Michael Collins statue backed by crowd-funding unveiled in Cork city

Statue depicting ‘Big Fella’ with his bicycle was created by the sculptor behind a monument to Collins in Clonakilty

A statue of Michael Collins has been unveiled on the Grand Parade in Cork city, the scene of one of his most famous public orations.

The near lifesize statue depicts Collins standing alongside a bicycle, a nostalgic nod to a photograph of him taken with a Pierce bicycle in Wexford in 1922.

The statue is a reminder of the time when Collins used to cycle around Dublin despite there being a bounty on his head.

Sculptor Kevin Holland was commissioned to create the new statue. The piece is being described as a “monument for the people, from the people” funded through a crowd-funding scheme spearheaded by the Michael Collins 100 committee.


The name of every person who made a contribution to the fundraising drive is in a “time capsule” which has been placed in the plinth of the statue. Holland also created a statue of Collins in Clonakilty, west Cork.

Members of the Collins family and the Michael Collins 100 committee were in attendance at the unveiling which attracted huge crowds. Sporting greats Ronan O’Gara, Jimmy Barry Murphy and Rena Buckley were on hand to carry out the ceremonies duties.

The armoured car “Sliabh na mBan” from the convoy that made the historic journey on the day of Michael Collins’ death was also on show.

Cork singer-songwriter John Spillane performed a new song about Michael Collins which he sang in public for the first time.

The statue has been set at ground level, as a nod to Collins running the War of Independence among the people, inside a stone surround of carved limestone paving with information on Collins’s life.

The site was chosen as it has historical links to Collins. On March 12th, 1922, the Big Fella attended a rally on Grand Parade. That day he delivered a passionate speech to a reported crowd of 50,000.

Collins’s convoy would have also passed the spot early on the morning of August 22nd, 1922, on his journey from the Imperial Hotel, where he spent his last night, en route to Béal na Bláth where he was shot dead later that day. It is also possible that his body passed the location in the early hours of the following morning.

Fidelma Collins, grandniece of Michael Collins and his closest living relative, said she was thrilled to attend the unveiling.

“The Michael Collins 100 committee were superb and a driving force to work with. Thank you to everyone who made this happen.”

Michael Collins 100 Committee chairman Tim Crowley said that they were honoured to have three Cork sporting legends on hand to unveil the statue.

“They are all extraordinary people in their own right like Collins himself. It [getting the statue in place] has taken an awful lot of hard work with the Michael Collins committee and with Cork City Council have been incredible.

“I think it is hugely important [to have a statue of Collins] in Cork city centre.”

Among those in attendance was Minister for Finance Michael McGrath who said he was delighted to see a statue of Collins in place in the Grand Parade.

“I think it is important and it is appropriate that his [Collins] role in a securing Irish independence and the formation of our State would be acknowledged and recognised.”