Dev's shaving mug is acquired by museum

A DONATION to Limerick's Jim Kemmy Municipal Museum includes the prison issue shaving mug used by Eamon De Valera while interned in Lincoln Jail.

Also acquired by the museum is a matching shaving mug owned by Michael Colivet, TD for Limerick in the first Dail. It is part of a donation to the museum by Mr Colivet's family in Kildare, explained Brian Hodkinson, assistant curator at the Jim Kemmy Municpial Museum.

"His son Brian got in contact with us and asked if we were interested.

"On the day of the last big (Munster) match, he came down from Naas with a bootful of goodies. He asked us to just take what we wanted so we took it all. It's wonderful when you get a donation like this," Mr Hodkinson said.

"As well as the shaving mugs we have got Michael Colivet's Volunteers uniform jacket and cap and papers, not personal papers but paperwork to do with the Republican movement, leaflets for one of De Valera's election campaigns and things like that," Mr Hodkinson said.

"Colivet was an important figure in his own right. He was a colonel of the Irish Volunteers and would have led them out to Killonan in 1916. He was later voted in as Sinn Fein MP for Limerick but like a lot of others was probably in prison when the first Dail met."

De Valera was still in Lincoln Prison when the first Dail met in January 1919. His famous escape from the jail, aided by Michael Collins, occurred a month later.

The Long Fellow left his shaving mug behind but it was picked up by Michael Colivet and remained in the possession of the family for 90 years.

"We can see that Michael Colivet's mug has an arrow symbol, the convict arrow, on it with Prison Commission in a circle around it. And on the base we see it was made by Minton, the potters, with a crown symbol with PC – or Prison Commission – written on it.

De Valera's mug also has PC written on it. We don't know if this was given to him by de Valera or whether he just picked it up when de Valera walked out of prison. But is has been handed down in the family and now we are delighted it has been donated to the museum," Mr Hodkinson said.

After leaving prison, Michael Colivet was re-elected as a TD in 1921 and voted against the Anglo-Irish Treaty. He attacked Collins' acceptance of dominion status during a Dail debate, stating: "I have declared myself a Republican, and have been elected a Republican, and I will never willingly become a subject of the British Empire."

He was re-elected in 1922 but did not take his seat as he failed to recognise the third Dail and became part of De Valera's Anti-Treaty Republican government alternative to the Free State.

Mr Hodkinson said further work had to be done before the items went on public display and this could take a few months.


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