We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Alamy Stock Photo
Michael Collins

Shillelagh and letters belonging to Michael Collins to go under the hammer at auction

An estimated price of €3,000 to €4,000 has been set for “The Big Fella’s Shillelagh”.

A SHILLELAGH WHICH belonged to Irish revolutionary Michael Collins will have an estimated price of €3,000 to €4,000 when it goes under the hammer at an auction in Dublin next week.

“The Big Fella’s Shillelagh” is for sale in Lot 577 at the Christmas Rare Books and Collectors’ Sale which takes place in the Talbot Hotel in Stillorgan on 6 and 7 December.

The heavy blackthorn shillelagh, which is around 18 inches in length, one-to-two inches thick and pierced for hanging formerly belonged to General Collins. The stick was given by a niece of Collins to a Dr John Nesfield, England who later gifted it to Dominic Collins in Co Wicklow.

A guide price of €2,000 to €3,000 is in place for Lot 582 which involves a collection of cryptic letters and notes written by Collins in London prior to The Treaty. The collection includes an envelope addressed in Collins’ hand to P O’Delaney, with a note signed MC saying, ‘Art knows who this is.’

The collection involves letters sent to Art O’Briain who was President of the Sinn Féin Council of Great Britain at the time. The auction also involves the sale of a postally used envelope addressed to Collins at a West Kensington address and a receipt issued to Collins for £3-2 shillings. A reference to ‘particulars’ in one of the letters strongly suggests there is an intelligence connotation.

1100067658_PREVIEW The shillelagh will have an estimated price of €3,000 to €4,000 when it goes under the hammer. Fonsie Mealy Fonsie Mealy

Meanwhile, an estimate of €3,000 to €5,000 has been set for the accounts for the Treaty Negotiations.

It entails a two-page transcript with manuscript notes in Michael Collins’ hand, accounts of London Envoy marked at head in pencil, ‘Copy/For Official Auditor,’ listing various accounts, allocations including Truce Negotiations account and Delegations. It is described as an “important file, from crucial days in the life of the nation.”

Another lot involves Michael Collins’ personal copy of Thom’s Official Directory, 1922, specially bound for him in full red Morocco gilt and with his name ‘M O Coileain,’ in gilt letters on the upper cover.

Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers say that it is an item which Collins must have consulted frequently in his successive capacities as Chairman of the Provisional Government, Minister for Finance and Commander in Chief of the Free State Army before his death in Beal na Blath on 22 August 1922.

“(It is) of the utmost rarity. Items which can be definitively certified as having belonged to Collins personally are extremely rare, since his lifestyle did not lend itself to accumulation of property. Its provenance is from the family of the late Michael Collins to the present vendor.”

1100067662_PREVIEW The collection of cryptic letters and notes were written by Collins in London prior to The Treaty. Fonsie Mealy Fonsie Mealy

An estimated price of €2,000 to €3,000 is in place for the “Big Fella’s Seal of Approval” which was his pocket seal with engraved letters M.C. It is understood that Collins was always in a hurry and this item may have been carried by him to seal official documents.

In non-Collins related items Lot 588 involves correspondence between Sinn Fein Founder Arthur Griffith and Donal O’Connor, circa 1901 to 1910, which throws some light on Griffith’s personal life.

There are about a dozen signed notes, letter and telegrams, some written in evident haste, some undated, some on scraps of paper. Some concern the affairs of Sinn Fein or its publications, one asks for advice about a business seeking extra capital, others suggest meeting for a swim or for a Turkish bath. One of the notes says that Griffith will be in the Bailey Public House that evening.

There is also a receipt for a loan of over £33, which was then a substantial sum, to Arthur Griffith from the Sinn Fein Co Operative People’s Bank, November 1919, and a letter to O’Connor from Griffith’s widow Maud commiserating on the death of his (second) wife.

Donal O’Connor was evidently a personal friend of Griffith, and also an advisor and accountant to his business ventures. He was at times Secretary of the Gaelic League and auditor to the GAA.

Further information on the auction can be obtained on Fonsie Mealy’s website.

Olivia Kelleher
Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel