The Minister of State responsible for the development and upkeep of museums has hit out a decision of the National Museum to withdraw from public exhibition, the uniform hat worn by Michael Collins when he was shot dead at Béal na Bláth .
he museum said the decision was taken because a hole in the garment caused by the fatal bullet could cause upset to the descendants of General Collins and the decision was based on ‘modern museum ethics’.
Minister Patrick O’Donovan said the hat should be on public view as part of the Collins exhibition at the Museum in Colllins Barracks.
He said: “The GAA have had no problem with putting the jersey worn by Michael Hogan when he was shot dead on Bloody Sunday. The jersey is on view at the GAA museum in Croke Park. The hat worn by Michael Collins displays the violence of that day and as such is of historical importance.”
Kerry solicitor, Robert Pierse, a grand nephew of Michael Collins said the removal of the hat from pubic view was ‘political correctness gone wrong’.
He said: “I have no problem with the hat being on public view at the National Museum. It should be on public view with the other exhibits from that time.”
For decades, the hat along with the general’s greatcoat (overcoat) worn by Collins on the day he was shot were displayed at the museum in Kildare Street.
However, when the Collins exhibition was moved to Collins Barracks in 2006, a review was carried out in the light of ‘modern museum ethics’. The museum catalogue states there is blood and other matter in the crown of the cap and it has mud stains also.
A spokesperson for the national museum said: “The cap is no longer on display and one of the reasons is due to the sensitivity of General Collins’ blood and organic matter on the object which is an integral part of the artefact itself.”
She said it was felt the two objects, Collins cap and greatcoat were not necessary together to tell the story of Béal na Bláth and the greatcoat alone was sufficient.
There is evidence of blood under the collar of Collins’ greatcoat. The spokesperson said: “The blood on the greatcoat is more subtle and not as graphic and it has the mud from the scene that day at Béal na mBláth.”
She said the cap is preserved and can be viewed if a person makes a prior appointment with the museum.
The decision to remove the cap from public view in the museum, she said was taken by curators and in doing so they took on board the sensitivities of the descendants of Michael Collins.
Source: Irish News