Lock of Michael Collins' hair removed from auction

Michael Collins Michael Collins was shot dead in an ambush in 1922

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The owner of a lock of Michael Collins' hair has decided to donate it to a museum rather than auction it, after the Irish Civil War leader's grandniece said she was appalled by the plan.

Former Irish MEP Mary Banotti told RTE radio on Tuesday she believed selling the hair showed disrespect and insensitivity.

"I'm fully aware that taking locks of hair was part of the culture for many years, but not selling it for a huge price in an auction, that's really where I feel it shows a certain amount of disrespect and insensitivity," she said.

Its owner, who is not believed to be a descendant of Collins, will now donate the items to the National Museum of Ireland, reported RTE.

Michael Collins was shot dead in west Cork during the Irish Civil War on 22 August 1922. Comrades brought his body to Dublin by sea on board the steamship Classic.

His body was taken to St Vincent's Hospital to be embalmed by a team of pathologists before being removed to lie in state at Dublin City Hall.

Start Quote

It is not about selling to the highest bidder but more about selling to someone who will know its importance and appreciate it and maintain its future existence”

End Quote George Mealy Auctioneer

Ciaran O'Boyle of Adam's Auctions in Dublin, said the lock of hair had been taken by Collins' elder sister, Kitty, as he lay in state. In the 1950s, it had been given to a friend of the family.

It had been expected to fetch 3,000 to 5,000 euros at auction.

Cotton swab

Mrs Banotti also objected to the sale of a cotton swab used to clean his corpse, but that auction is still going ahead.

Auctioneers Mealy's are selling the swab at an auction next week.

Auctioneer George Mealy said that it was a framed swab of lint and cotton wool used to clean Collins's face which was kept by a nurse, Nessie Rogan, who worked at St Vincent's Hospital. It has been passed down though her family.

He defended the decision to auction it.

"It is something that is so evocative and so important and directly linked to Michael Collins," he said.

"It is a very sensitive item but the future of it will be secured. It will not be lost through the cracks of history. Whoever buys it will appreciate it.

"It is not about selling to the highest bidder but more about selling to someone who will know its importance and appreciate it and maintain its future existence."

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