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Irish nationalist hero Michael Collins has been voted Person of the 20th Century in an online poll carried out by the Irish Times newspaper.

Collins, a charismatic military leader and a key figure in the birth of the modern Irish state, took the number one spot ahead of Nelson Mandela, Gandhi and Mother Teresa after a month of voting that began in mid-December, the paper said Monday.

It said around 30,000 votes were registered in the poll, which allowed voters to type any name they wished instead of choosing from a predetermined list.

Collins, portrayed by Liam Neeson in Irish director Neil Jordan's 1996 biopic "Michael Collins," also topped the Irish Person of the Century category ahead of another founding father, Eamon de Valera, Northern Ireland nationalist politician John Hume, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and Irish Republican Army hunger striker Bobby Sands.

Literature categories in the poll were dominated by James Joyce, who was voted both Writer of the Century and Irish Writer of the Century, and whose masterpiece "Ulysses" was deemed Book of the Century ahead of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye."

Joyce was trailed by poet W.B. Yeats and playwright Samuel Beckett in the Irish writer category, and by John Updike, Tolkien, Yeats and John Steinbeck on the world list.

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