Michael Collins

Michael Collins


Michael Collins - Revolutionary Leader of IrelandMichael Collins was born in Woodfield, Sam's Cross outside the town of Clonakilty in West Cork in 1890. He inherited his father's nationalistic outlook and was further influenced by his primary school teacher Denis Lyons who was a member of the IRB and also by the local blacksmith, James Santry. Collins spent time in the forge with Santry which was close to the primary school and he never forgot the stories he heard there about the struggle for Irish freedom. Little by little his siblings left home including his sister Hannie who went to London to work in the Post Office Savings Bank there.

Young Michael moved a few miles down the road to Clonakilty to live with his sister Margaret and her husband while he continued his education there. It was his mother's wish that the young Michael also secure a good job and so in 1905 he sat an examination for the Civil Service in London and when he was notified he had passed, he opted to take up a position in the same Post Office Savings Bank as his sister Hannie.

He took part in the 1916 Rising in Dublin and was imprisoned in Wales following his capture. He negotiated the Anglo Irish Treaty in 1921 which lead to the creation of the Irish Free State and ultimately lead to civil war in Ireland.Following the ratification of the Treaty of 1921, Collins became Chairman of the Provisional Government (effectively the Prime Minister) and later at the outbreak fo the Civil War following the occupation of the Four Courts in Dublin by anti-treaty forces, he assumed leadership of the Free State Army as its Commander-in-Chief.

He died on 22nd August 1922 at Beal na mBlath in County Cork when the convoy in which he was travelling was ambushed by anti-treaty forces on his way back to Cork City having spent the day visiting the Free State Army in West Cork; of which he was by then Commander in Chief. He visited the Eldon Hotel in Skibbereen on the afternoon of the 22nd August 1922 and had a meal there before continuing on his way towards his destiny at Beal na mBlath. There is a statue of him in Clonakilty which was unveiled by the actor Liam Neeson who played the title role in the film "Michael Collins" (1996) directed by Neil Jordan.

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