THE CAP Michael Collins wore on the day he was assassinated at Beal na mBlath was removed from public display at the National Museum of Ireland after curators noticed visible blood stains and brain residue on the hat, it’s been revealed.
Dr Audrey Whittey, Keeper of the Art and Industrial Division at the museum, told the Irish Examiner that the decision was made out of respect for the descendants of Collins over a decade ago.
The cap had previously been on display, alongside the greycoat Collins was wearing, at the museum in Kildare Street in Dublin.
Part of the museum’s Collins exhibition, the hat was only removed from public display after the exhibition was moved to Collins Barracks in 2006.
Curators felt its removal was in line with “modern” museum ethics and that its absence did little to impact the story of what unfolded at Beal na mBlath.
"The cap is no longer on display and one of the reasons is due to the sensitivity of General Collins’s blood and organic matter on the object, which is an integral part of the artefact itself," Whitty told the Irish Examiner.
Collins was assassinated by anti-treaty forces on August 22nd, 1922, as part of an ambush in County Cork.
"The blood on the greatcoat is more subtle and not as graphic and it has the mud from the scene that day at Beal na mBlath," Dr Whittey added.
"Curators, in taking the decision on the cap, realised the coat, with the mud stains and blood, would have told the story on its own, regardless," she added.
Despite revealing the cap is no longer on display, Dr Whitty was keen to note that it had been preserved and is free to be viewed by visitors – provided they book an appointment prior to arrival.
The news comes just a few months after letters Collins wrote to his fiancee Kitty Kiernan went up for auction.