The new novel imagines the reaction of Collins’ chauffeur

By Emma Connolly and Pauline Murphy

AN EX Irish times reporter imagined what the driver of the car carrying Michael Collins might have seen on the day of his death.

In his new novel, Sean Hillen, former foreign correspondent of Irish timesuses a mysterious diary device found in the attic of an old stone cottage in Donegal, to reveal long-held secrets about Collins’ murder 100 years ago.

In his historical fiction, Hillen gives his own dramatic take on the tragic event that shaped Ireland’s future for generations.

“The shooting of Collins, the most popular man in Ireland at the time, remains the most notorious unsolved murder in the country,” said Hillen, whose book is available on Amazon.

“He could easily have been the leader of the nation, and unlike Eamon De Valera, who closely allied himself with the Catholic Church, Collins had little respect for the Church and more for socialist traditions than those who died on Easter 1916.

‘As such, Ireland could have been a very different country today if Collins had lived. Some high-ranking people were fully aware of this and with Collins winning the Civil War, it was important to them that he be eliminated, and fast.’

Hillen imagines a fictional diary, found in a Donegal cottage, around which much of the novel’s suspense revolves, was written by the driver of the armored car Collins was in when he was shot in the head, dying on the side of the road. Street. That driver saw everything that happened that fateful day, but he was afraid to speak out because of the omnipresent power and influence of those people who planned the ambush, Hillen writes.

Meanwhile, a stick of shillelagh that once belonged to the Big Fella sold for €4,000 in a recent auction. The stick is holed for hanging and has been passed down through the Collins family. It went under the hammer of Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers in County Kilkenny.

Accounts for the treaty negotiating team in London in 1921 were sold for €3,200. The two-page typescript included handwritten marginal notes by the meticulous Collins.

A short handwritten letter from Collins from 1919 sold for €2,100, while a letter from Collins from 1920, in which he sought information on an unnamed person of interest, sold for €3,900. An interesting item called ‘The Big Fella’s Seal of Approval’ – a hallmarked silver seal, two inches tall and engraved ‘MC’ sold for €4,800. It was used by Collins to seal state documents during his short time as head of the Irish Free State.

The highest price Collins paid for an item at auction was a cryptic letter he wrote in 1920. The letter, written on Irish Volunteers HQ paper, sold for €5,800.

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