Invaluable artefact a huge coup for Roddy’s museum

Michael Collins’ gun put on show

By Gráinne Brinkley

A REVOLVER belonging to legendary Irish revolutionary Michael Collins is to be put on display in a local club. Pat McArdle of the Roddy McCorley Society on the Glen Road said securing Michael Collins’ Webley for display was “quite a coup” for the club’s private museum which is already a magnet for lovers of Irish history from across Ireland and beyond.

Irish memorabilia expert Pat O’Hagan explained the fascinating history of the precious artefact.

“That gun was given by Collins to a man called Thomas Devlin on January 6, 1922. Devlin was playing music for Michael Collins and his guests, somewhere in Limerick, we think. At the end of the night Collins presented the gun to him as a thank-you for entertaining him. They say Collins had about 20 personal weapons as he used them for show when visiting different places throughout Ireland. He would always dress in full military uniform when going on these visits as he knew people expected to see him like that. But when he was drunk he had a habit of giving the guns away to people who entertained him or helped him on these visits. We don’t know if this particular gun was ever fired in anger or not.”

The gun, lent to the Roddy’s by the Irish Volunteers Commemorative Organisation, is set to be displayed alongside a Fianna Éireann handbook that was used to swear in new members on its foundation in Dublin in 1909.

A special membership booklet for the 4th Battalion ‘Old Na Fianna Éireann’, a group consisting of grown-up members of the original Fianna Éireann, has also been lent to the museum for exhibition. The two Fianna Éireann booklets are steeped in local republican history.

“Fianna Éireann was a youth movement initially started locally by Belfast man Bulmer Hobson in 1903, but it didn’t really take off here,” said Pat O’Hagan.

“Hobson moved to Dublin and in 1909, with the help of Constance Markievicz, he set it up there again. People always said the Fianna was like the boy scouts because of the rope knots and the nature study side of things, but it really wasn’t, as in the Fianna you learned how to fire guns. When you joined the Fianna you swore on this book. Most of the Fianna boys who took part in the 1916 Rising became members of the IRA and fought in the War of Independence.”

“The smaller booklet was put together for members of the Fianna who grew older and wanted to keep the old memories alive,” explained Pat McArdle.

“They called themselves the Old Fianna of the 4th Battalion of Cork. This was like a membership book as they would still talk and have their meetings and it was a way to make sure that no-one would forget them. And that’s what we are trying to do by displaying these pieces of history, to help people today remember them. I think it’s a great honour for the Roddy’s to acquire these items on loan – particularly the gun. We have some marvellous stuff up here already in the museum and this just adds to that.”

Want to see Collins’ gun and visit the museum? Call 90 300480 or email mail@roddy mccorley.com

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