No. 85 NAI DE 5/52

Donal Hales to Michael Collins (Dublin)

Genoa, 27 May 1921

A Chara, I was invited on the 21st inst. to Bobbio to represent Ireland at the ordination and first mass of five Republican priests and got a great reception from the Rector, students etc. The Bishop who is of a noble Milanese family is a great supporter of Irish independence and has got all the people of his immense diocese to pray for the triumph of Ireland. He sent for me twice and in the course of the conversation declared he was certain of the complete success of the Irish cause. The Sinn Fein flag was flying out of the Cathedral tower and five little republican banners decorated the hall of the seminary. Columbanus (died 615) has done a lot of propaganda for Ireland in Italy. All the continental towns are full of records of the great Irish men of the early middle ages. It is a shame that we know so little about them. It is touching to hear the people of Bobbio call themselves 'irlandesi'. Really it should be regarded by us as an Irish national monument.

Recently while digging the pavement of the Church of Columbanus in order to construct two flights of steps to the beautiful tomb, a beautiful mosaic dating from the middle ages has been discovered. This extends probably under the whole floor of the church. The Italian Government immediately stopped the work and declared the mosaic a national monument, giving permission to the Bishop to continue on the condition that he should employ experts and men versed in such matters to complete the works. A sum of about 600 pounds would be required for the expenses and only 150 pounds has been as yet collected. I really am of the opinion that later on the Irish nation should finish the work and embellish the resting place of one of her greatest sons. Cardinal Logue has already erected a marble tomb which is artistic and under which the bones of about 27 Irish and French monks are deposited.

Please get the enclosed little article published in Eire Óg or the Independent as you prefer.

To my surprise a letter from 'Carlo' reached me yesterday. He seems to be most busy, and probably won't return to Italy for some time.

I have read in the Italian press of the destruction of the Custom House at Dublin. Also result of election. I sent cuttings about them to Frank J. Meagher. You will get them from him. Keen fighting in Egypt and elsewhere. No doubt you are in possession of mine of 18th etc.

Le meas mór,
Donal Hales

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