoon to withdraw the item from sale.

The report says the hair is instead to be donated to the National Museum of Ireland.

The decision to withdraw it from sale came after Mary Banotti, a former MEP who is also Collins’ grand-niece, said members of her family believed the sale showed  ”disrespect and insensitivity” to Collins’ descendants.

Banotti told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that her family’s opinion was that the hair should be “interred with his bones in Glasnevin Cemetery, rather than going on public auction”.

The veteran politician, who served as a Fine Gael MEP for Dublin for 20 years from 1984, said artefacts like the lock of hair belonged “in museums or cemeteries” and not in the hands of private individuals.

“Several members of the family have been speaking to me about it, and they are universally upset about the whole thing, as a lack of respect for Collins’ family,” she had said.

Kieran O’Boyle from Adams auctioneers, who were to sell the hair tomorrow, said the lot was currently owned by someone who had been a friend of the Collins family in the 1950s.

The lock of hair was cut from Collins’ body by his sister Kitty as the Corkonian lay in state at City Hall in Dublin, given to their younger brother, and kept as a family keepsake. It was commonplace at the time for locks of hair to be kept as a memento of a deceased loved one.

The hair was to be among 650 lots offered for auction at Adams tomorrow, as part of a series of auctions of political, literary and historical artefacts.

“A public auction where they’re being charged at €4,000 or €5,000 is, in my opinion, not respectful of the items that are for sale,” Banotti had said.

Banotti had expressed fears that the hair could have ended up being displayed “in a back of a pub”.

Separately, a swab of cotton used to clean Collins’ corpse in Dublin is to be sold next week, plans which Banotti said were particularly upsetting and distasteful.

Read: Lock of Michael Collins’ hair to be auctioned

More: Washington defeats Michael Collins in ‘Britain’s toughest enemy’ poll

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Gavan Reilly

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