Michael Collins plaque unveiling event

Heritage plaque for Irish Nationalist leader Michael Collins unveiled in Islington

Working with the Terence MacSwiney Committee, Islington Council has unveiled a plaque dedicated to Michael Collins, an Irish Nationalist leader who campaigned and fought for Irish independence in the early 20th Century.

The plaque was unveiled on Friday 14 July in Barnsbury Street, at the site of the former Barnsbury Hall, where Collins was initiated into the secret organisation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, in 1909.

Collins went on to become a well-known figure in the independence movement, both through the original Irish Republican Army and the political party Sinn Féin. He was also a key figure in the negotiation of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which established the Irish Free State in 1922.

In Ireland today, Collins is seen by many as a unifying figure. At a ceremony marking the centenary of his death in August 2022, Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin gave a speech asserting that Collins should “be remembered as one of the greatest Irishmen to have ever lived.”

The unveiling event was attended by politicians from both London and Ireland, highlighting the council’s commitment to celebrating the cultural diversity of the borough, and the huge contributions of the local Irish community.

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Leader of Islington Council, said: “The Irish community in Islington has contributed so much to our borough over many decades. In recent months we have unveiled the mural at Navigator Square to celebrate our Irish community and this plaque for Michael Collins is another example of our recognition. Migrant communities make up so much of our borough so it is vital that we celebrate their contribution and our diversity.”

Martin Fraser, Irish Ambassador to the UK, said: “The Irish community in London has a long and proud history. It is fitting that this plaque will reflect how living in London shaped Michael Collins’ political outlook, which in turn had great influence in the foundation of the Irish State. It is important to recognise those key moments in our history and the strong contribution of our Irish community here in London .”

The council has now installed more than 50 plaques at different locations across the borough, showcasing its rich and colourful heritage through the stories of notable historical people, places, and events.

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