Michael Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader who, in his short lifetime, became a hero of Ireland’s struggle for independence. He played a central role in directing a daring campaign of guerrilla warfare throughout the Anglo-Irish war from 1919 to 1921. Collins was Chairman of the Irish government and Commander-in-chief of the National Army when he was assassinated in 1922 during the Irish Civil War.
Michael James Collins was born at Woodfield, Clonakilty, Co. Cork in October 1890. He was educated at his local national school and at Clonakilty Secondary School. In 1906 he sat the British Civil Service examination in Cork city and moved to London to work at the Post Office. In London he lived with his sister. He left the Post Office in 1910 to work in an accountancy firm and later in an American bank. He also studied law at King’s College London. During his time in London he joined the IRB and was elected secretary of the Gaelic League.
After nine years in London Collins returned to Dublin in order to avoid conscription. He worked at the accountancy firm Craig Gardiner but spent much of his time drilling troops at volunteer training camps. During the Rising of 1916 he served as aide-de-camp to Joseph Plunkett in the GPO in Dublin. After the rising he was interned at Frongoch in Wales but was released in December 1916. In the General Election of 1918 Collins was elected MP for Cork South and for Tyrone. He played a leading role in the War of Independence which lasted until a truce was declared on July 11th 1921.
Collins strenuously resisted his appointment as one of the Irish delegates to negotiate an Anglo-Irish Treaty. He eventually agreed to travel to London for the negotiations. The delegates were designated as “plenipotentiaries”, meaning they had the full authority to sign a treaty which would then have to be ratified by Dáil Éireann. The treaty was signed on December 6th 1921 and ratified by Dáil Éireann on January 7th 1922. Those who lost the vote in parliament and were opposed to the treaty were led by Éamon de Valera. They walked out of parliament, took arms in opposition to the treaty and civil war ensued.
Towards the end of the civil war Collins went on an inspection tour of the South. On August 22nd 1922 his convoy was ambushed about 16km east of the town of Macroom at Béal na mBláth in County Cork. During the ambush Collins was shot and died almost immediately. He was just thirty-two years old. His funeral in Dublin was attended by an estimated half a million people. He is buried in Glasnevin cemetery.
Michael Collins was born near Clonakilty, Co Cork in the year 1890 On This Day.
Michael Collins (centre) August 16th 1922
Good Times by National Library of Ireland on The Commons on 1921-09-11 08:48:34
Michael Collins Grave by IrishFireside on 2010-07-22 18:52:03