Michael Collins’ great-niece said she believes he would be proud of what Ireland is today as she and 180 relatives prepare to mark the centenary of his death.
Tomorrow through August 22nd there will be a celebration of the 100th anniversary.
It will take place in his hometown of Clonakilty, Co Cork and will feature a reunion of three generations of great-nieces and great-nephews.
Fidelma Collins, whose grandfather Johnny was the Big Fella’s brother, said she looks forward to passing the baton of keeping his legacy alive to the younger generation of her relatives.
Despite being immersed in her great-uncle’s story, Ms Collins said she feels no pressure to keep his story alive and sees it as an honour.
“I don’t think it was a pressure for us,” she said.
“But because we’re such a big family, we’re a little bit separated from ourselves because one of my cousins is from Canada, there are people coming from England, so it’s just good to get us all together in one room.
“And for those of us who are the great-nieces and great-nephews, I’m one of the younger ones and I’m in my 60’s but a lot of them are in their 70’s and 80’s so it’s time for the next generation to take over. “
Ms Collins, who proudly keeps Collins memorabilia in her home and car, said she believes people are becoming more interested in Irish history as the Hundred Year War of Independence approaches.
“There were times when it might not have been as prominent as it is now, but I’ve always been surprised that people would come up to me and say, ‘I heard you’re related to Michael Collins,’ and they would give their own story about her grandfather who knew him or something like that,” she said.
“So I always had someone come up to me and whisper a little story in my ear, which was wonderful.
“I can’t explain how excited people are, they’re so excited and respectful — it’s an absolutely wonderful thing to be honest with you.”
Ms Collins said it’s “in her blood” to enjoy speaking to people and getting involved in her local community, and her relatives feel the same.
“We are very active locally. We pitch in, we’re the chairman, we’re the secretary, we’re looking for the money.
“It’s like we just can’t get away from it, it’s in our blood.
“It’s not a chore. We are all doers and we are all activists, truly in our own way.
“We all have this innate idea that we need to give back.”
On what she thinks her great-uncle would think about Ireland in 2022, she said: “If you look at what we’ve achieved in 100 years, right now we’ve got about 4.2 per cent unemployed.
“I know we’re having big issues at the moment with energy bills and stuff like that, but if we look at our infrastructure, if we look at the industry that’s come into the country, if we look at our workforce, I think we have there’s just so much coming in 100 years. I think he would be very proud.
“It’s like we’ve found ourselves, we’ve found our music and our poetry and our playwrights, but we’ve also found our entrepreneurs and our scholars.
“And if you look back on the pandemic, we had a really smart and good medical force guiding us. So I think we have a lot to offer.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/hed-be-so-proud-of-ireland-today-michael-collinss-grand-niece-claims-ahead-of-centenary-marking-his-death-41909086.html “He would be so proud of Ireland today,” claims Michael Collins’ great-niece ahead of the centenary of his death