THE new Michael Collins statue planned for Cork City is set to be located on Grand Parade at almost the precise spot where the leading figure in the struggle for Irish independence gave a speech to an estimated crowd of 50,000 people more than a century ago.
Last September, a motion proposed by Fine Gael Councillor Shane O’Callaghan was passed by the members of Cork City Council, asking the local authority to facilitate the placing of a statue of Collins in the city centre, with the funds raised by the Michael Collins 100 Committee - a non-political organisation dedicated to honouring the legacy of Collins.
Following a number of meetings with City Council officials and members of the Collins 100 Committee, a decision has now been reached to locate the statue - which will be based on the iconic 1922 photograph of Collins with a Pierce bicycle - on Grand Parade close to the city library.
The site has historical links to Collins as on March 12, 1922 the so-called ‘Big Fella’ attended a Pro Treaty rally on Grand Parade with a number of his fellow Pro Treaty TDs.
That day, Collins delivered a passionate speech to a crowd of what was reported to have been around 50,000 people.
Chairman of the Michael Collins 100 Committee, Tim Crowley, said:
Renowned sculptor, Kevin Holland, has been commissioned to make the statue.
The North Cork based sculptor has created many pieces of public art, seen throughout the country, including the Michael Collins statue in Clonakilty, unveiled by Liam Neeson in 2002.
The new city centre statue was originally intended to be slightly over life size but, following the selection of the site, a decision has been made to make it a bit larger.
“Since we learned that this site is available – it’s a big open site obviously on the Grand Parade – we’ve been talking to the Council and we’ve come to the decision to make the statue slightly bigger so it will actually be 7ft to the top of the hat,” Mr Crowley said.
“Originally, we were saying maybe 6ft 4 – slightly over life size, Michael Collins was 5ft 11 – but we’re now going to go to the 7ft because otherwise it could be a bit lost in such an open space.
“The figure will be made of bronze but the bicycle will be made of stainless steel and then coated with bronze because the bronze wouldn’t be strong enough to support the whole thing.”
Cllr Shane O’Callaghan said he believed the location to be the “perfect site” for the new statue given the historical links, and also the plans for upgrades to the area under the Grand Parade Quarter project.
“One site in particular on Patrick Street was located as also being suitable but, given the historical and cultural significance of the Grand Parade site, it was a collective decision of both the Collins 100 Committee and the City Council Executive that Grand Parade would be the ideal site,” he added.
The new statue is planned to be unveiled on August 20, just before the 101st anniversary of Collins’ death.
Anyone who makes a donation can request and will receive a special commemorative certificate.
For further information or to make a donation see www.michaelcollinsstatue.com/.