Five work diaries belonging to Michael Collins, covering the periods immediately before and after the formation of the State, have been presented to Taoiseach Micheál Martin by members of the Collins family.

The pocket diaries, relating to the period from 1918 to Collins' death in 1922, contain details of meetings, events, appointments, engagements and other historical information, much of which has never been seen publicly before and is often secret in nature.

The diaries will be on long-term loan to the National Archives, where they will undergo conservation and preservation treatment before being archived.

They will also be digitised to enable access by historians and by the public.

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The presentation of the diaries to the Taoiseach took place at the birthplace of Michael Collins at Woodfield in Clonakilty today.

The site was reclaimed and preserved by Collins' older brother, Johnny, and was gifted to the State in 1990.

The diaries are described as being of major historical importance.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin is presented with the work diaries of Michael Collins by his grand-niece, Helen Collins, and grand-nephew, Maurice Collins

The Director of the National Archives said that historians will be able to learn "much, much more" both about the life of Michael Collins and the state of the nation from the diaries.

Orlaith McBride told RTÉ's News at One that the diaries are mostly work diaries, but they do reveal a little detail about 'Collins the man' and chart GAA matches he attended, as well as a number of dental appointments.

One particular entry in May 1918, she said, talks about how he evaded arrest and the entry on the following day notes that he will be going on the run.

Collins was a significant figure in the struggle for Irish independence.

As the IRA's Director of Intelligence, he established and ran a network of spies who operated within the British administration. He was a member of the first Dáil, and was minister of home affairs and later minister for finance. His diaries cover the period when he organised the Dáil loan, which financed that government.

He was a key figure in negotiating the Anglo-Irish Treaty in London in 1921. The treaty caused a split in the republican movement, leading to the Civil War.

Collins became commander-in-chief of the pro-treaty Free State Army. He was shot and killed by anti-treaty forces in an ambush at Béal na mBláth in his native Cork on 22 August 1922.

The centenary of his death occurs next year.

The National Archives said it would work with Cork County Council to provide digitised access to the diaries at the Michael Collins House museum in Clonakilty.

There will also be an agreed return of the diaries from August 2022 to mark the centenary of Michael Collins' death.

The Taoiseach said the diaries tell the story of one of the most turbulent periods in Irish history, through the day-to-day life of Collins in the four years before his death.

"There are many new discoveries that will be revealed through the diaries, which will now become part of the national collection at the National Archives," Mr Martin said.

"This will allow the public, scholars and researchers learn much more about the events leading up to and following the foundation of the State."

Mr Martin thanked the Collins family for their work with the National Archives to ensure the long-term preservation of the diaries.

Minister for Culture Catherine Martin described the diaries as an important legacy of a significant figure in Irish history.

"My role as minister with responsibility for commemorating this complex period in our history is that it is remembered appropriately, meaningfully and sensitively," she said.

"These diaries will offer the historical authenticity which is important for us all as we nurture a mutual and shared understanding of our past."

Michael Collins in the early 1920s

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the diaries gave a unique insight into an extraordinary life.

"This is a significant donation to the State from the Collins family and we thank them sincerely," Minister Coveney said.

"The family have always been generous in sharing with the Irish people the cherished belongings, documents and mementos of their uncle and granduncle. These diaries will act as a major research asset for historians of 20th century Ireland about pivotal moments of change in Irish history, particularly in the context of the Cork Decade of Centenaries commemorations and the revolutionary period."

Speaking of the donation, a spokesperson for the Collins family said: "These five work diaries of Michael Collins were given by our grandfather, Johnny Collins, to his son, our father, Liam Collins.

"We are delighted on his behalf to give these important records to the Irish people through the good offices of the National Archives. The family hope to involve Clonakilty in the public presentation of these diaries. This would be very important to our father."

The diaries will be deposited in the National Archives in Dublin, where work will begin on their conservation and digitisation.