An anonymous vendor who had submitted for auction a lock of Michael Collins’ hair – taken from his body when he was lying in state – has now withdrawn the item from sale.
The lock will instead be donated to the National Museum of Ireland, it emerged overnight.
The memento, snipped from his head as he lay in state, was in an envelope with the inscription: “Hair of head of Michael Collins when laid in State in the City Hall August 1922.”
The hair lock, gifted to a friend of the Collins family in the 1950s, was expected to fetch between €3,000 to €5,000.
There was huge public interest in the sale, but relatives of Collins told RTÉ they were appalled that it was to be sold.
Michael Collins’ grandniece and former MEP Mary Banotti told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the family want the lock to be buried in Collins’ grave in Glasnevin Cemtery, Dublin.
Adam’s, on St Stephen’s Green, Dublin, said much of the attention from potential buyers was on the lock of hair – a keepsake once belonging to his older sister Kitty.
Rare footage of the Corkman heading on the Anglo Irish Treaty delegation in 1921 is also among thousands of lots going under the hammer at a special historical sale.
Also at the sale, entitled 800 Years – Irish Political, Military and Literary History, is rare 35mm film reel of the treaty delegation going to negotiations in London in 1921.
The minute-long footage, by Pathe Gazette, opens with a prolonged shot of the Irish delegates coming from the boat train.
Arthur Griffith is identified as foreign minister, while Collins is described as “the elusive Mr Collins”.
Adam’s says a short clip of Collins speaking with force from a platform may be the only existing “live” footage of the leader.
It is also expected to reach between €3,000 and €5,000.
“Collins is the most popular figure among collectors,” said Kieran O’Boyle, of Adam’s.
“So people passionate about their history will be interested in these items – there are dedicated Collins collectors.”
A very rare copy of the 1916 Proclamation printed in Liberty Hall on Easter Sunday 1916 will also go under the hammer, valued at between €60,000 and €80,000.
“It is probably the most important document in modern Irish history,” said Mr O’Boyle.
“We think there are only around 50 surviving copies, 20 of which are in public institutions.”
This copy comes from a family in Longford, who have had it for many years.
With staff writer