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Michael Collins' diaries of daily life have been loaned to the State by his family

The diaries cover Collins’ day-to-day life, spanning the Civil War and the foundation of the State

Image: Gerard McCarthy

MEMBERS OF MICHAEL Collins’ family today presented the State with the Irish revolutionary’s diaries from the years 1918-1922. 

“These diaries tell the story of one of the most turbulent periods in our history,” said Taoiseach Micheál Martin at the event at Woodfield, the house where Michael Collins was born in Clonakilty, Co. Cork.

He added: “There are many new discoveries that will be revealed through the diaries which will now become part of the national collection at the National Archives.” 

Martin was accompanied by Arts and Culture Minister Catherine Martin, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, and the OPW Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan.

“This will allow the public, scholars, and researchers (to) learn much more about the events leading up to and following the foundation of the State,” Martin said. 

The diaries are of major historical importance particularly leading up to the centenary of Collins’ death in August 2022.

They provide the background for a key period in Michael Collins’ life, and that of the State, spanning the War of Independence, the Treaty Negotiations, and the Civil War.

Among the information never seen before, they contain historical details of often secret meetings, events, appointments, and other arrangements.

“As we approach the centenary of Michael Collins’ death in August 2022, there is a renewed and increased interest in him,” Coveney said at the event. 

“These diaries provide a unique insight into an extraordinary life and give details of events which have never before been made public,” he added. “This is a significant donation to the State from the Collins family and we thank them sincerely.” 

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Collins’ family members said: “We are honoured, on our father’s behalf, to hand over these historic records to An Taoiseach and to welcome him to Woodfield today, the birthplace of Michael Collins, which our Father lovingly reclaimed and preserved and gifted to the State in October 1990.”

The diaries will be on long-term loan at the National Archives. There, they will undergo conservation and preservation treatment, archival processing, and digitisation.

The National Archives will work with Cork County Council to provide local access to digitised copies of the diaries at Woodfield.

The original diaries will be returned from August 2022 to mark the centenary of Michael Collins’ death.

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