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“My Dearest Kitty” Love Letters.

100 years ago, as the Chairman of the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State, Michael Collins assisted in leading the Anglo Irish Treaty negotiations, he was also negotiating a new and long distance personal relationship with Kitty Kiernan.

Eight months ago and over the course of 11 episodes, through Kitty and Michael’s correspondence, containing some 300 letters and telegrams, we learn at first hand, [Courtesy of Cork County Council Commemorations Committee], the story of their evolving relationship, in conjunction with the then also evolving story of the Anglo Irish Treaty negotiations, both here and in London.

Episode 1. begins HERE; however we have chosen to publish episodes 11 (‘My Dearest Kitty…’ Finale), hereunder to highlight our point of debate.

It was Major General Piaras Beaslaí, who wrote the first full-length biography of Michael Collins, published in 1926, which was first to suggest that the “Big Fellow” or “Long Fellow” had little or no time for the fairer sex.

Major Beaslaí wrote, “He preferred the company of young men, and never paid any attention to the girls belonging to the Branch, not even to the sisters and friends of his male companions”.
Beaslaí makes no mention of Kitty Kiernan in the biography, nor that Collins was then engaged to be married at the time of his death, in 1922.

Collins had proposed to Ms Kitty Kiernan in the ‘Grand Hotel’, Greystones, County Wicklow, later to be renamed ‘La Touche Hotel’, where I began hotel management training in 1969.

Same hotel, which had initially opened in 1894 and closed in 2004, is now a striking luxurious residential development known as “La Touche Cove”. (But where now is Room 27, then rumoured as used by Collins?)

There was only one floral tribute permitted on the flag-covered coffin of Michael Collins; a single white peace lily from Ms Kitty Kiernan.

Frank O’Connor’s biography of Michael Collins, in 1937, also failed to mention Ms Kitty Kiernan, and essentially ignored the latter’s interaction with other females.

Twenty one years later in 1958, Rex Taylor also failed to mention Ms Kitty Kiernan in his biography.

Many women over that troubled period in Irieland had worked with Collins.
So why was Moya O’Connor, (later wife of solicitor Compton Llewelyn Davies); Lily Mernin (cousin of said biographer Piaras Beaslaí); Nancy O’Brien; Susan Mason; Patricia Hoey and our own Bridget Fitzpatrick (latter Thurles executive and courier for Richard Mulcahy and Michael Collins); Susan Killeen (secretary who worked with him in London); Eileen McGrane, Lady Edith Londonderry, and Hazel Lavery, totally ignored in various writings.

Indeed all these women worked with Collins as either trusted secretaries; incriminating document holders; providers of invaluable information or simply friends; thus these biographers exposed Collins to suspicions of being gay or misogynistic.

Close friend Moya O’Connor is noted, in 1942, as having stated “His friends who wrote about him have distorted him as much or more than his enemies”.

The Collins and Kiernan correspondence must surely now shed a completely different complexion on the private lives of both these young lovers.

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