Even if you don’t know much of Irish History you have probably heard the name Michael Collins. Collins was born in 1890 in County Cork, Ireland. This is the heartland of the Fenian movement. Collins joined Sinn Fein, Gaelic League, and the IRB in 1909.  Collins was a brilliant Military man. He was heavily involved in the 1916 uprising in Dublin. He had a great mind for military tactics and practices. He became a high ranking member in the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and the Irish Citizens Army (ICA). The IRB created the Irish Volunteers in response to the Ulster Volunteers (UVF). The Easter Rising would be his first appearance in National Events. Collins served at The General Post Office In Dublin. This was the Headquarters of the rebellion.There he fought alongside Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, and other members of the Rising leadership. After they surrendered to the British, Collins was arrested. He ultimately was released. On November 21st, 1920, the IRA killed 14 British officers in the Secret Service. In reprisal, the British Army sent armoured vehicles onto the pitch at Croke Park where people were watching a football match, and opened fire on them. Twelve people were killed. Eamonn de Valera, considered to be the leading republican politician in Ireland, sent Collins to London in October 1921 to negotiate a treaty. It was generally recognised by both sides that the situation as it stood in Ireland could not be allowed to continue. The difficult negotiations took three months before the treaty was signed by Collins and Arthur Griffiths. In December 1921, it was agreed that Ireland should have dominion status within the British Empire; i.e. that Ireland could govern itself but remain within the British Empire. The six northern counties were allowed to contract out of the treaty and remain part of the United Kingdom. To Collins, the treaty was simply the start of a process that, in his eyes, would lead to full independence for what was now the Irish Free State. Michael Collins arrived in Dublin Castle on 16th January 1922 to receive the handover of the Castle on behalf of the new Irish Free State Government. Lord Lieutenant FitzAlan is reported to have said, “You are seven minutes late Mr. Collins” to which he received the reply “We’ve been waiting over seven hundred years, you can have the extra seven minutes”. The Dublin playwright Séan O’ Casey, described how FitzAlan handed over Dublin Castle and seemed to be doing it as if in a dream: “here’s the key to the throne room, and this one’s the key of St. Patrick’s Hall, my good man”. On August 22nd, 1922, Collins journeyed to County Cork. He was due to meet troops of the new Irish Army. His car was ambushed at a place called Beal na mBlath and Collins was shot dead. To this day, no-one is completely sure what happened or who killed him. No-one else was killed in the ambush. Collins’ body lay in state in Dublin for three days and thousands paid their respects. Thousands also lined the streets for his funeral procession.

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