New album detailing Michael Collins’ relationship with Kitty Kiernan announced

April 24, 2023

An album based on the relationship between Michael Collins and Kitty Kiernan has been announced on the Irish revolutionary’s 100th anniversary.

General Collins, the Commander-in-Chief of the Free State Army, was gunned down in an ambush in Béal na Bláith, Co Cork on August 22, 1922 by Anti-Treaty forces. A ceremony commemorating his death was held in his native West Cork on Sunday, and was attended by thousands including the Taoiseach and Tánaiste.

To commemorate General Collins’ death, Sri-Lankan born and Dublin raised musician Mustafa Khetty will be releasing a concept album based on his life — with the first single ‘Will You Dance With Me,’ to symbolise his relationship with Kitty Kiernan, being released today (August 22).

Sri Lanka born-Irish composer Mustafa Khetty was inspired to give creative flesh to a protean soldier-statesman with few equals, in an ambitious concept album based around Collins’ passionate love affair with Kitty Kiernan.

The music is neoclassical, as for instance in the Overture, which adds Irish folk instrumentation – flute, harp and bodhrán drum. There is a Vivaldi like dance with elements of traditional music reflecting Kitty Kiernan’s pre-Collins life as a dance-loving socialite.

A funk/rap track to bring the hide and seek mischief of Michael Collins escapades with the British Intelligence. The music also takes much from the vaulting ambition of Mustafa’s beloved prog-rock, as some of theatre’s biggest hits, and their accompanying albums, have done before.

‘My approach is in the style of the ’70s epics, most of all by Andrew Lloyd Webber, for the way he mixed neoclassical and prog,’ Mr Khetty said, revealing that he’s enlisting the help of Emmet Cahill, the leading young tenor and Emer De Barra, the surreal glacier ice Celtic soprano as vocalists representing Michael Collins & Kitty Kiernan.

Irish actress, Claire O’Donovan, will play the narrator, while the Dublin Gospel Choir added their voices to backup vocals and in the Requiem.

The first track ahead of the album’s release on October 16, titled ‘Will You Dance With Me?’ embodies the first introduction of Michael to Kitty as she loved dancing. The romance was mostly by correspondence, with 300 letters exchanged between them and survives to this day, and occasional rendezvous.

The opening of the video for the song captures the sweet introduction between General Collins and Ms Kiernan — soft, romantic flowing into a vivacious Irish jig. It then transitions to the tragedy, the impending fate of never fulfilling their dream. It is choreographed by Lisa Watson with two award winning dancers, Abbie Doyle Byrne & Colm Brien and videographed by Nestor Clemente.

‘I look at Michael Collins as a world hero,’ Mr Khetty said. ‘The Irish embrace him as their own, aware of the magnitude of his achievements, capabilities and stature. He inspired Mahatma Gandhi, Che Guevara, Nelson Mandela and a stream of others who looked at him and his tactics in the Irish struggle.

‘He had brain, brawn and Adonis looks,’ Mr Khetty continued. ‘The more I find out about the extraordinary dexterity and depth of his capabilities, the more I’m flabbergasted.’

Mustafa Khetty moved to Ireland from Sri Lanka in 1971 aged 11, and has worked as a Wall Street analyst before venturing into tech as the PC boom hit. Music has been his first passion, however, and after working on The Morpheus Project’s Mozaick, he began work on the album on Michael Collins’ life — having spent two years working on the album and receiving input from his family.

‘I want to stay out of politics,’ Mustafa says of his work’s core, ‘and write a love story that makes this amenable to all sides. A lot of it is based around the 300 letters that Michael and Kitty wrote before and during the peace talks in London.’

This is just part of Mustafa’s exhaustive two years of research, much of it guided by members of the Michael Collins Society, in Dublin and Midlands including Collins relatives who ‘have given substantial personal information, handed down through generations.’


Torn in Love, Torn Apart: The Story of Michael Collins & Kitty Kiernan releases on October 16.


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