The owner of a lock of Michael Collins' hair taken from his body when he was lying in state has decided to withdraw the item from auction tomorrow.

The owner will instead donate it to the National Museum of Ireland.

RTÉ News understands that following criticism of the planned sale by Michael Collins' grandniece, Mary Banotti, on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning, the vendor contacted Adam's Auctioneers in Dublin and told them they had decided to gift the artefact to the museum.

The vendor's identity has remained a secret, but is understood not to be a descendant of the Civil War leader.

However, the souvenir was previously owned by Collins' elder sister, Kitty, who removed it from her brother as he lay in state in City Hall in 1922. She later gave it to a friend in the 1950s.

The item carried a guide price of around €5,000, but Adams believed it could have reached up to €20,000, such is the demand for Michael Collins related memorabilia.

But Ms Banotti, a former MEP, said she and other descendants of Michael Collins were appalled by plans to sell it. She suggested it should be buried in Collins’ grave in Glasnevin Cemetery with the rest of his remains.

The Director of Adam’s Auctioneers, Stuart Cole, said the vendor's motives for selling the item were never financial.

He said the vendor is elderly and was more concerned that the hair found a good home, and avoided being lost or thrown away, and that is why they had decided it should go to the museum.

Head of Collections at the National Museum, Raghnall Ó Floinn, welcomed the donation, saying it was the type of material that was best held in a museum.

He said it was probably not material that was appropriate for sale or display in inappropriate locations.

Mr Ó Floinn said it was not the type of material that the museum would go out and seek to collect. But, he said, it would be assessed in the context of the museum's wider collection of Collins memorabilia.

Despite tonight's development, another equally controversial piece of Michael Collins memorabilia remains for sale.

A swab of lint and cotton wool, used to clean Collins' face after his death, is due to be sold at auction by Mealy's Rare Books in Kilkenny next week.

This evening, a spokesman for Mealy's said that despite the controversy the item remained for sale, as its owner wished to preserve its future.