In June 1922, Kitty Kiernan wrote considered one of her most passionate letters to her fiancé, Michael Collins.
t has led historians to invest about whether or not the couple ever had intercourse throughout their brief relationship, or abstained from the “sins of the flesh”, as religious Catholics.
Kitty wrote: “Final night time was an actual wedding ceremony night time for you and me. Didn’t you are feeling that means too, however couldn’t put it into phrases? I needed to run away with you. That have to be the sensation with individuals who do run away like that. We had it final night time. That was our night time. Glad right this moment, for each you and me, that I didn’t go. Isn’t this proper? Inform me. Do – am I not proper? Heaps of kisses that it is best to have gotten yesterday, and heaps and heaps of hugs and love and love and hugs and kisses. Your personal little pet, Package.”
One biographer of the Large Fella, Peter Hart, expressed doubts about whether or not this passage actually affords proof that that they had an evening of ardour.
He wonders why, in the event that they did have intercourse, she sends him “heaps of kisses that it is best to have gotten yesterday”.
One other biographer, James MacKay, fashioned the view from the letters that this love was given bodily expression as regularly as doable.
Kitty was rather more open in her emotions than Collins within the tons of of letters they exchanged between 1920 and 1922.
In the summertime of 1922, she wrote: “I virtually shudder on the considered the power
of my love, what I do
consider I’m able to feeling and that with out you, life held nothing for me.”
Though his affection for Kitty is clear in his aspect of the correspondence, Collins is maybe extra guarded within the information that the letters might be intercepted by his adversaries – and used to embarrass him.
Collins and Kiernan had met in 1917, when his celebration Sinn Féin was campaigning within the Longford South by-election.
Kitty was considered one of 4 sisters who labored within the Greville Arms Resort in Longford.
Collins was among the many Sinn Féin activists staying within the lodge, and initially he was drawn to Kitty’s sister, Helen.
However the consideration of Collins turned to Kitty when Helen declared her affections for a neighborhood solicitor.
The issue was that Kitty was initially interested in Collins’s buddy and fellow revolutionary, Harry Boland, who ultimately proposed to her.
Complicating issues even additional, Kitty was additionally briefly engaged to a 3rd man, Lionel Lyster, however he was dumped.
In the long run, it was Collins who received Kitty’s affection whereas Boland was conveniently away within the US.
She wrote to Collins: “Why not marry the one I actually love, and what a cowardly factor of me to be afraid to marry the one I actually love, and who loves me simply in addition to any of the others I had considered marrying?”
A lot of their courtship befell at a distance, with Collins over in London on the Treaty talks of 1921, and Boland’s place because the loser within the love triangle was solely lastly resolved on the finish of that yr.
The engagement between Kitty and Michael turned public in uncommon circumstances through the Treaty debate at first of 1922, when Countess Constance Markievicz made the outlandish suggestion that Collins was having an affair with a member of the British royal household, Princess Mary.
Collins responded indignantly within the Dáil: “I do know nothing of her in any means no matter, however the assertion could trigger her ache, and will trigger ache to the girl who’s betrothed to me.”
After this public assertion that he was to be married, Collins instantly dispatched an specific letter to Kitty, following up on this assertion: “My Dearest Kitty, It will attain you earlier than the letters I despatched right this moment. My expensive, expensive Kitty, see the references to your self and Princess Mary of England.
“My betrothed, My fondest love, Michael.”
In an essay within the Jesuit journal Research, Mary Kenny confirmed how the letters reveal the non secular aspect of each Collins and Kiernan.
Whereas in London for the prolonged Treaty talks, he wrote to her about going to day by day mass at Brompton Oratory, and lighting candles for her.
On October 13, 1921, Kiernan wrote to Collins: “Will you retain your promise it doesn’t matter what occurs to go to confession and communion? If I believed you’ll I’d really feel fairly content material and happy.”
Collins replied: “It’s a queer factor however I really feel very like that (about confession and communion) and I’ve usually felt that it required somebody such as you to make me admire the factor correctly.”
On October 16, Kitty encourages him: “Delighted you went to mass… and the candle wasn’t forgotten.”
Was it only a pious section on the a part of Collins, designed to impress her?
There have been definitely loads of rumours linking him with different ladies together with the London society hostess, Woman Lavery, whose picture later appeared on the Irish pound notes.
And Kitty refers jokingly in a single letter to Collins’s “fairly lady secretaries”.
Moya Llewelyn-Davies, a republican supporter who ghost-wrote a guide for Collins, boasted of being Collins’s lover.
In accordance with Tim Pat Coogan’s biography of Collins, Llewelyn-Davies mentioned that on the night time Collins realized that Éamon de Valera was to reject the Treaty: “He was so upset that I gave myself to him.”
Of their letters, Collins and Kiernan reveal their doubts, anxieties and insecurities about their relationship.
However had he escaped the ambush at Béal na Bláth on August 22, Collins would perhaps have married Kitty Kiernan two months later. A date was set for October 20.
However as an alternative of getting a marriage bouquet, she was left to mourn the Large Fella’s passing with a single white lily left on his coffin.
Within the area of simply three weeks, each Collins and Harry Boland have been shot on reverse sides within the Civil Conflict.