Lock of Michael Collins’ hair and evocative account of his death go under hammer

Lock Of Michael Collins’ Hair And Evocative Account Of His Death Go Under Hammer
Karl Bennett, Bloomfield Auctions managing director, is pictured holding a walking stick that once belonged to Michael Collins (BloomfieldAuctions/PA)
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By Rebecca Black, PA

A lock of republican leader Michael Collins’ hair as well as an evocative account of his death 100 years ago are set to be auctioned in Belfast.

The items are among a number from the War of Independence going under the hammer at Bloomfield Auction House next month.


They include a walking stick owned by Collins, a revolver he reputedly had on his person when helping spring Eamon De Valera from Lincoln Jail in 1919 as well as documents from Collins’ close friend Emmet Dalton.

A lock of Michael Collins’ hair alongside the words ‘General Michael Collins, a lock of his hair. Rest in Peace’ (BloomfieldAuctions/PA)

Those include Dalton’s account of the killing of Collins in Co Cork in August 1922 and a photograph of the British intelligence agents known as the Cairo Gang.


Collins was involved in the Easter Rising of 1916 but came to prominence during the proceeding War of Independence and peace talks with the British. He was later assassinated during the Civil War.

Bloomfield Auctions managing director Karl Bennett said 100 years on from the events of the War of Independence he expects international interest in the items.

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A painting of Michael Collins by Irish artist John Keating (PA)


Last year a walking stick once owned by Collins sold for £52,000 (€62,383), more than five times its estimate to a phone buyer from the Irish Republic.

Mr Bennett said he and his staff were absolutely shocked to get the phone call about a lock of Collins’ hair.

“The first thing we ask, which is probably what most of the public will ask, ‘is how do you know it is Michael Collins’ hair, what is the provenance behind it’, it’s important that we’re confident about the provenance that we’re given, that we can stand over that and the vendors can,” he told the PA news agency.

“But the lock of hair was given to Felix Cronin, he was married to Kitty Kiernan (a former fiancée of Collins), and it passed through the family to the current vendor.


“It’s on a little card with Erin go Bragh, and we’re confident that the paper, the handwriting etc all relates back to that period of time when Collins killed in 1922, 100 years ago this year.”

Pictured is a portion of Emmet Dalton’s account of Michael Collins’ death (BloomfieldAuctions/PA)

Mr Bennett described Dalton as one of Collins’ “right hand men” during the War of Independence.


American born Dalton served in the British army during the First World War and received the Military Cross in 1917.

He went on to join the IRA and fought against the British.

He was with Collins when he was ambushed and killed at Béal na Bláth in August 1922.

The documents came to the auction house from a vendor in England.

“They are Dalton’s own detailed personal account of the day that Michael Collins was shot … the detail in his writings is phenomenal.

“Most of us have probably seen the movie Michael Collins with Liam Neeson, that’s nothing in comparison with the detail that we have here, and the feelings of Emmet Dalton and others around him gives you a real insight into how Michael Collins was perceived by those across Ireland,” he said.

The documents also include a letter about the setting up of the Football Association of Ireland on December 7th 1921.

The War of Independence Sale will take place at Bloomfield Auctions in east Belfast on March 15th.

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