2006-04-12-2019-02-22 --- 2019-02-22 22:35:58--00
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LOT :405
Estimate EUR : €30,000.00 - €50,000.00
Auction Date : 12-04-2006


Michael Collins (1890-1922). His original signed membership card of Sinn Fein (An Chomhairle N?isi?nta), countersigned by P.S. ? h?igeartaigh, secretary of London Central branch, undated but circa 1907, with a letter of provenance. An Chomhairle N?isi?nta (National Council) was set up in 1903 by Arthur Griffith, initially to oppose a Royal visit, and then to pursue his programme of national self-sufficiency (the 'Sinn Fein' policy). The Sinn Fein League was set up by Bulmer Hobson, P.S. O'Hegarty and others in 1907, and amalgamated with the National Council later in that year. From 1908 the united group used the name 'Sinn Fein' ('Ourselves'). The membership card is actually a small booklet (3 ins x 2 ? ins). It contains a summary of the Sinn Fein policy on eight tiny pages, within a red cloth cover bearing the words 'SINN F?IN' in Gaelic script, with membership details inside front cover. It must date from circa 1907. Collins' signature is in English, unusually - later in his political development he almost always signed with the Irish form of his name. Michael Collins was born in 1890, the seventh child of a West Cork farmer. In 1906 he sat the examination for entry to the British Post Office and was appointed a temporary clerk in London. He remained in London until 1915, socialising mainly with other young men from Cork. He was active in the London GAA, and gradually extended his interests into Republican politics, the Irish language and literature. His friends and mentors included P.S. O'Hegarty (? h?igeartaigh), another Corkman working in the Post Office, who has written about Collins in those years in his memoir The Victory of Sinn Fein. O'Hegarty was ten years older than Collins, and was already a militant separatist, a colleague of Arthur Griffith and a member of the clandestine Irish Republican Brotherhood. He was an organiser for Sinn Fein and was Secretary of its central London branch. He also had wider interests in literature, book-collecting and the study of history, and he encouraged Collins to develop his interests in those directions. The present card shows that O'Hegarty enrolled Michael Collins as a member of Sinn Fein around 1907, when Collins was about 17 - a step which had momentous consequences for later Irish history. Collins played only a small part in the Easter Rising, but he took a decisive role in reorganising the Volunteers afterwards, in directing the military campaign which brought Britain to the negotiating table, and in organising financial backing for the First Dail and its Government. His voice was again decisive in the Treaty talks and debates, and as Chairman of the Provisional Government, Minister for Finance and Army Commander-in-Chief he pushed through the hard decisions that set the Free State on its feet. If any one man can be named as the architect of Irish independence, it must be Michael Collins. The present item is effectively Collins' certificate of commitment to the Irish national struggle. In signing it, he declared his allegiance to an aspiration, a movement and a programme - an allegiance which set the course of his adult life. He must have taken particular care to preserve this document during the turbulent years that followed, when his offices and the houses where he slept were often raided, and even the family home in West Cork was burned to the ground. There can scarcely be a more significant memento of a great man. Provenance: Mrs. Kitty Sheridan (sister of Michael Collins) to P.S. ? h?igeartaigh; thereafter by descent. The letter of provenance is from Diarmuid ? h?igeartaigh (no relation to P.S., but also an IRB veteran and a senior civil servant). He explains that Mrs. Sheridan had decided to dispose of certain mementos, and wished to send Michael's Sinn Fein card to P.S. By some accident the card was misdelivered to Diarmuid at the Office of Public Works, who redirected it to PS.

Hammer Price : €60,000.00
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