Michael Collins: His Childhood, Family & Early Influences

Michael Collins: His Childhood, Family & Early Influences

Researched & Written by Cal McCarthy

Michael Collins has been the subject of more biography than any other figure from the Irish revolutionary period. Yet his multiple biographies tend to deal extensively with the last third of his life while confining his formative years to the periphery. Those who wish to understand his youth are limited by the lack of source material and confined to the recorded recollections of those who knew Collins as a boy. Such recollections have been repeated and re-asserted without extensive attempts to verify their validity. This article will examine the recollections of Collins’s friends and family members with reference to primary source material. It will reveal previously unpublished details of the family into which Collins was born, and in so doing, construct a fuller biography of the immediate family members and closer friends who were very likely to have exerted formative influence on Michael Collins during his childhood and teenaged years.

Michael Collins was born on 16 October 1890 in a townland called Woodfield between Clonakilty and Rosscarbery in west Cork. He was the son of Michael John Collins and Marry Ann Collins (nee O’Brien). Theirs was an unusual marriage in that Michael John was 61 years old when he married his 23-year-old neighbour, Mary Ann O’Brien in 1876. It has been suggested that she may have been his goddaughter but that was not the case.[1] From the documentary evidence it seems likely that O’Brien was already pregnant with the couple’s first child when they were wed.[2] Considering this child, Margaret, by the time of her death in 1945, considered herself to be a year younger than the evidence suggests, might be a measure of how controversial pre-marital conception was during the course of her lifetime.[3] Whatever the reasons for their union all of the available evidence suggests that Michael Collins’s parents’ marriage was robust, or even happy. After extensive consultation with the Collins family during the preparation of his biography, Piaras Béaslaí declared the union (which he erroneously claimed to have happened in 1875) ‘a very happy one.’[4] In their extant memoirs neither one of Collins’s sisters declared their parent’s marriage either happy or sad, though both referred to the happiness of their family. The eldest son of the marriage, John, later declared the marriage of his parents ‘an alliance between themselves.’[5] Hayden Talbot did not record any comment by Collins regarding the happiness of his parent’s marriage.[6]

The Collins family had farmed 122 acres in the townland of Paulbeg in 1788.[7] This was just one year after Maurice Collins, like many other Roman Catholics discriminated against by the Penal Laws, swore an oath of allegiance to the King in order to qualify for enhanced rights.[8] By 1833 Woodfield had subsumed Paulbeg and the western part of Ballyvackey[9] and in 1849 valuers noted that the leases on the largest Collins holdings then in Woodfield were approximately 60 years old.[10] This seems to indicate that Maurice Collins’s oath may have been the stimulus for the late eighteenth century Collins family lease. James, Maurice and John Collins (Michael Collins’s Grandfather) took a similar oath in 1794.[11] In 1833 there were five Collins holdings in Woodfield. The largest two were farmed by James Collins and Jeremiah Collins and consisted of 37 and 22 acres respectively. The other three holdings consisted of 24.5 acres between them.[12] It seems that the family had lost a considerable portion of its land and subdivided what remained. This was a decade before the onset of the famine and Michael Collins’s father did not farm his own plot at that time. By the time of Griffith’s Valuation the site on which Michael Collins was later born, was rented from Lady Carbery by an uncle of his, Patrick Collins. It is likely that he had taken over the 37 acre plot from James Collins, who was married and had started a family in nearby Caherbeg by 1845.[13] Patrick Collins also rented an additional 16 acres in the townland of Woodfield. Griffiths Valuation identified his land in six plots, 18a, b, c, d, e, and f. They were centred on a large holding near the family home, and another holding approximately one kilometre northeast of there.[14] 

In 1833 there had been 39 holdings with an average size of 15.6 acres in Woodfield.[15] By 1851 the number of holdings had fallen to 31 and their average size had increased to 19.3 acres.[16] Woodfield had seen its population reduced by 30% from 282 in 1841 to 197 in 1851.[17] Given the dispersal of Patrick Collins’s land into six separate plots it seems likely that he had added some of the plots vacated during the famine to his holding. By the time of Michael Collins’s youth the 26 acres forming the three plots that Griffiths Valuation had identified as 13 a, b and c, and had been farmed by another family, were added to the Collins farm. The land was now in seven separate plots east and west of the road between Sam’s Cross and Bealad.[18] In 1891, just five days before his death, Patrick Collins made his will and bequeathed his ‘two farms in east and west Woodfield’ (or more accurately their lease) to his brother Michael. These ‘two farms in west and east Woodfield’ were bequeathed by Michael Collins senior to his wife Mary Ann, in 1897.[19] Michael Collins senior held the lease for only six years, not much longer than he had known his son, Michael. But although he worked as a carpenter, and not a farmer, before his marriage, it seems that he lived at Woodfield throughout his lifetime.[20] He saw the changes that famine and emigration had brought. Those changes were written on the boundary ditches of the scattered land that the young Michael Collins farmed.

Michael Collins’s mother Mary Ann O’Brien was born in the adjoining townland of Tullineaskey in 1856. Her father, James, farmed 53 acres there in the aftermath of the famine.[21] Michael Collins’s brother John Collins later remembered that his grandparents on his mother’s side had come from the parish of Ardfield and that they were connected with a well-known family called Murray.[22] One of Collins’s sisters remembered that her mother’s grandmother’s maiden name was Murray.[23] We know that Michael Collins’s eldest uncle on his mother’s side was Daniel.[24] Thus, it is likely that his mother’s grandfather was also Daniel. The only such man recorded in the Roman Catholic parish registers of Ardfield Rathbarry was married to Mary Murray and in August of 1823, they baptised their third son, James.[25] While the family retained its holding at Carrigroe in Rathbarry, James O’Brien married Johanna McCarthy in January 1850 and the couple baptised their first child while resident on a farm near Sam’s Cross, in Tullineasky in 1851.[26] It is not certain how James came to be a tenant farmer in Tullineasky. It is worth noting that Danial and Jeremiah Brian each farmed 48 acres in Tullineasky in 1833.[27] They may have been relatives of James O’Brien, though it is clear that his 53 acre holding is different in size to either of theirs. It is perhaps more likely that James O’Brien came to inherit the same plot that had been farmed by Thomas Murray in 1833 as descendants of the O’Brien family were told that the Sam’s Cross holding was originally a Murray farm.[28] Before the famine Tullineasky consisted of 18 holdings averaging 34 acres in size. By 1853 Tullineasky East and Tullineasky West were home to 16 farms averaging 39 acres in size.[29] James O’Brien worked his own farm of 53 acres while his father had shared a similar sized holding with at least one other brother.[30] Like the Collins family, and many other Irish farming families, the O’Briens had experienced the tragedy of the famine and expanded their comparative wealth as a result of the population decline.

Like most of the children of late nineteenth century Ireland, Michael Collins grew up surrounded by the legacy of the famine. Because his father was older than most fathers of boys his age, Michael Collins had a parent that remembered how it had changed Woodfield and the townlands that surrounded it. Michael Collins was particularly close to his father. Hayden Talbot wrote that the rebel leader credited his father with the development of what he considered his reverential character. He also claimed that Collins had said; ‘All my early life I lived in childish wonder of my father. Although I was a lad of seven when he died, he had already inspired me with implicit faith in his goodness, his strength, his infallibility. I remember as if it were yesterday an instance of my faith. It proved that I could not conceive anything of his doing that was not altogether right.’[31]

On its own the above passage might be dismissed as an invention of Talbot’s, or a romantic reminiscence of Collins. But it is corroborated by other sources. Michael Collins’s sister Mary remembered her father as an austere man who she was afraid to be mean around. She also recalled that from ‘the time Michael could walk he accompanied my father who, in his quiet way, told him how to become a man … In later years Michael told me that he had no recollection of our father’s appearance but that he remembered many things he had told him about the “bad times” and how the land ought to belong to the people.’[32] Another of his sisters, Helena Collins, remembered that ‘Michael, naturally, was idolised by my father, and learnt much from him, though he was only six years and five months old when he died.’[33]

It is clear that Michael Collins Senior had a formative influence on his son. Thus, in attempting to understand the latter, there is some benefit in outlining what we know of the former. We have examined the times he lived through and the changes he witnessed, but what do we know of the man himself? Michael Collins Senior was born in Woodfield in July of 1815.[34] Local genealogists have stated that he was one of seven sons of John Collins and Margaret Sullivan and his daughter would later claim that he was the seventh son of a seventh son and had consequential healing powers. She also stated that her father was said to be the sixth generation of her family born at Woodfield.[35] The written record described above indicates that he was at least the third generation. Béaslaí was the first to assert that Michael Collins senior was a ‘remarkable father’.[36] He described him as a farmer, a builder, a skilled carpenter, ‘a classical scholar with a good knowledge of Greek, Latin and French’ and a ‘strong bent for mathematics.’[37] His academic pedigree was said to have been attained in a hedge school at the hands of a cousin who had been an acquaintance of Wolfe Tone’s.[38] Michael Collins’s brother John lent that story some credibility during an interview with his grandson in 1963. He had heard that a man called O’Sullivan, a brother of his grandmother, ‘a marvellous linguist’, a ‘professor of Greek in Louvain’ and ‘a well-known emissary of Tone’s’[39] had done much of the teaching in the Woodfield area.[40] John Collins couldn’t ‘exactly explain where he (O’Sullivan) had got his education.’[41] It certainly seems peculiar that a Roman Catholic could have been educated to such a degree in eighteenth century Ireland. However a special O’Sullivan bursary had been established in Louvain in the late seventeenth century with an M. O’Sullivan as its beneficiary in 1782.[42] John and Michael Collins’s grandmother’s maiden name was O’Sullivan.[43] Thus, while the story may have changed in its telling some of its details correspond with known reality.

Whatever the extent of his education, Michael Collins Senior’s profession was recorded as a carpenter when his marriage was registered in February 1876. [44]  By the time of the birth of his first child in August, his profession was recorded as farmer, which indicates that his marriage led to his working fulltime on the farm leased by his brother Paddy. [45]

Some of Collins’s biographers have suggested that Michael Collins Senior had been a member of the Fenian Brotherhood but had not taken up arms in the rebellion of 1867.[46] Although the IRB was a secret organisation there is some evidence to corroborate this suggestion. A man called Michael Collins was arrested for marching in formation near Milltown (approximately 2kms from the Collins homestead) in 1865.[47] Michael Collins senior was then 42 years old, so it is also possible that the man in question was one of two of his nephews who shared his name. One of those nephews was born at nearby Coolcraheen and came to be Collins senior’s ‘favourite nephew.’[48] That nephew had a brother called Maurice, who was arrested and imprisoned for being under arms in faraway Drogheda during the Fenian rebellion. The prison registrar recorded his address as Woodfield, County Cork.[49] Mary Collins later remembered her father working with his nephews in her youth.[50] Maurice Collins died before Mary Collins was born so he was not one of the nephews to whom she referred.[51] But her memoir confirms that the Collins nephews frequently worked with their uncles at Woodfield. It is therefore possible that the Fenian imprisoned in Drogheda gave his address as Woodfield, because he had come to live with his uncles at Woodfield prior to the marriage of Michael senior.

Michael Collins senior and his brothers seem to have enjoyed a reasonable relationship with their landlord, Lord Carbery. The British peer gave one of the brothers, Maurice, a recommendation for joining the R.I.C. in 1832.[52] It is not likely that he would have done so, had he considered the Collins brothers troublesome or disloyal. Two decades later, in the middle of the famine, the loyalty of the Collins brothers might have been called into question. Several of Michael Collins’s biographers have asserted that two of his uncles went to prison as a result of an altercation with a ‘squireen’ who they claimed had been trampling their crops.[53] The source of this information appears to have been the Mary Collins Powell Memoir.[54] The story is corroborated by the Cork County Gaol Register of 1853 in which both Patrick and Thomas Collins of Woodfield were recorded as inmates convicted of ‘malicious assault.’[55] They were convicted at Clonakilty Petty Sessions, but unfortunately no details of their case survive in either newspaper accounts or official records. The case was the subject of a memorial to the Chief Secretary and he referred it back to Bandon Sessions. In February 1853, the men were ‘released by order of government’.[56] The memorial was entered on the Chief Secretary’s index of registered correspondence but the document is no longer extant.[57] Although Forester claimed the incident had happened in 1850, and official records confirm that the conviction happened in 1852, the corroboration of the gaol register confirms that the men were imprisoned. Thus, the assertion that Collins’s father regularly rode to Cork to visit his brothers in prison, is very likely to be true.[58] It is equally likely that he imparted his memory of that time to his son.

All but one of Michael Collins’s bachelor uncles on the Collins side, were dead before his birth.[59] The surviving brother was the original manager of the Woodfield holding, Patrick (Paddy). One of Michael Collins’s sisters later claimed that upon seeing baby Michael Collins her uncle declared; ‘Be careful of this child for he will be a great and mighty man when we are all forgotten.’[60] While such a statement might easily be dismissed as a romanticised recollection many years after the event, it might also be considered that many uncles may have said such things about their nephews with few of their doting premonitions proving in any way prophetic. Another sister erroneously claimed that Paddy Collins died before Collins was born, but this is not true. Paddy Collins died some nine months after his nephew’s birth.[61] This erroneous recollection of her uncle’s death came from the same sister who also stated that her dying father had been referring to her famous brother when he declared; ‘Mind that child, he’ll be a great man yet, and will do great things for Ireland.’[62] This could be an accurate recording of the words of her dying father for his youngest and most beloved child. It may also be a misremembrance of the words spoken by her old and feeble uncle (whom she erroneously remembered as dead) after the birth of her brother.

By the time of Michael Collins’s youth, his father’s politics seem to have been moderate. ‘He never sang rebel songs’[63] recalled one of his daughters before recording that his favourite song was James Orr’s The Irishman. Orr’s song certainly doesn’t fall into the overtly rebel category, but it did evoke a sense of Irish national pride and was written by a United Irishman. Mary Collins Powell’s memoir offered greater insight into her father’s moderation by recording the story of his lending a winnowing machine to a locally boycotted Rector and receiving a beating from a relative for his generosity.

Some time before this I began to realise that there was such a thing as boycotting. My father had been beaten up by a very near relation of his for lending some farmyard machinery to the local Protestant Minister who had been boycotted for taking the farm of an evicted tenant. My father said that only the week before he had sent one of the children who had been severely burnt, to the Minister and that the child had been tenderly cared for and he pointed out that it was not long before that the same thing had happened in the case of his attacker’s child. His cousin beat him severely and threatened to boycott him. My father had, I feel, great moral courage for he lent the winnowing machine the very next day but as I am sure he felt that the boycotters had a case he built the machine into the barn which was then being erected, so nobody ever borrowed the machine again.[64]

Collins Powell’s memoir is corroborated by two other sources. Her sister Helena was born in 1883 and later wrote that as a baby she ‘was very badly burnt from an iron fender (red hot) which always surrounded the open fireplace.’[65] It is also evident that the local Church of Ireland Minister at nearby Castleventry became embroiled in a bitter dispute with locals when he occupied the farm of an evicted tenant in 1889. The case was a particularly ugly one and caused considerable resentment in the locality. The landlord made two separate attempts to evict the Donovan family from a farm having refused their offer to settle rent arrears on a phased basis. A very elderly man who lived with his son and son’s family on the farm, was reportedly too ill to be evicted at the first attempt, and almost died during the fracas surrounding the second attempt.[66] Several men, including former tenants and a local doctor, were imprisoned for protests at the property in the wake of the eviction, with some of those protests involving local Roman Catholic clergy.[67] The farm was placed in the hands of a body called the Defence Union and worked under the supervision of the local Church of Ireland Minister while threats involving various degrees of vandalism and the killing of animals continued.[68] As winter turned to spring locals brought their own equipment to the farm and tilled the land on behalf of the evicted tenants.[69] It was clear that the locality objected strenuously to the supervision of the local Minister and thus, it is very likely that anybody assisting in his agricultural practice at that location would have placed themselves in grave danger. For whatever reason, Michael Collins senior was willing to overlook all of this and lend his equipment to the cleric in question. Though it was a decision he seems to have come to regret, his making it in the first place reveals an independence of mind, and an unwillingness to unquestioningly support political extremism. If indeed he had been a Fenian in his younger years, the older man that reared Michael Collins, who was born just one year after the drama with the Minister began, was a more politically reserved character.

Collins was just six years old when his father died, and so his dominant parental influence became his mother. She herself had been rearing eight younger siblings since her father died in her eighteenth year. According to Coogan, Collins’s mother ‘had had to care for her many brothers and sisters from her middle teens when her father was killed and her mother injured after their horse shied, throwing them out of their trap as they returned one evening from a funeral.’[70] Though Coogan does not confirm his source, it is assumed that the information is drawn from source material lent to him by the Collins family, as Helena Collins’s memoir records a similar story.[71] The story is confirmed by a contemporary source however. The West Cork Eagle reported that ‘Timothy O’Brien, brother to the Rev. Mr. O’Brien, R.C.C., was killed at Sam’s Cross, near Clonakility, near his dwelling, by his horse running away, and throwing himself and his wife out of the cart. He was killed, and little hopes are entertained of his wife’s recovery.’[72] Although the report gives O’Brien the wrong name (his name was James), it is a useful confirmation of a family story. Its pessimistic tone with regard to Collins’s grandmother was unwarranted. She lived to the ripe old age of 90, passing away on Christmas Day 1916.[73] The accident may have left its mark as she was later described as ‘innocent and guileless’ but beloved of all the Collins children.[74]

Like her husband, Collins’s mother appears to have been a politically moderate woman. Mary Collins Powell remembered her mother singing traditional songs while milking the cows. One such song was the ‘Curses of Sullivan Beare’s Nurse,’ a song referring to the execution of Morty Oge O’Sullivan Beare after his killing of a British revenue official.[75] While the song might be said to have some vague anti-authoritarian sentiment, the real villain of its verses was the man who betrayed O’Sullivan Beare. She also regularly recited O’Donovan Rossa’s ‘Jillen Andy,’ an emotionally charged poem recalling Rossa’s assistance in the famine burial of a neighbour near Skibbereen.[76] But Mary Ann Collins’s interest in vaguely nationalist songs and poems does not seem to have extinguished her ambition for her family. She would not teach them as much as a word of the Irish language, even though she knew it well. Indeed, she and her husband used the language to converse secretly in the presence of their children.[77] At least five of her siblings had emigrated (four to Britain, one to Australia[78]) and her reluctance to embrace the Irish language may have been borne of her early acceptance that her own children would emigrate too. This proved to be the case as Collins and three of his siblings emigrated to Britain and America.

Growing up in Mary Ann Collins’s household, Michael Collins was certainly exposed to hard work and ambition from his earliest moments. Both of his sisters mention the hard work on the Collins farm. Collins’s father was 75 years old when he was born and Mary specifically stated that her mother ‘carried the heaviest burden.’[79] While there is nothing unusual in women of their generation describing the hard work of their youth, there is at least one measure that indicates that the work of Collins family may have produced more wealth than that of their neighbours. That measure came in the form of a very fine farmhouse which began construction in April 1899 and was concluded just after Collins’s tenth birthday.[80] The Collins family then began to refer to their address as ‘Woodfield House.’[81] The 1901 census indicates that the new Collins house was the largest in the townland, and that the family had more farm buildings than any of their neighbours.

Like many of her generation, Michael Collins’s mother was a religious woman making regular pilgrimages to a local well after her daughter’s burning accident hindered her taking her first steps.[82] She had several clerics in her family. Perhaps seeking stability for her youngest child she encouraged Collins to take the civil service exams stating that ‘he is head of the class and I am afraid he will get into mischief.’[83] It is little wonder that she favoured public service as several of her own (O’Brien) family had attained stable employment in the service of the Crown. Her brother James sat the civil service exams in 1882.[84] Her sister Johanna was a teacher who had married a revenue officer and lived in Edinburgh while another sister Annie (Nan) worked in the London Stock Exchange before joining the Department of Agriculture.[85]

Another of Collins’s aunts, Ellen O’Brien, was also a teacher and reared quite an interesting family of her own. Born in 1863, Ellen was seven years younger than Mary Ann.[86] Having qualified as a teacher she moved to London, and there married John Patrick Twohig, a clerk in the Admiralty.[87] In a move that seems to have been particularly modern, she and her children then adopted the name ‘O’Brien Twohig.’ The O’Brien Twohig family returned to Ireland in 1892 when John Patrick was transferred to the National Education Office in Dublin.[88] She listed her birthplace as Dublin in the 1911 census and was not overtly among the mourners listed by the Skibbereen Eagle as being present at her mother’s funeral.[89] She was among the attendees at Michael Collins’s funeral in August 1922 and was listed as an aunt.[90] Part of the reason that O’Brien Twohig isn’t generally stitched in to the Collins narrative, might be that the family appears to have been heavily unionist.

The eldest of the O’Brien Twohig children was Michael Joseph. Born in London, he had returned to Ireland when his father was transferred to the National Education Office. Then, in the Spring of 1914, O’Brien Twohig arrived in London to interview for a position in the Colonial Office. His first cousin, Michael Collins, took him to purchase a bowler hat that he insisted O’Brien Twohig wear for the interview.[91] O’Brien Twohig was appointed a clerk in the Colonial Office but war intervened. Captain Michael Joseph O’Brien Twohig was wounded while fighting with the British at Gallipoli in 1915.[92] After the war he worked in the Foreign Office receiving a posting as a magistrate on a Kenyan nature reserve. He disliked this posting enough to write to Michael Collins in March 1922 seeking employment as diplomat in the embryonic Free State. In the same letter he also asks whether his brother Alfie might be employed by any Irish naval force that may come into being.[93] It seems that he was partially successful in this endeavour as he received a commission in the Free State army shortly thereafter and served during the Civil War.[94] Demobilised from that service, he returned to Britain and served as officer in charge of troops aboard the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth liners during the Second World War. [95] He later attained the rank of Colonel, returned to the service of the Foreign Office in London, and even wrote a book about his experiences as a Diplomatic Courier and Superintendent of the Queen’s Messenger Service.[96] His brother Alfred O’Brien Twohig served in the Royal Navy before being appointed to the Commissioners of Irish Lights and later becoming Harbourmaster, of Dublin Port.[97] A third brother from that family, J.P., was also a career soldier and became particularly prominent when he served the Crown with the Royal Iniskilling Fusiliers during the Italian campaign in the Second World War.[98] Yet another of Collins’s cousins on the O’Brien side, Denis O’Brien, served the Crown in the Australian army and was decorated with the Distinguished Conduct Medal during the First World War.[99]

There is no evidence that the service these men rendered to the Crown had any impact on Michael Collins’s development or thinking. In his youth, he was close to Michael O’Brien Twohig who had spent some time in Woodfield as a child. Writing to Michael Collins, O’Brien Twohig later recalled ‘the days you would insist on running the show at Woodfield when we were kids, even to holding the pike when we endeavoured to “spear salmon.”’[100] The omission of such a notable character from the various Collins biographies is interesting. The narrative that Michael Collins had a father who may have been a Fenian and grew up in a nationalist family has been repeated as a cornerstone of a typical nationalist biography. That he had a cousin working in the British Foreign Office while he negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty, and that he had assisted that cousin in obtaining a post in the civil service in the first place, may have been considered less fitting of this narrative, even if O’Brien Twohig’s correspondence made it clear that the two men had no form of contact during the treaty negotiations.[101]  If Collins’s familial connection with a British diplomat was enough to cause consternation, the fact that he had three other cousins who served the Crown with distinction, may have led to some republicans rushing to critical judgements of the Free State’s hero in post-Civil War Ireland.

By the dawn of the twentieth century, quite a few of Mary Ann Collins’s siblings and in-laws had attained stable employment in the public service. The nature of the mischief she feared Collins getting into is open to speculation, but it is possible that Mary Ann Collins was concerned that her son was developing an interest in politics and becoming very familiar with some local men on the more radical end of the political spectrum.



Beaslai claimed that two of Collins’s neighbours were influential in developing and nurturing a sense of republicanism in the boy. Those neighbours were the Lisavaird school master Denis Lyons, and the local blacksmith, James Santry.[102] This assertion has been repeated by many of Collins’s subsequent biographers. The idea that these men were early influencers of Collins probably came from his siblings, and one of them certainly repeated it many years later.[103]

The James Santry that Beaslai’s text recorded as ‘happily still living’ in 1926, died in 1932 aged 73.[104] Therefore he was born around 1859. It is impossible therefore that he ‘forged his share of the pikes of 98’ as suggested by one of Michael Collins’s sisters.[105] Beaslai’s statement that the blacksmith that Collins knew was ‘the son of a man who had forged pikes in ’48 and ’67 in that very forge’[106] is likely to be more accurate. There was a James Santry working the forge in 1849, so it is certainly possible that he made the pikes in question.[107] It is likely that this was the same man who married Mary Desmond in the same parish in 1860.[108] A trawl of the parish register reveals that the couple did not baptise any children in that parish. Therefore whether or not the man Collins knew was directly descended from them, is open to question. It is possible that his baptism wasn’t recorded, that it was recorded elsewhere, or that he was not a son, but a near relative reared as a son. There was a James Sauntry baptised in Ardfield in 1852.[109] That child’s father was Pat Sauntry. That James Sauntry may be the man that Collins knew, and he may have been reared by an uncle. In that context it is worth noting that the man’s life began at the tail end of the famine. An extended family of Santrys seem to have been involved in the blacksmith trade across the area. Yet another James Santry was born around 1848 and later plied his trade as blacksmith just a few kilometres west at Freehanes.[110] Whatever the familial complications of the Santry family in and around the period, they certainly operated the forge in Lisavaird for at least two generations. And although it is difficult to verify their republican leanings by any source other than the Beaslai biography, there is no reason to doubt them either.

Denis Lyons was born around 1843.[111] Thus Beaslai’s assertion that he was ‘an old member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood’[112] could have been true. He certainly seemed to belong to an advanced nationalist tradition and felt it appropriate to have the militant nationalist O’Donovan Rossa speak to the school children in Lisavaird in 1894.[113] Collins did not start school until two years later, so he was not there at that time.[114] Nonetheless his sister remembered it as a highlight of her school days and his brother would later boast that he was one of the few people still alive who had met Rossa during his visit to Rosscarbery in 1904.[115] Rossa’s visit to Lyons’s school was not covered in any of the extensive reports of his 1894 tour. Overt involvement in politics could have threatened Lyons’s job. Yet he did assist with the organisation of William O’Brien’s ‘United Irish League’ in Lisavaird. He later served as secretary of O’Brien’s ‘All for Ireland League’, with Collins’s brother John serving as chairman of the same committee.[116] The Southern Star described Lyons as someone who had ‘ever been an honest and consistent Nationalist and even when precluded by his position from taking part openly in politics, he rendered quiet, but nonetheless valued services to the popular cause.’[117] Described as a severe and stern teacher, Lyons also utilised his political skill during a long association with the National Teachers Organisation.[118]

Collins’s brother John (often called Johnny, and later calling himself Seán) was born on 28 May 1878.[119] As the oldest male in the Collins family it was John who inherited the Woodfield farm and paid the final annuity in December 1923.[120] By then his mother’s fine house was burned, his first wife had died, and he himself had moved to Wicklow, re-married and taken up a post in the Land Commission.[121] The Woodfield farm was sold in several lots in the Spring of 1924.[122] After his retirement, John (now Seán) Collins returned to Clonakilty, where his ‘unlimited knowledge of local history’[123] was greatly appreciated. Some of John Collins’s dedication to history took the form of the preservation of an archive primarily relating to his brother.[124] He never mentioned his own fledgling political career.

John Collins made his political debut when he was selected by the United Irish League as their candidate for Rural District Councillor of the Coolcraheen division of the Clonakilty Union in 1902. He contested that seat against two sitting members, James Frederick and J.F. O’Donovan.[125] The three-week campaign that followed was clearly a bitter one. John Collins later felt that he had been unfairly treated by establishment politicians in the Irish Parliamentary Party:

‘…though the selected candidate for the United Irish League for the above division, my defeat was partly owing to the fact that Mr E Barry, M.P., canvassed the electorate against me in favour of a non-leaguer. I doubt very much if the electors of South Cork will be pleased that – instead of attending to his business in the House of Commons – their representative should for personal reasons, be engaged in defeating the candidate selected by the United Irish League. I will deal at some other time with the treacherous action of one of my opponents.’[126]

If John Collins’s 1902 campaign left him with a certain bitterness against established figures in the Irish Parliamentary Party, it can’t have been alleviated by the fractious nature of William O’Brien’s relationship with many of those figures. Michael Collins witnessed all of this. He still lived at Woodfield when his brother accused I.P.P. electoral opponents of treachery and he grew into his teenaged years with a brother who remained loyal to William O’Brien throughout the political infighting of the day.

After Collins left for London in 1906, his O’Brienite brother made a return to local political activity in 1910. This time he was part of William O’Brien’s new All for Ireland League (A.F.I.L.) and was among several prominent A.F.I.L. members who welcomed John Walsh to the Clonakilty area during his election campaign in December of that year. John Collins was said to have given ‘a vigorous speech’[127] at Ballygurteen. When Walsh was welcomed back to the area the following year, John Collins referred to the I.P.P. Redmondite faction as ‘Molly Maguire shoneens and turncoat politicians.’ [128] We can’t say whether any of this influenced Michael Collins, who was now in London, but as he lived with his sister it is unlikely that their brother’s political activity escaped both of them.

In late 1911, John Collins perhaps foreshadowed his brother’s diplomatic skills by successfully brokering a truce between the two feuding shades of Irish Nationalism in Clonakilty town. The conciliation was made necessary by the forthcoming commemoration of the Manchester Martyrs. One of those whom the Martyrs had sought to rescue (Timothy Deasy) was from the area and locals considered that commemoration was desirable. There was a fear that the bitter rivalry between the O’Brien and Redmond factions could lead to conflict, or even violence during the commemoration. John Collins was part of a public meeting which aimed to avoid such an embarrassing outcome. The meeting was co-chaired and J.C. O’Sullivan, the Mayor of Clonakilty, chaired the first half of the proceedings, before vacating the chair for John Collins. Collins was diplomatic and magnanimous and received loud applause for his promises of cordiality and co-operation. [129]

The event itself passed off without rancour, but from the historian’s perspective the most interesting feature of this meeting was the ‘eloquent’[130] contribution of ‘another prominent All for Irelander, Mr M J Collins of Woodfield.’ [131] We are told that Collins liked to use the middle initial ‘J’ in his younger years, was sworn into the I.R.B. in 1909, and left his job in the Post Office in 1910.[132] It is therefore tempting for the historian to assume that the M.J. Collins who spoke at Clonakilty on behalf of the A.F.I.L. in 1911, was the same Michael Collins who would eventually sign the treaty, and was then performing an infiltration mission for the I.R.B. However as his brother J.M. Collins is not mentioned in the Southern Star’s report of the commemoration, but is central to a Cork Examiner account which contains no mention of M.J. Collins, it is far more likely that the Southern Star simply misprinted John Collins’s initials.[133]

By 1912 John Collins had become a very competent political performer as was demonstrated when he involved himself in a campaign against the Insurance Bill of that year. The bill proposed setting up a system of social insurance providing for payments by employers to staff who were forced to take sick leave. Although the act seemed to provide security for the weakest members of society, Irish employers were substantially agrarian and argued that the increased cost of labour would end up reducing employment in the Irish countryside. John Collins employed two servants in Woodfield at that time.[134] He also held some shares in the Southern Star newspaper, a major employer in nearby Skibbereen.[135] At a Clonakility meeting of what were deemed ‘representative and influential … people of Clonakilty’[136], John Collins voiced his opposition to the bill. He believed that informal relations between farmers and labourers had always been cordial and reciprocal and that this bill would result in the reduction of labouring jobs due to farmers substituting tillage for grazing.[137]

While such opposition might suggest that John Collins had a tendency to look after his own business interests at the expense of the labouring class, such a suggestion may not be fair. In the previous year, the older Collins brother seemed quite sensitive to the plight of the labourer when he specifically proposed that the A.F.I.L. nominate representatives of the labouring class for representation on Clonakilty Urban Council.[138]

John Collins was still involved in politics in April 1914 when he attended an election meeting in support of Geoffrey Wycherley, a candidate for Cork County Council.[139] Wycherley was another O’Brienite candidate, so John Collins was still in opposition to the more mainstream nationalism of Redmond. Michael Collins was still in London and now moving towards a more militant form of separatism. While his embrace of militant republicanism did not happen in Ireland, it would be surprising if it were not influenced by opposition to Redmondite nationalism in a family circle which included two of his mother’s brothers.          

Michael Collins’s uncle Daniel (Danny) inherited the O’Brien farm at Sam’s Cross. He was a keen sportsman and a supporter of the G.A.A. allowing them the use of one of his fields.[140] Collins’s sister later remembered that their Uncle Danny ‘sang in traditional manner sentimental and natural songs – never comic. He did not like defeatist songs, such as Moore’s or “Sean. O’Dwyer a Glanna”, and always the note of hope or Ireland resurgent came into his versions.’[141] She also recalled her uncle singing about the plan of campaign and the jailing of John Dillon and William O’Brien. Daniel O’Brien had ‘held a prominent place in the Land League agitation’[142] during that period. Later he was member of the A.F.I.L. at Lisavaird under the chairmanship of John Collins.[143] Like many of the O’Brien family, Daniel’s son James worked in the public service eventually following in Collins’s footsteps and attaining a post in the Post Office in London.[144]

Another of Michael Collins’s uncles, Michael O’Brien, was a former R.I.C. officer who retired from that force and went on to become a member of Clonakilty’s Rural District Council. He was affiliated with the A.F.I.L. Sadly, he suffered a similar accident to that of his father when he fell from a cart carrying hay near Sam’s Cross in 1916. His health suffered and he died of the injuries sustained, ten years after the event.[145] 


Michael Collins grew up in the shadow on the famine. The Collins farm was the most fragmented holding in the townland and Collins’s father could remember exactly why that fragmentation had occurred. Like most Irish farming families during the famine, the families of both of his parents saw their holdings expanded at the expense of the less fortunate.

Although he did not spend his youth in a particularly republican nursery, he was aware of the militant philosophy. His father’s favourite nephew may have been a Fenian and was certainly the brother of a man who was. If Michael Collins’s father was himself a Fenian, his politics seem to have moderated in the winter of his life. Denis Lyons and James Santry were probably the primary republican influences on Michael Collins’s life and may have fuelled his mother’s fear of him finding mischief.

His mother was also a moderate woman. She had several siblings in the service of the Crown and was anxious that her youngest son pursue a similar career. Collins appears to have had a friendship with Michael Twohig O’Brien, the most overtly unionist of his cousins. He was affected by his mother’s death and later carried her memorial card on his person as he went into battle in 1916.[146] He returned from London to attend her funeral and almost certainly heard and read the glowing tributes to her memory. Those tributes labelled his family, ‘one of the most respected and respectable families in the West Riding’[147] according to the Skibbereen Eagle. His brother-in-law’s West Cork People devoted an entire page to the memory of Collins’s mother, complete with a poetic tribute that Collins also carried a clipping of.[148] If the sixteen-year-old Collins was not previously convinced that his family was special, these unusually voluminous tributes may have turned his head.

Collins’s earliest exposure to politics was likely to have come from the activities of his brother and his uncles in support of William O’Brien. They were opposed to the mainstream of Irish nationalism but were not openly militant republicans. There is no evidence that Collins’s political outlook was any different to that of his nearest relatives when he left for London. His radicalisation is far more likely to have occurred in London than in Woodfield. But before he left for London he came to live with another highly political relative. That relative was one of Ireland’s most controversial newspaper editors, his brother-in-law Patrick O’Driscoll. O’Driscoll may have exerted more influence on the teenaged Michael Collins than any other figure, and he will form the focus of a future study.

[1] West Cork People, Commemorative Edition, 22 August 2002. N.L.I., Baptismal Register, Cork & Ross, Rossalettiri & Kilkerranmore, August 1852 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (31 January 2021).

[2] G.R.O., Births Register, District of Rosscarbery, Union of Clonakilty, 2 September 1876 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (31 January 2021). N.L.I., Baptismal Register, Cork & Ross, Rossalettiri & Kilkerranmore, 22 July 1876 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (31 January 2021). G.R.O, Marriage Register, District of Rosscarbery, Union of Clonakilty, 26 February 1876 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (31 January 2021). N.L.I. Marriage Register, Cork & Ross, Rossalettiri & Kilkerranmore, 26 February 1876 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (31 January 2021).

[3] G.R.O., Deaths Register, Dublin, Dublin City, 17 June 1945 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (31 January 2021).

[4] Piaras Béaslaí, Michael Collins and the Making of a New Ireland, (2 vols Dublin, 1922) I, p.4.

[5] West Cork People, 22 August 2002.

[6] Sr. Mary Celestine Memoir 4 September 1970 (Michael Collins House (M.C.H.) Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-B-23). Living History by Mary Collins Powell sister of Michael Collins (www.generalmichaelcollins.com/life-times/living-history/) (31 January 2021). Hayden Talbot, Michael Collins Own Story: Told to Hayden Talbot, (London, 1923), pp 22-5.

[7] ‘Maps of Freke Estate 1780s’ (https://celt.ucc.ie/FrekeLoRes/Map_10_Woodfield.jpg) (31 January 2021).

[8] N.A.I., Catholic Qualification Rolls 1700-1845 (https://genealogy.nationalarchives.ie/) (31 January 2021).

[9] Ordnance Survey of Ireland, 6 inch Colour map, 1837-42 (www.osi.ie) (31 January 2021).

[10] N.A.I., Valuation Office Books, Cork, Kilkerranmore, May 1849 (https://genealogy.nationalarchives.ie/) (31 January 2021).

[11] NAI, Catholic Qualification Rolls 1700-1845 (https://genealogy.nationalarchives.ie/) (31 January 2021).

[12] NAI, Tithe Applotment Books, Cork, Kilkerranmore, 1833 (https://genealogy.nationalarchives.ie/) (31 January 2021).

[13] Southern Star, 24 August 2002. N.L.I., Baptismal Register, Cork & Ross, Rossalettiri & Kilkerranmore, December 1845 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (31 January 2021).

[14] Griiffith’s Valuation, Barony of Ibane & Barryroe, Kilkerrnamore, Woodfield, pp 42-3 (http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/) (31 January 2021).

[15] NAI, Tithe Applotment Books, Cork, Kilkerranmore, 1833 (https://genealogy.nationalarchives.ie/).

[16] Griiffith’s Valuation, Barony of Ibane & Barryroe, Kilkerrnamore, Woodfield, pp 42-3 (http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/) (31 January 2021).

[17] Census of Ireland, 1851, Part I: County of Cork West Riding (Dublin, 1852), p. 149.

[18] Griiffith’s Valuation, Barony of Ibane & Barryroe, Kilkerrnamore, Woodfield, pp 42-3 (http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/) (31 January 2021). Irish land Commission, Land Purchase Account, Folio 10852 (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-A-10). Land Registry, Folios CK25478, CK25479, CK61402F, CK61403F, CK40255F, CK40256F, CK41124 (landdirect.ie/pramap/) (31 January 2021).

[19] N.A.I., Will Registers 1858 – 1900, Patrick Collins, 16 July 1891 & Michael John Collins, 7 February 1891 (genealogy.nationalarchives.ie) (31 January 2021).

[20] G.R.O, Marriage Register, District of Rosscarbery, Union of Clonakilty, 26 February 1876 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (31 January 2021).

[21] Griiffith’s Valuation, Barony of & Barryroe, Kilkerrnamore, Tullyneasky East, p. 41 (http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/) (31 January 2021).

[22] West Cork People, 22 August 2002.

[23] Living History by Mary Collins Powell sister of Michael Collins (www.generalmichaelcollins.com/life-times/living-history/) (1 February 2020).

[24] N.L.I., Baptismal Register, Cork & Ross, Rossalettiri & Kilkerranmore, 15 February 1851, (Irishgenealogy.ie) (31 January 2021). See also; note 22.

[25] N.L.I., Baptismal Register, Cork & Ross, Ardfield & Rathbarry, 9 August 1823 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (31 January 2021). As the register contains many Latin names and much Latin terminology, the baptismal entry for ‘Jacobum Brien’ appears to refer to James Brien, son of Daniel Brien and Mary Murray.

[26] N.L.I., Marriage Register, Cork & Ross, Rossalettiri & Kilkerranmore, 17 January 1850 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (31 January 2021). N.L.I., Baptismal Register, Cork & Ross, Rossalettiri & Kilkerranmore, 15 February 1851 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (31 January 2021).

[27] N.A.I., Tithe Applotment Books, Cork, Kilkerranmore, 1833 (https://genealogy.nationalarchives.ie/) (31 January 2021).

[28] N.A.I., Tithe Applotment Books, Cork, Kilkerranmore, 1833 (https://genealogy.nationalarchives.ie/) (31 January 2021). Interview with David O’Hea of Woodfield County Cork (16 Feb. 2021)

[29] N.A.I., Tithe Applotment Books, Cork, Kilkerranmore, 1833 (https://genealogy.nationalarchives.ie/) (31 January 2021). Griiffith’s Valuation, Barony of Ibane & Barryroe, Kilkerrnamore, Tullyneasky East, p.41 (http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/) (31 January 2021). The Tithe Applotment book records the size of Tullineasky as 606 acres and two roods. Griffith’s Evaluation recorded the combined size of Tullineasky East and West as 621 acres, 3 roods, and 10 perches.

[30] N.A.I., Tithe Applotment Books, Cork, Rathbarry, 1834 (https://genealogy.nationalarchives.ie/) (31 January 2021). Griiffith’s Valuation, Barony of Ibane & Barryroe, Kilkerrnamore, Tullyneasky East, p.41 (http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/) (31 January 2021).

[31] Talbot, Michael Collins Own Story, pp 22-3.

[32] Living History by Mary Collins Powell sister of Michael Collins (www.generalmichaelcollins.com/life-times/living-history/) (31 January 2021).

[33] Sr. Mary Celestine Memoir 4 September 1970 (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-B-23).

[34] N.L.I., Baptismal Register, Cork & Ross, Rossalettiri & Kilkerranmore, 17 July 1815 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (31 January 2021).

[35] Southern Star, 24 August 2002. Living History by Mary Collins Powell sister of Michael Collins (www.generalmichaelcollins.com/life-times/living-history/) (1 February 2021).

[36] Béaslaí, Michael Collins and the Making of a New Ireland, Vol. I, p 3.

[37] Béaslaí, Michael Collins and the Making of a New Ireland pp 3-4.

[38] Ibid, p. 4.

[39] West Cork People, 22 August 2002.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid (text in brackets is the author’s).

[42] F J Prendergast (ed), ‘Ancient History of the Kingdom of Kerry, by Friar O’Sullivan, of Muckross Abbey. Edited with preface and notes. With a pedigree of the family of O’Sullivan’ in Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 1898, iv, no. 38 (1898), pp 128-129.

[43] N.L.I., Baptismal Register, Cork & Ross, Rossalettiri & Kilkerranmore, 17 July 1815 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (31 January 2021).

[44] G.R.O, Marriage Register, District of Rosscarbery, Union of Clonakilty, 26 February 1876 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (31 January 2021).

[45] G.R.O, Birth Register, District of Rosscarbery, Union of Clonakilty, 18 August 1876 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (31 January 2021).

[46] Margery Forester, Michael Collins: The Lost Leader, (3rd ed., Dublin, 2006), p. 10. T. P. Coogan, Michael Collins, (2nd ed., London, 1991), p. 7

[47] Cork Examiner, 31 August 1865.

[48] Sr. Mary Celestine Memoir 4 September 1970 (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-B-23). N.L.I., Baptismal Register, Cork & Ross, Kilmeen & Castleventry, 16 September 1849 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (31 January 2021). Southern Star, 24 August 2002.

[49] List of Fenian Prisoners 1867 (N.A.I. Chief Secretary’s Official Papers, CSO ICR 14). Southern Star, 24 August 2002. The Southern Star provides a family tree constructed locally. That tree asserts that Collin’s first cousin Maurice (of Coolacraheen) was a Fenian. Although the man arrested in Drogheda gave his address as ‘Woodfield’ and Collins’s uncle resided at Woodfield, he was at least 43 years old at the time of the Fenian rebellion. It is therefore considered more likely that local tradition is correct in asserting that Collins’s cousin was a Fenian, and that it is he who was recorded as Collins of Woodfield, arrested in Drogheda. 

[50] Living History by Mary Collins Powell sister of Michael Collins (www.generalmichaelcollins.com/life-times/living-history/) (1 February 2021).

[51] G.R.O, Death Register, District of Rosscarbery, Union of Clonakilty, 21 April 1875 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (1 February 2021).

[52] Royal Irish Constabulary Service Records (T.N.A., Royal Irish Constabulary Service Records 1832, HO 184/1). Maurice Collins pension records indicate that he was born in 1809 or 1810. Thus, he was in his middle fifties by the time of the Fenian Rebellion in 1867. It is considered unlikely that a retired police officer of comparatively advanced years was the Fenian rebel who gave his address as Woodfield.

[53] Coogan, p. 4. Forester, p. 2.

[54] Living History by Mary Collins Powell sister of Michael Collins (www.generalmichaelcollins.com/life-times/living-history/) (1 February 2021).

[55] NAI, Irish Prison Registers 1790-1924, Cork County Gaol General Register 1850-1852, Book 1/8/5 (findmypast.ie) (1 February 2021). 

[56] Chief Secretary’s Office Registered Papers, Index 1852 (N.A.I. Reading Room Shelves).

[57] Ibid.

[58] Coogan, p. 4.

[59] G.R.O, Death Register, District of Rosscarbery, Union of Clonakilty, 19 May 1877 & 1 February 1878 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (2 February 2021).

[60] Living History by Mary Collins Powell sister of Michael Collins (www.generalmichaelcollins.com/life-times/living-history/) (2 February 2021).

[61] G.R.O, Death Register, District of Rosscarbery, Union of Clonakilty, 19 August 1891 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (2 February 2021).

[62] Sr. Mary Celestine Memoir 4 September 1970 (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-B-23).

[63] Living History by Mary Collins Powell sister of Michael Collins (www.generalmichaelcollins.com/life-times/living-history/) (11 December 2020).

[64] Living History by Mary Collins Powell sister of Michael Collins (www.generalmichaelcollins.com/life-times/living-history/) (11 December 2020).

[65] Sr. Mary Celestine Memoir 4 September 1970 (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-B-23).

[66] Cork Examiner, 28 March 1889.

[67] Cork Examiner, 8 February 1889.

[68] Cork Examiner, 28 April 1890.

[69] Skibbereen Eagle, 6 April 1889.

[70] Coogan, p. 7.

[71] Sr. Mary Celestine Memoir 4 September 1970 (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-B-23).

[72] West Cork Eagle in Cork Examiner, 26 October 1870.

[73] G.R.O, Death Register, District of Rosscarbery, Union of Clonakilty, 1 January 1917 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (2 February 2021).

[74] Living History by Mary Collins Powell sister of Michael Collins (www.generalmichaelcollins.com/life-times/living-history/) (2 February 2021).

[75] Living History by Mary Collins Powell sister of Michael Collins (www.generalmichaelcollins.com/life-times/living-history/) (2 February 2021).

[76] Ibid.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Ellen O’Brien Twohig lived in Britain (see below), Johanna O’Brien lived in Edinburgh and was probably the aunt to whom Mary Collins Powell remembered being sent in her youth (Living History by Mary Collins Powell sister of Michael Collins (www.generalmichaelcollins.com/life-times/living-history/) (2 February 2021)), her brother James applied to the civil service in 1882 (see below), her sister Annie worked in London (see below) and Denis O’Brien emigrated to Australia (see below).

[79] Sr. Mary Celestine Memoir 4 September 1970 (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-B-23). Living History by Mary Collins Powell sister of Michael Collins (www.generalmichaelcollins.com/life-times/living-history/) (2 February 2021).

[80] Sr. Mary Celestine Memoir 4 September 1970 (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-B-23).

[81] Southern Star, 14 September 1901 & 29 May 1902.

[82] Sr. Mary Celestine Memoir 4 September 1970 (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-B-23).

[83] Living History by Mary Collins Powell sister of Michael Collins (www.generalmichaelcollins.com/life-times/living-history/) (2 February 2021).

[84] Society of Genealogists, British Civil Service Evidence of Age, F16026 149 (https://www.findmypast.co.uk) (29 January 2021).

[85] G.R.O. Death Register, District of Clonakilty, Union of Clonakilty, 24 February 1930 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (2 February 2021). Southern Star, 14 May 1904. G.R.O, Marriage Register, District of Rosscarbery, Union of Clonakilty, 22 September 1887 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (2 February 2021). Cork Examiner, 30 May 1938.

[86] N.L.I., Baptismal Register, Cork & Ross, Rossalettiri & Kilkerranmore, 8 March 1863 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (2 February 2021).

[87] England & Wales Marriages 1837-2005, London, 1890, Q3, Volume 1B, p676 (www.findmypast.co.uk) (2 February 2021). London Gazette, 1 January 1886. Southern Star, 2 December 1939.

[88] London Gazette, 3 June 1892.

[89] Skibbereen Eagle, 20 April 1907.

[90] Kildare Observer, 2 September 1922.

[91] Michael O’Brien Twohig to Michael Collins 8 March 1922 (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-A-002).

[92] Southern Star, 27 November 1915.

[93] Michael O’Brien Twohig to Michael Collins 8 March 1922 (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-A-002).

[94] Iris Oifigiúil, 27 June 1924 in Freeman’s Journal, 28 June 1924. Irish Military Archives, Online Collections, Irish Army Census 12 & 13 November 1922, Eastern Command, p223 (www.militaryarchives.ie) (2 February 2021).

[95] Weekly Freeman’s Journal, 5 July 1924.

[96] Southern Star, 27 November 1915. Irish Independent, 12 November 1949. Coventry Evening Telegraph, 16 June 1960. Michael O’Brien-Twohig, Diplomatic Courier, (London, 1960).

[97] Northern Whig, 29 August 1927. Evening Herald, 30 August 1927.

[98] Londonderry Sentinel, 16 June 1945.

[99] Southern Star, 27 November 1915.

[100] Michael O’Brien Twohig to Michael Collins 8 March 1922 (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-A-002).

[101] Ibid.

[102] Beaslai, pp 5-6.

[103] Sr. Mary Celestine Memoir 4 September 1970 (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-B-23).

[104] G.R.O, Deaths Register, District of Rosscarbery, Union of Clonakilty, 14 August 1932 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (2 February 2021).

[105] Sr. Mary Celestine Memoir 4 September 1970 (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-B-23).

[106] Beaslai, p. 6.

[107] Griiffith’s Valuation, Barony of Ibane & Barryroe, Kilkerrnamore, Tullyneasky East, p. 41 (http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/) (2 February 2021).

[108] N.L.I., Marriage Register, Cork & Ross, Rossalettiri & Kilkerranmore, 22 July 1860 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (2 February 2021).

[109] N.L.I., Baptisimal Register, Cork & Ross, Ardfield & Rathbarry, 26 August 1852 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (2 February 2021).

[110] G.R.O, Deaths Register, District of Rosscarbery, Union of Clonakilty, 24 January 1910 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (2 February 2021).

[111] G.R.O, Deaths Register, District of Rosscarbery, Union of Clonakilty, 10 July 1912 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (2 February 2021).

[112] Beaslai, p. 5.

[113] Sr. Mary Celestine Memoir 4 September 1970 (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-B-23).

[114] Lisavaird National School, Roll Book 1896-1902 (Lisavaird National School).

[115] Sr. Mary Celestine Memoir 4 September 1970 (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-B-23). Evening Echo, 30 January 1965.

[116] Cork County Eagle & Munster Advertiser, July, 1912.

[117] Southern Star, 6 July 1912.

[118] Southern Star, 17 October 1903, 3 February 1906, 6 July 1912.

[119] G.R.O, Births Register, District of Rosscarbery, Union of Clonakilty, 15 June 1878 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (2 February 2021). It is important to note that the birth name was registered as ‘John Michael Collins.’ The middle initial, and birth year, distinguishes him from another ‘John Collins’ recorded in Woodfield on the census of 1901. For an example of this distinction see; Skibbereen Eagle, 6 February 1915. Both men attended the funeral of Mrs Margaret O’Sullivan. One was identified as ‘John Collins, Woodfield,’ the other as ‘J.M. Collins, Woodfield.’

[120] Irish land Commission, Land Purchase Account, Folio No. 10852 (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-A-10).

[121] G.R.O., Deaths Register, District of Rosscarbery, Union of Clonakilty, 18 February 1921 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (3 February 2021). Evening Herald, 30 January 1965. G.R.O., Marriage Register, District of Wicklow, Union of Rathdrum, 26 September 1922 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (3 February 2021).

[122] Dublin Evening Telegraph, 2 February 1924.

[123] Evening Echo, 12 February 1965.

[124] Liam Collins Papers, John Collins Collection (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC)

[125] Southern Star, 3 May 1902.

[126] Southern Star, 31 May 1902.

[127] Skibbereen Eagle, 10 December 1910.

[128] Skibbereen Eagle, 20 May 1911.

[129] Skibbereen Eagle, 25 November 1911.

[130] Southern Star, 2 December 1911.

[131] Ibid.

[132] Forester, p. 3. Coogan, pp 16-17.

[133] Cork Examiner, 29 November 1911.

[134] Census of Ireland 1911 (www.census.nationalarchives.ie) (3 February 2021).

[135] Seán Collins Southern Star Correspondence (M.C.H., Liam Collins Papers, P-JC-D-2).

[136] Skibbereen Eagle, 27 July 1912.

[137] Ibid.

[138] Skibbereen Eagle, 20 May 1911

[139] Skibbereen Eagle, 4 April 1914.

[140] Southern Star, 26 October 1895.

[141] Living History by Mary Collins Powell sister of Michael Collins (www.generalmichaelcollins.com/life-times/living-history/) (3 February 2021).

[142] Southern Star, 12 July 1924.

[143] Cork County Eagle & Munster Advertiser, 13 July 1912.

[144] Ibid.

[145] G.R.O, Death Register, District of Rosscarbery, Union of Clonakilty, 21 June 1926 (Irishgenealogy.ie) (2 February 2021). Skibbereen Eagle, 8 April 1911. Southern Star, 22 July 1916.

[146] Living History by Mary Collins Powell sister of Michael Collins (www.generalmichaelcollins.com/life-times/living-history/) (3 February 2021).

[147] Skibbereen Eagle, 20 April 1907.

[148] West Cork People, April 1907.

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