Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Michael Collins Unofficial Trail In The Unofficial Capital - Cork


Our 6 year old son Seamus is Michael Collins mad, he simply loves him & is eager for any & all information about the man that he can get. Last Christmas while trying to explain to him about people not believing in the same God nor believing in Christmas he piped up that he only believes in three: Michael Collins, God & Johnny Cash are his Holy Trinity!!

I met my husband while we were both serving in the 7th Field Artillery Regiment in McKee Barracks way back in 1997. We are both interested in Irish military history, especially the 1916 Rising so that might explain where he first got to learn of Michael Collins.

Earlier this year we watched a documentary on RTE, aired as part of the Great Irish Journeys series. John Creedon retraced the Big Fella’s last 24 hours in Cork. Seamus was so wowed by this that we decided we had to do it ourselves to show him first hand.



Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery West Cork

We stayed in a fabulous family run 3* hotel in West Cork on the Wild Atlantic Way. This was an ideal base for visiting Clonakilty & further afield. We found out that Michael Collins’ parents are buried in the graveyard that’s just behind the hotel, so our trail started earlier than we had expected. 

My daughters decided that we should visit & bring some flowers. The Celtic Ross is brilliant for children as they have a pool & kids club to keep the little ones entertained. Druid’s restaurant serves fresh local produce, specialising in seafood, you can dine overlooking Rosscarbery bay. They offer rates from as little as €31.50pp B&B off season. Children (4-12 yrs) are €12 each B&B.
Our Little Fella with the Big Fella, Clonakilty, West Cork

Michael Collins attended school in & lived in Clonakilty for a couple of years. The house is currently undergoing renovations so you can’t get in at the moment but there is a large statue of Collins in the town centre. 

Tim & Dolores Crowley opened a heritage centre dedicated to Collins on their farm in 2000. They now run trails from the Michael Collins Centre in Castleview Clonakilty. Unfortunately it was not open when we were passing so we will be back for that! We have heard that it’s well worth a visit. For bookings or inquiries call 023 8846107.

Woodfield, Sam’s Cross, West Cork

Woodfield is the birthplace of Michael Collins, it’s hard to find but we managed! Coming from Clonakilty out to Lisavaird go through the village & take the first right heading south & you’ll see a brown tourist signpost directing you. 

The house itself is no longer standing as it was burned by the British Crown Forces in 1921. Although you can still see its footprint & the chimney tops. The barns at the back, into which family moved when the house was burned down, are still standing. It’s such a peaceful & tranquil place I can see why he loved it so much.

Blackcurrant & Tayto all round! Four All's, Sam’s Cross, West Cork

On that faithful day August 22nd 1922 Michael Collins & his men met with his family in the Four All’s, which was owned by his uncle Jeremiah Collins.  It’s a stones throw from his birthplace. 

If you make it to Woodfield be sure to pop into the Four All's as you are always assured of a warm welcome. While we were there Seamus wanted to see the old sign that hung over the door when Michael last visited as he had seen John Creedon with it. The barman was lovely & brought us out to the back of the bar to show us.

On the way back to our hotel that evening we took a trek out to Beál na mBláth but there was torrential rain so we couldn't get out for any pictures. 

It was difficult to find but the best way is to head there from the Macroom – Cork road. There is a monument at the side of the road & it’s a plenty big road to pull in.


The Imperial Hotel, South Mall, Cork City

Michael Collins spent his last night in the Imperial Hotel in Cork, it’s very sad to see that the only reminder is a painting & small plaque on the wall in the lobby. The suite that he slept in has since been remodelled into three bedrooms so you can’t see where he slept. 

We had stayed in the Imperial Hotel without the children previously & once you can find your room it’s lovely! The thermal suite is amazing & we spent hours there.

Arthur Mayne’s, Pembroke Street, Cork

If you happen to find yourself in Cork City I can’t recommend enough the food (especially the spiced beef sandwich) in Arthur Mayne’s just beside the Imperial Hotel. 

It’s a gorgeous wine bar with a huge suntrap of a beer garden out the back. Oh & they are one of only a handful of places in Cork that open for Sunday brunch (!). They have recently opened a sister bar in Donnybrook, Dublin. We haven’t had a chance to visit yet but the food will be every bit as tasty their Chef has relocated to Dublin.


Collins Barracks, Cork City

didn't know this but there is a museum in Collins Barracks with a room dedicated to Michael Collins. Guess it’s handy having a hubby in the know! They have a lot of Michael Collins’ personal belongings such as his leather overcoat, his pistols & his medal from the War of Independence. 

Also the first makeshift cross that was erected at the ambush site in Beál na mBláth. The Big Fella’s writing bureau is also there, I can only imagine the letters he would be writing today, if he was still with us. The curator Jim Horgan keeps everything in pristine condition. The museum is open to the public 10am- 1pm Monday, Wednesday & Friday, entry is free of charge



Munster Arms Hotel (formerly Lees Hotel) Bandon, Co Cork

Last stop on our Michael Collins trail is the Munster Arms Hotel in Bandon, this was also Michael Collins’ last stop as he came here to attend a meeting & rally the local Free State Troops before heading back to Cork City via Beál na mBláth. At this stage most of the bridges & roads in the area were either blown or blocked by the IRA. 

It’s here, in the lobby that hangs the last known photograph of General Michael Collins. Yes, Seamus gives the thumbs up in every photo!


Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

We recently attended a commemoration in Glasnevin Cemetery for Arthur Griffith & Michael Collins. The only reason I include this is that Sliabh na mBan, the 1920 Rolls Royce armoured car, was also in attendance. 

It was part of Michael Collins’ motorcade while visiting Cork in 1922 & was used to transport his wounded body after the ambush at Beál na mBláth on August 22nd

Sliabh na mBan has been lovingly restored inside & out including the .303 Vickers water cooled machine gun by the skilled craftsmen in the Irish Defence Forces Cavalry Corps. 

Seamus loves visiting Sliabh na mBan in her home at the military museum in the Curragh, Co Kildare. Opening hours Mon- Wed 10am-1pm & 3pm-5pm Thurs 2pm-8pm Sun 2pm-5pm admission is free of charge as is parking.


Tell us, have you been to any of the Michael Collins spots in Cork? Got a little one that's as interested in history as our Seamus? 


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