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, image = Michael Collins.jpg , image_size = , caption = Collins as Minister for Finance in 1920 , office2 =
Chairman of the Provisional Government The Chairman of the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State was a transitional post established in January 1922, lasting until the creation of the Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 ...
, termstart2 = 16 January , termend2 = 22 August 1922 , preceded2 = ''Office created'' , succeeded2 =
W. T. Cosgrave William Thomas Cosgrave (6 June 1880 – 16 November 1965) was an Irish Fine Gael politician who served as President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State from 1922 to 1932, Leader of the Opposition The Leader of the Opposition is a ...
, office3 =
Minister for Finance A finance minister is an executive or Cabinet (government), cabinet position in charge of one or more of government finances, economic policy and financial regulation. A finance minister's Ministry (government department), portfolio has a large v ...
, termstart3 = 2 April 1919 , termend3 = 22 August 1922 , preceded3 =
Eoin MacNeill Eoin MacNeill ( ga, Eoin Mac Néill; born John MacNeill; 15 May 1867 – 15 October 1945) was an Irish scholar, Irish language Irish ( in Standard Irish Standard may refer to: Symbols * Colours, standards and guidons, kinds of milita ...

Eoin MacNeill
, succeeded3 = W. T. Cosgrave , office4 =
Minister for Home Affairs An interior ministry (sometimes called ministry of internal affairs or ministry of home affairs) is a ministry (government), government ministry responsible for internal affairs, particularly public security, emergency management, civil registr ...
, termstart4 = 22 January , termend4 = 1 April 1919 , preceded4 = New office , succeeded4 =
Arthur Griffith Arthur Joseph Griffith ( ga, Art Seosamh Ó Gríobhtha; 31 March 1871 – 12 August 1922) was an Irish writer, newspaper editor and politician who founded the political party Sinn Féin. He led the Irish delegation at the negotiations that prod ...

Arthur Griffith
, office5 =
Teachta Dála A Teachta Dála ( , ; plural ), abbreviated as TD (plural ''TDanna'' in Irish, TDs in English), is a member of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas (the Irish Parliament). It is the equivalent of terms such as ''Member of Parliamen ...
, termstart5 = May 1921 , termend5 = August 1922 , constituency5 = , termstart6 = December 1918 , termend6 = May 1921 , constituency6 = Cork South , office7 =
President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood
President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood
, term_start7 = November 1920 , term_end7 = 22 August 1922 , predecessor7 =
Patrick Moylett Patrick Moylett (1878–1973) was a 20th-century Irish nationalist who, during the initial armistice negotiations to end the Irish War of Independence, briefly served as president of the Irish Republican Brotherhood during late-1920. A successful ...
, successor7 =
Richard Mulcahy page=32, alt=Military intelligence file for Richard Mulcahy, Military intelligence file for Richard Mulcahy Richard James Mulcahy (10 May 1886 – 16 December 1971) was an Irish Fine Gael Fine Gael (, ; English English usually refers to ...

Richard Mulcahy
, birth_date = , birth_place = Woodfield,
County Cork County Cork ( ga, Contae Chorcaí) is the largest and the southernmost county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first ...
, Ireland , death_date = , death_place = Béal na Bláth, County Cork, Ireland , party =
Sinn Féin Sinn Féin ( , ; en, "eOurselves") is an Irish republican and democratic socialist political party active throughout Ireland; both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The History of Sinn Féin, original Sinn Féin organisation wa ...

Sinn Féin
(pro-treaty faction) , relatives =
Margaret Collins-O'Driscoll Margaret Collins-O'Driscoll (16 August 1876 – 17 June 1945) was an Irish Fine Gael politician who served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin North (Dáil constituency), Dublin North constituency from 1923 to 1933. She was the first Cumann na ...
(sister)
Nora Owen Nora Owen (; born 1 June 1945) is an Irish former Fine Gael politician who served as Minister for Justice (Ireland), Minister for Justice from 1994 to 1997 and Leader of Fine Gael#Deputy leaders, Deputy Leader of Fine Gael from 1993 to 2001. She ...
(grand-niece) , signature = Michael Collins signature.png , allegiance = , rank =
Commander-in-chief A commander-in-chief or supreme commander is the person who exercises supreme command and control Command and control is a "set of organizational and technical attributes and processes ... hat A collection of 18th and 19th century men' ...
, serviceyears = 1909–1922 , battles = Michael Collins ( ga, Mícheál Ó Coileáin; 16 October 1890 – 22 August 1922) was an Irish revolutionary, soldier and politician who was a leading figure in the early-20th century struggle for Irish independence. He was
Chairman of the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State The Chairman of the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State was a transitional post established in January 1922, lasting until the creation of the Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 ...
from January 1922, and commander-in-chief of the National Army from July until his death in an ambush in August 1922, during the
Civil War A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine publis ...
. Collins was born in Woodfield,
County Cork County Cork ( ga, Contae Chorcaí) is the largest and the southernmost county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first ...
, the youngest of eight children. He moved to London in 1906 to become a clerk in the
Post Office Savings Bank Post Office Savings Bank is a name used by postal savings systems in several countries, including: * New Zealand, later renamed the PostBank * United Kingdom, later renamed the National Savings and Investments * Singapore, later renamed POSB Bank * ...
at
Blythe House Blythe House is a listed building located at 23 Blythe Road, West Kensington, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham () is a London boroughs, London borough in West London and which also forms ...

Blythe House
. He was a member of the
London GAA The London County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) ( ga, Cumann Lúthchleas Gael, Coiste Londain) or London GAA is one of the County (Gaelic games), county boards outside Ireland, and is responsible for Gaelic games in London. The c ...
, through which he became associated with the
Irish Republican Brotherhood The Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB; ) was a secret oath-bound fraternal organisation dedicated to the establishment of an "independent democratic republic" in Ireland between 1858 and 1924.McGee, p. 15. Its counterpart in the United States ...
and the
Gaelic League (; historically known in English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually b ...
. He returned to Ireland in January 1916 and fought in the
Easter Rising The Easter Rising ( ga, Éirí Amach na Cásca), also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed insurrection Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of ...
. He was taken prisoner and held in the
Frongoch internment camp Frongoch internment camp at Frongoch Frongoch is a village located in Gwynedd Gwynedd (; ) is a county in Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is Countries of the United Kingdom, part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by ...
as a
prisoner of war A prisoner of war (POW) is a non-combatant Non-combatant is a term of art Jargon is the specialized terminology associated with a particular field or area of activity. Jargon is normally employed in a particular Context (language use), c ...
, but he was released in December 1916. Collins subsequently rose through the ranks of the
Irish Volunteers The Irish Volunteers ( ga, Óglaigh na hÉireann Óglaigh na hÉireann (), abbreviated ÓÉ, is an Irish-language Irish (also called in Standard Irish) is a Goidelic language of the Insular Celtic branch of the Celtic language f ...
and
Sinn Féin Sinn Féin ( , ; en, "eOurselves") is an Irish republican and democratic socialist political party active throughout Ireland; both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The History of Sinn Féin, original Sinn Féin organisation wa ...

Sinn Féin
. He was elected as a
Teachta Dála A Teachta Dála ( , ; plural ), abbreviated as TD (plural ''TDanna'' in Irish, TDs in English), is a member of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas (the Irish Parliament). It is the equivalent of terms such as ''Member of Parliamen ...
for South Cork in
1918 This year is noted for the end of the First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed co ...
and appointed
Minister for Finance A finance minister is an executive or Cabinet (government), cabinet position in charge of one or more of government finances, economic policy and financial regulation. A finance minister's Ministry (government department), portfolio has a large v ...
in the
First Dáil The First Dáil ( ga, An Chéad Dáil) was Dáil Éireann (Irish Republic), Dáil Éireann as it convened from 1919 to 1921. It was the first meeting of the Unicameralism, unicameral Legislature, parliament of the revolutionary republic, revolut ...
. He was present when the Dáil convened on 21 January 1919 and of the
Irish Republic The Irish Republic ( ga, Poblacht na hÉireann or ) was an unrecognised revolutionary state that declared its independence from the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the Unite ...

Irish Republic
. In the ensuing
War of Independence Conflicts called war of independence or independence war include: * Algerian War of Independence The Algerian War, also known as the Algerian Revolution or the Algerian War of Independence,( ar, الثورة الجزائرية '; '' ber, Tagr ...
, he was Director of Organisation and Adjutant General for the Irish Volunteers, and Director of Intelligence of the
Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary organisations in Ireland throughout the 20th and the 21st centuries. Organisations going by this name have been dedicated to irredentism through Irish republicanism, the be ...
. He gained fame as a
guerrilla warfare Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare Irregular warfare (IW) is defined in United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States ...
strategist, planning and directing many successful attacks on British forces, such as the "Bloody Sunday" assassinations of key British intelligence agents in November 1920. After the July 1921 ceasefire, Collins was one of five plenipotentiaries sent by the Dáil cabinet led by
Éamon de Valera Éamon de Valera (, ; first registered as ''George de Valero''; changed some time before 1901 to ''Edward de Valera''; 14 October 1882 – 29 August 1975) was a prominent statesman and political leader in 20th-century Ireland. He served severa ...

Éamon de Valera
to negotiate peace terms in London. The resulting
Anglo-Irish Treaty The 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty ( ga , An Conradh Angla-Éireannach), commonly known as The Treaty and officially the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was an agreement between the government of the United Kingd ...
, signed in December 1921, established the
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of St ...
but depended on an
oath of allegiance An oath of allegiance is an oath Traditionally an oath (from Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior Behavior (Amer ...
to
the Crown The Crown is the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

the Crown
. This was the clause in the treaty de Valera and other republican leaders found hardest to accept. Collins viewed the treaty as offering "the freedom to achieve freedom", and persuaded a majority in the Dáil to ratify the treaty. A
provisional government A provisional government, also called an interim government, an emergency government, or a transitional government, is an emergency government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally ...
was formed under his
chairmanship The chairperson (also chair, chairman, or chairwoman) is the presiding officer of an organized group such as a Board of directors, board, committee, or deliberative assembly. The person holding the office, who is typically elected or appointed b ...
in early 1922 but was soon disrupted by the
Irish Civil War The Irish Civil War ( ga, Cogadh Cathartha na hÉireann; 28 June 1922 – 24 May 1923) was a conflict that followed the Irish War of Independence and accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State, an entity independent from the United ...
, in which Collins was
commander-in-chief A commander-in-chief or supreme commander is the person who exercises supreme command and control Command and control is a "set of organizational and technical attributes and processes ... hat A collection of 18th and 19th century men' ...
of the National Army. He was shot and killed in an ambush by anti-Treaty forces on 22 August 1922.


Early years

Collins was born in Woodfield, Sam's Cross, near
Clonakilty Clonakilty (; ), sometimes shortened to Clon, is a town in County Cork County Cork ( ga, Contae Chorcaí) is the largest and the southernmost county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other pur ...
,
County Cork County Cork ( ga, Contae Chorcaí) is the largest and the southernmost county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first ...
, on 16 October 1890, the third son and youngest of eight children. His father, Michael John (1816–1897), was a farmer and amateur mathematician, who had been a member of the
Irish Republican Brotherhood The Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB; ) was a secret oath-bound fraternal organisation dedicated to the establishment of an "independent democratic republic" in Ireland between 1858 and 1924.McGee, p. 15. Its counterpart in the United States ...
(IRB) movement. The elder Collins was 60 years old when he married Mary Anne O'Brien, then 23, in 1876. The marriage was apparently happy. They brought up eight children on a farm called Woodfield, which the Collins family had held as tenants for several generations. Michael was six years old when his father died. He was a bright and precocious child with a fiery temper and a passionate feeling of Irish patriotism. He named a local
blacksmith A blacksmith is a metalsmith A metalsmith or simply smith is a craftsperson fashioning useful items (for example, tools, kitchenware, tableware, jewellery, and weapons) out of various metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέτ ...

blacksmith
, James Santry, and his headmaster at Lisavaird National School, Denis Lyons, as the first nationalists to personally inspire his "pride of Irishness". Lyons was a member of the IRB, while Santry's family had participated in, and forged arms for, the rebellions of 1798, 1848 and 1867.Coogan, T. P. ''Michael Collins'', London; Arrow Books, 1991, . There are a number of anecdotal explanations for the origin of his nickname "the Big Fellow". His family claim that he was called this as a child, as a term of endearment for an adventitious and bold youngest brother. The nickname was established by his teens, long before he became a political or military leader. At the age of thirteen he attended Clonakilty National School. During the week he stayed with his sister
Margaret Collins-O'Driscoll Margaret Collins-O'Driscoll (16 August 1876 – 17 June 1945) was an Irish Fine Gael politician who served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin North (Dáil constituency), Dublin North constituency from 1923 to 1933. She was the first Cumann na ...
and her husband Patrick O'Driscoll, while at weekends he returned to the family farm. Patrick O'Driscoll founded the newspaper ''West Cork People'' and Collins helped out with general reporting and preparing the issues. Leaving school at fifteen, Collins took the
British Civil Service Her Majesty's Home Civil Service, also known as Her Majesty's Civil Service or the Home Civil Service, is the permanent bureaucracy The term bureaucracy () may refer both to a body of non-elected governing officials and to an administrati ...
examination in Cork in February 1906"Examining Irish leader's youthful past"
, ''
BBC News BBC News is an operational business division of the British Broadcasting Corporation The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster Public broadcasting involves radio Radio is the technology of signali ...

BBC News
''
and moved to the home of his sister Hannie in
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

London
, where he became a boy clerk in the
Post Office Savings Bank Post Office Savings Bank is a name used by postal savings systems in several countries, including: * New Zealand, later renamed the PostBank * United Kingdom, later renamed the National Savings and Investments * Singapore, later renamed POSB Bank * ...
at
Blythe House Blythe House is a listed building located at 23 Blythe Road, West Kensington, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham () is a London boroughs, London borough in West London and which also forms ...

Blythe House
. In 1910 he became a messenger at a London firm of
stockbrokers A stockbroker is a regulated broker, broker-dealer, or registered investment adviser (in the United States) who may provide financial advisory and investment management services and execute transactions such as the purchase or sale of stocks and ...
, Horne and Company. While living in London he studied law at
King's College London King's College London (informally King's or KCL) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or ...
but did not finish. He joined the
London GAA The London County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) ( ga, Cumann Lúthchleas Gael, Coiste Londain) or London GAA is one of the County (Gaelic games), county boards outside Ireland, and is responsible for Gaelic games in London. The c ...
and, through this, the IRB.
Sam Maguire Samuel Maguire (11 March 1877 – 6 February 1927) was an Irish republican and Gaelic football player. He is chiefly remembered as the eponym of the Sam Maguire Cup, given to the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, All-Ireland Senior Cha ...

Sam Maguire
, a republican from
Dunmanway Dunmanway (, official Irish name: ) is a market town in County Cork, in the southwest of Republic of Ireland, Ireland. It is the geographical centre of the region known as West Cork. It is the birthplace of Sam Maguire, an Irish Protestant republ ...
, County Cork, introduced the 19-year-old Collins to the IRB. In 1915 he moved to work in the
Guaranty Trust Company of New York J.P. Morgan & Co. was a Commercial banking, commercial and investment banking institution founded by J. P. Morgan in 1871. The company was a predecessor of three of the largest banking institutions in the world—JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, ...
where he remained until his return to Ireland the following year joining part-time ''Craig Gardiner & Co'', a firm of accountants in
Dawson Street Dawson Street (; ) is a street on the southern side of central Dublin Dublin (; , or ) is the capital and largest city of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;" ...
,
Dublin Dublin (; , or ) is the capital and largest city of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain_ ...

Dublin
.


Easter Rising

The struggle for
Home Rule Home rule is government of a colony, dependent country, or region by its own citizens. It is thus the power of a part (administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative ...
, along with labour unrest, had led to the formation in 1913 of two major nationalist paramilitary groups who later launched the
Easter Rising The Easter Rising ( ga, Éirí Amach na Cásca), also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed insurrection Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of ...
: the
Irish Citizen Army The Irish Citizen Army (), or ICA, was a small paramilitary Paramilitary forces usually tend to wear similar but different uniforms to the military, for instance gray " urban camouflage".A paramilitary organization is a semi-militarized f ...
was established by
James Connolly James Connolly ( ga, Séamas Ó Conghaile; 5 June 1868 – 12 May 1916) was an Irish republicanism, Irish republican, socialist and trade union leader. Born to Irish parents in the Cowgate area of Edinburgh, Scotland, Connolly left school for ...

James Connolly
,
James Larkin James Larkin (28 January 1874 – 30 January 1947), sometimes known as Jim Larkin or Big Jim, was an Irish republican, socialist Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making ...
and his
Irish Transport and General Workers Union The Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU), was a trade union representing workers, initially mainly labourers, in Ireland. History The union was founded by James Larkin in January 1909 as a general union. Initially drawing its memb ...
(ITGWU) to protect strikers from the
Dublin Metropolitan Police The Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) ( ga, Póilíní Chathair Átha Cliath, IPA:ˈpˠoːlʲiːnʲiːˈxahəɾʲˈaːhəˈclʲiəh) was the police force of Dublin, Ireland, from 1836 to 1925, when it was amalgamated into the new Garda Síochán ...
during the 1913 Dublin Lockout. The
Irish Volunteers The Irish Volunteers ( ga, Óglaigh na hÉireann Óglaigh na hÉireann (), abbreviated ÓÉ, is an Irish-language Irish (also called in Standard Irish) is a Goidelic language of the Insular Celtic branch of the Celtic language f ...
were created in the same year by nationalists in response to the formation of the
Ulster Volunteers The Ulster Volunteers was a unionist, loyalist Loyalism, in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Teleg ...
(UVF), an
Ulster loyalist Ulster loyalism is a strand of Unionism in Ireland, Ulster unionism associated with working class Ulster Protestants in Northern Ireland. Like unionists, loyalists support the continued existence of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom, a ...
body pledged to oppose Home Rule by force. An organiser of considerable intelligence, Collins had become highly respected in the IRB. This led to his appointment as financial advisor to
Count Plunkett George Noble Plunkett KCHS (3 December 1851 – 12 March 1948) was an Irish nationalist politician, museum director and biographer, who served as Minister for Fine Arts from 1921 to 1922, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Minister for Fore ...
, father of one of the
Easter Rising The Easter Rising ( ga, Éirí Amach na Cásca), also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed insurrection Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of ...
's organisers,
Joseph Plunkett Joseph Mary Plunkett (Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United ...
. Collins took part in preparing arms and drilling troops for the insurrection. The Rising was Collins' first appearance in national events. When it commenced on
Easter Monday Easter Monday is the day after Easter, Easter Sunday and is a public holiday in some countries. It is the second day of Eastertide. In Western Christianity, it is also the second day of the Octave of Easter, and in Eastern Christianity, it is als ...
1916, Collins served as Joseph Plunkett's aide-de-camp at the rebellion's headquarters in the
General Post Office The General Post Office (GPO) was the state mail, postal system and telecommunications carrier of the United Kingdom until 1969. Before the Acts of Union 1707, it was the postal system of the Kingdom of England, established by Charles II of En ...
(GPO) in
Dublin Dublin (; , or ) is the capital and largest city of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain_ ...

Dublin
. There he fought alongside
Patrick Pearse Patrick Henry Pearse (also known as Pádraig or Pádraic Pearse; ga, Pádraig Anraí Mac Piarais; 10 November 1879 – 3 May 1916) was an Irish teacher, barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who pr ...

Patrick Pearse
, James Connolly, and other members of the Rising leadership. The Rising was put down after six days, but the insurgents achieved their goal of holding their positions for the minimum time required to justify a claim to independence under international criteria. Following the surrender, Collins was arrested and taken into British custody. He was processed at Dublin's
Richmond Barracks Richmond Barracks was a British Army barracks in Inchicore, Dublin, Ireland. It is now a museum. History The barracks, which were named after Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond, were completed in 1810 and first occupied by the British Army in ...
by " G-Men", plain-clothes officers from
Dublin Metropolitan Police The Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) ( ga, Póilíní Chathair Átha Cliath, IPA:ˈpˠoːlʲiːnʲiːˈxahəɾʲˈaːhəˈclʲiəh) was the police force of Dublin, Ireland, from 1836 to 1925, when it was amalgamated into the new Garda Síochán ...
. During his screening, Collins was identified as someone who should be selected for further interrogation, harsher treatment, or execution. However, he overheard his name being called out so he moved to the other side of the building to identify the speaker. In doing so, he joined the group that was transferred to
Frongoch internment camp Frongoch internment camp at Frongoch Frongoch is a village located in Gwynedd Gwynedd (; ) is a county in Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is Countries of the United Kingdom, part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by ...
in Wales, a movement that historian
Tim Pat Coogan Timothy Patrick "Tim Pat" Coogan (born 22 April 1935) is an Irish writer, broadcaster and newspaper columnist. He served as editor of ''The Irish Press ''The Irish Press'' ( Irish: ''Scéala Éireann'') was an Irish national daily newspaper ...
describes as "one of the luckiest escapes of his life." Collins first began to emerge as a major figure in the vacuum created by the executions of the 1916 leadership. He began hatching plans for "next time" even before the prison ships left Dublin. At Frongoch he was one of the organisers of a program of protest and non-cooperation with authorities. The camp proved an excellent opportunity for networking with physical-force republicans from all over the country, of which he became a key organiser. While some celebrated the fact that a rising had happened at all, believing in Pearse's theory of "blood sacrifice" (namely that the deaths of the Rising's leaders would inspire others), Collins railed against the military blunders made, such as the seizure of indefensible and very vulnerable positions like
St Stephen's Green St Stephen's Green () is a garden square and public park located in the city centre of Dublin, Ireland. The current landscape of the park was designed by William Sheppard. It was officially re-opened to the public on Tuesday, 27 July 1880 by Lor ...

St Stephen's Green
, which were impossible to escape from and difficult to supply. Public outcry placed pressure on the British government to end the internment. In December 1916, the Frongoch prisoners were sent home.


1917–1918

Before his death, Tom Clarke, first signatory of the
1916 Proclamation The Proclamation of the Republic ( ga, Forógra na Poblachta), also known as the 1916 Proclamation or the Easter Proclamation, was a document issued by the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army during the Easter Rising in Ireland, whic ...
and widely considered the Rising's foremost organiser, had designated his wife
Kathleen Clarke Kathleen Clarke (; ga, Caitlín Bean Uí Chléirigh; 11 April 1878 – 29 September 1972) was a founder member of Cumann na mBan Cumann na mBan (; literally "The Women's Council" but calling themselves The Irishwomen's Council in English), ...
as the official caretaker of Rising official business, in the event that the leadership did not survive. By June 1916, Mrs. Clarke had sent out the first post-Rising communiqué to the IRB, declaring the Rising to be only the beginning and directing nationalists to prepare for "the next blow." Soon after his release Mrs. Clarke appointed Collins Secretary to the National Aid and Volunteers Dependents Fund and subsequently passed on to him the secret organisational information and contacts which she had held in trust for the independence movement. Collins became one of the leading figures in the post-Rising independence movement spearheaded by
Arthur Griffith Arthur Joseph Griffith ( ga, Art Seosamh Ó Gríobhtha; 31 March 1871 – 12 August 1922) was an Irish writer, newspaper editor and politician who founded the political party Sinn Féin. He led the Irish delegation at the negotiations that prod ...

Arthur Griffith
, editor/publisher of the main
nationalist Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation (as in a in-group and out-group, group of people),Anthony D. Smith, Smith, Anthony. ''Nationalism: Theory, Ideology, History''. Polity (publisher), Polity, ...
newspaper
The United Irishman ''The United Irishman'' was an Irish nationalist newspaper co-founded by Arthur Griffith and William Rooney.Arthur Griffith< ...
, (which Collins had read avidly as a boy.)Coogan, TP. ''Michael Collins'', 1990 Griffith's organisation
Sinn Féin Sinn Féin ( , ; en, "eOurselves") is an Irish republican and democratic socialist political party active throughout Ireland; both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The History of Sinn Féin, original Sinn Féin organisation wa ...

Sinn Féin
had been founded in 1905 as an
umbrella group An umbrella organization is an association of (often related, industry-specific) institutions, who work together formally to coordinate activities or pool resources. In business, political, or other environments, one group, the umbrella organizati ...
to unify all the various factions within the nationalist movement. Under Griffith's policy, Collins and other advocates of the "physical-force" approach to independence gained the cooperation of Sinn Féin, while agreeing to disagree with Griffith's moderate ideas of a
dual monarchy Dual monarchy occurs when two separate kingdoms are ruled by the same monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the conte ...
solution based on the Hungarian model.Feeney, Brian. ''Sinn Fein: a Hundred Turbulent Years'', Dublin; O'Brien Press Ltd., 2002 The British government and mainstream Irish media had wrongly blamed Sinn Féin for the Rising. This attracted Rising participants to join the organisation in order to exploit the reputation with which such British propaganda had imbued the organisation. By October 1917 Collins had risen to become a member of the executive of Sinn Féin and director of organisation for the
Irish Volunteers The Irish Volunteers ( ga, Óglaigh na hÉireann Óglaigh na hÉireann (), abbreviated ÓÉ, is an Irish-language Irish (also called in Standard Irish) is a Goidelic language of the Insular Celtic branch of the Celtic language f ...
.
Éamon de Valera Éamon de Valera (, ; first registered as ''George de Valero''; changed some time before 1901 to ''Edward de Valera''; 14 October 1882 – 29 August 1975) was a prominent statesman and political leader in 20th-century Ireland. He served severa ...

Éamon de Valera
, another veteran of 1916, stood for the presidency of Sinn Féin against Griffith, who stepped aside and supported de Valera's presidency.


First Dáil

In the 1918 general election Sinn Féin swept the polls throughout much of Ireland, with many seats uncontested, and formed an overwhelming parliamentary majority in Ireland. Like many senior Sinn Féin representatives Collins was elected as an MP (for Cork South) with the right to sit in the
House of Commons of the United Kingdom The House of Commons (domestically known as the Commons) is the lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona ...

House of Commons of the United Kingdom
in London. Unlike their rivals in the
Irish Parliamentary Party The Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP; commonly called the Irish Party or the Home Rule Party) was formed in 1874 by Isaac Butt Isaac Butt (6 September 1813 – 5 May 1879) was an Irish barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in commo ...
, Sinn Féin MPs had announced that they would not take their seats in
Westminster Westminster is a district in Central London Central London is the innermost part of London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city sta ...
but instead would set up an Irish Parliament in Dublin. Before the new body's first meeting, Collins, tipped off by his network of spies, warned his colleagues of plans to arrest all its members in overnight raids. De Valera and others ignored the warnings on the argument that, if the arrests happened, they would constitute a
propaganda Propaganda is communication that is primarily used to Social influence, influence an audience and further an Political agenda, agenda, which may not be Objectivity (journalism), objective and may be selectively presenting facts to encourage a pa ...
coup. The intelligence proved accurate and de Valera, along with Sinn Féin MPs who followed his advice, were arrested; Collins and others evaded incarceration. The new parliament, called
Dáil Éireann Dáil Éireann ( , ; ) is the lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporated community i ...
(meaning "Assembly of Ireland", see
First Dáil The First Dáil ( ga, An Chéad Dáil) was Dáil Éireann (Irish Republic), Dáil Éireann as it convened from 1919 to 1921. It was the first meeting of the Unicameralism, unicameral Legislature, parliament of the revolutionary republic, revolut ...
) met in the
Mansion House, Dublin The Mansion House ( ga, Teach an Ard-Mhéara) on Dawson Street, Dublin, has been the official residence of the Lord Mayor of Dublin since 1715, and was also the meeting place of the Dáil Éireann (Irish Republic), Dáil Éireann from 1919 until 1 ...
in January 1919. In de Valera's absence,
Cathal Brugha Cathal Brugha (; born Charles William St John Burgess; 18 July 1874 – 7 July 1922) was an Irish republicanism, republican politician who served as Minister for Defence (Ireland), Minister for Defence from 1919 to 1922, Ceann Comhairle of Dáil ...

Cathal Brugha
was elected Príomh Aire ('First' or 'Prime' Minister but often translated as 'President of Dáil Éireann'). The following April, Collins engineered de Valera's escape from Lincoln Prison in England, after which Brugha was replaced by de Valera. No
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine ''State Magazine'' is a digital magazine published by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Global Talent Management. Its mission is to acquaint Department o ...
gave diplomatic recognition to the 1919 Republic, despite sustained lobbying in
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state) Washington (), officially the State of Washington, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. ...
by de Valera and prominent
Irish-Americans Irish Americans or Hiberno Americans ( ga, Gael-Mheiriceánaigh) are Americans who have full or partial ancestry from Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atl ...
and at the Paris peace conference.


Minister for Finance

De Valera appointed Collins as
Minister for Finance A finance minister is an executive or Cabinet (government), cabinet position in charge of one or more of government finances, economic policy and financial regulation. A finance minister's Ministry (government department), portfolio has a large v ...
in the
Ministry of Dáil Éireann The Ministry of Dáil Éireann ( ga, Aireacht Dáil Éireann) was the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with on ...
in 1919. Most of the ministries existed only on paper or as one or two people working in a room of a private house, given the circumstances of war in which they were liable to be arrested or killed by the
Royal Irish Constabulary The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC, ga, Constáblacht Ríoga na hÉireann; simply called the Irish Constabulary 1836–67) was the police force in Ireland from 1822 until 1922, when the country was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain an ...
,
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' us ...
,
Black and Tans The Black and Tans ( ga, Dúchrónaigh) were constables recruited into the Royal Irish Constabulary The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC, ga, Constáblacht Ríoga na hÉireann; simply called the Irish Constabulary 1836–67) was the police f ...
or
Auxiliaries Auxiliaries are personnel that assist the military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (po ...
. Despite that, Collins managed to produce a Finance Ministry that was able to organise a large bond issue in the form of a "National Loan" to fund the new Irish Republic. According to
Batt O'Connor Bartholomew "Batt" O'Connor (4 July 1870 – 7 February 1935) was an Irish Cumann na nGaedheal Cumann na nGaedheal (; "Society of the Gaels The Gaels (; ga, Na Gaeil ; gd, Na Gàidheil ; gv, Ny Gaeil ) are an ethnolinguistic group nati ...
, the Dáil Loan raised almost £400,000, of which £25,000 was in gold. The loan, which was declared illegal by the British, was lodged in the individual bank accounts of the trustees. The gold was kept under the floor of O'Connor's house until 1922. The
Russian Republic The Russian Republic., referred to as the Russian Democratic Federal Republic in the 1918 Constitution, was a short-lived state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine publish ...
, in the midst of its own civil war, ordered
Ludwig Martens Ludwig Christian Alexander Karl Martens (or Ludwig Karlovich Martens; russian: Людвиг Карлович Мартенс; – 19 October 1948) was a Russian Marxism, Marxist revolutionary, Soviet Union, Soviet diplomat and engineer. Biography ...

Ludwig Martens
the head of the
Soviet Bureau The Russian Soviet Government Bureau (1919-1921), sometimes known as the "Soviet Bureau," was an unofficial diplomatic organization established by the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic in the United States during the Russian Civil War. T ...
in
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...

New York City
to acquire a "national loan" from the Irish Republic through
Harry Boland Harry Boland (27 April 1887 – 1 August 1922) was an Irish republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of government that is not a monarchy or dictatorship, and is usually associated with the ru ...
, offering some jewels as
collateral Collateral may refer to: Business and finance * Collateral (finance), a borrower's pledge of specific property to a lender, to secure repayment of a loan * Marketing collateral, in marketing and sales Arts, entertainment, and media * Collateral ...
. The jewels remained in a Dublin house until 1938, when they were handed over to de Valera.


War of Independence

The
Irish War of Independence The Irish War of Independence ( ga, Cogadh na Saoirse) or Anglo-Irish War was a guerrilla war fought in Ireland from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary ...
in effect began on the day that the First Dáil convened, 21 January 1919. On that date, an ambush party of IRA Volunteers from the
3rd Tipperary Brigade The 3rd Tipperary Brigade () was one of the most active of approximately 80 such units that constituted the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence. The Brigade was based in southern County Tipperary, Tipperary and conducted i ...
including Séumas Robinson,
Dan Breen Daniel Breen (11 August 1894 – 27 December 1969) was a volunteer Volunteering is a voluntary act of an individual or group freely giving time and labour for community service. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they wo ...
,
Seán Treacy Seán Allis Treacy ( ga, Seán Ó Treasaigh; 14 February 1895 – 14 October 1920) was one of the leaders of the Third Tipperary Brigade of the Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary org ...
and
Seán Hogan Seán Hogan (13 May 1901 – 24 December 1968) was one of the leaders of the 3rd Tipperary Brigade of the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence, War of Independence. Early life Hogan was born on 13 May 1901, the elder child ...
, attacked a pair of
Royal Irish Constabulary The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC, ga, Constáblacht Ríoga na hÉireann; simply called the Irish Constabulary 1836–67) was the police force in Ireland from 1822 until 1922, when the country was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain an ...
(RIC) men who were escorting a consignment of
gelignite Gelignite (), also known as blasting gelatin or simply "jelly", is an explosive material An explosive (or explosive material) is a reactive substance that contains a great amount of potential energy that can produce an explosion An expl ...
to a quarry in
Soloheadbeg Sologhead beg or Solohead beg (; , IPA: sˠʊləxoːdʲˈvʲaɡ is a townland and civil parish in County Tipperary, Ireland, lying northwest of Tipperary (town), Tipperary town. History In 968, Soloheadbeg was the location for the Battle o ...
,
County Tipperary County Tipperary ( ga, Contae Thiobraid Árann) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by Willia ...

County Tipperary
. The two policemen were shot dead during the engagement, known as the Soloheadbeg ambush. This ambush is considered the first action in the Irish War of Independence. The engagement had no advance authorisation from the nascent government. The legislature's support for the armed struggle soon after became official, with the Dáil ratifying the IRA's claim to be the army of the
Irish Republic The Irish Republic ( ga, Poblacht na hÉireann or ) was an unrecognised revolutionary state that declared its independence from the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the Unite ...

Irish Republic
. From that time Collins filled a number of roles in addition to his legislative duties. That summer he was elected president of the IRB (and therefore, in the doctrine of that organisation, President of the Irish Republic). In September, he was made Director of
Intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for abstraction, logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. More generally, it can be des ...

Intelligence
for the
Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary organisations in Ireland throughout the 20th and the 21st centuries. Organisations going by this name have been dedicated to irredentism through Irish republicanism, the be ...
which now had a mandate to pursue an armed campaign, as the official military of the Irish nation. With
Cathal Brugha Cathal Brugha (; born Charles William St John Burgess; 18 July 1874 – 7 July 1922) was an Irish republicanism, republican politician who served as Minister for Defence (Ireland), Minister for Defence from 1919 to 1922, Ceann Comhairle of Dáil ...

Cathal Brugha
as Minister of Defence, Collins became Director of Organisation and Adjutant General of the Volunteers. Collins spent much of this period helping to organise the Volunteers as an effective military force, and concentrating on forcing the RIC – which represented British authority in Ireland – out of isolated barracks and seizing their weapons. Collins was determined to avoid the massive destruction, military and civilian losses for merely symbolic victories that had characterised the 1916 Rising. Instead, he directed a guerrilla war against the British, suddenly attacking then just as quickly withdrawing, minimising losses and maximising effectiveness.Barry, Tom. ''Guerrilla Days in Ireland'', Dublin, Irish Press 1949 The Crown responded with escalation of the war, with the importation of special forces such as the "
Auxiliaries Auxiliaries are personnel that assist the military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (po ...
", the "
Black and Tans The Black and Tans ( ga, Dúchrónaigh) were constables recruited into the Royal Irish Constabulary The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC, ga, Constáblacht Ríoga na hÉireann; simply called the Irish Constabulary 1836–67) was the police f ...
", the "
Cairo Gang The Cairo Gang was a group of British intelligence agents who were sent to Dublin during the Irish War of Independence to conduct intelligence operations against prominent members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) with, according to Irish intell ...

Cairo Gang
", and others. Officially or unofficially, many of these groups were given a free hand to institute a reign of terror, shooting Irish people indiscriminately, invading homes, looting and burning. As the war began in earnest, de Valera travelled to the United States for an extended speaking tour to raise funds for the outlawed Republican government. It was in publicity for this tour that de Valera (who had been elected Príomh Aire by the Dáil) was first referred to as "President". While financially successful, grave political conflicts followed in de Valera's wake there which threatened the unity of Irish-American support for the rebels. Some members of the IRB also objected to the use of the presidential title because their organisation's constitution had a different definition of that title. Back in Ireland, Collins arranged the "National Loan", organised the IRA, effectively led the government, and managed arms-smuggling operations. Robert Briscoe was sent by Collins to Germany in 1919 to be the chief agent for procuring arms for the IRA. While in Germany in 1921 Briscoe purchased a small tug boat named Frieda to be used in transporting guns and ammunition to Ireland. On 28 October 1921 the Frieda slipped out to sea with Charles McGuinness at the helm and a German crew with a cargo of 300 guns and 20,000 rounds of ammunition. Other sources cite this shipment as "the largest military shipment ever to reach the I.R.A." consisting of 1,500 rifles, 2,000 pistols and 1.7 million rounds of ammunition. Local guerrilla units received supplies, training and had largely a free hand to develop the war in their own region. These were the "flying columns" who comprised the bulk of the War of Independence rank and file in the south-west. Collins,
Dick McKee Richard "Dick" McKee (Irish name A formal Irish-language personal name consists of a given name A given name (also known as a first name or forename) is the part of a quoted in that identifies a person, potentially with a as well, and ...
and regional commanders such as
Dan Breen Daniel Breen (11 August 1894 – 27 December 1969) was a volunteer Volunteering is a voluntary act of an individual or group freely giving time and labour for community service. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they wo ...
and Tom Barry oversaw tactics and general strategy. There were also regional organisers, such as
Ernie O'Malley Ernie O'Malley ( ga, Earnán Ó Maille; born Ernest Bernard Malley; 26 May 1897 – 25 March 1957) was an IRA Ira or IRA may refer to: *Ira (name), a Hebrew, Sanskrit, Russian or Finnish language personal name *Ira (surname), a rare Estonian an ...
and
Liam Mellows William Joseph Mellows ( ga, Liam Ó Maoilíosa, 25 May 1892 – 8 December 1922) was an Irish republicanism, Irish republican and Sinn Féin politician. Born in England to an English father and Irish mother, he grew up in Ashton-under-Lyne bef ...

Liam Mellows
, who reported directly to Collins at St Ita's secret basement GHQ in central Dublin. They were supported by a vast intelligence network of men and women in all walks of life that reached deep into the British administration in Ireland. It was at this time that Collins created a special
assassination Assassination is the act of murder, deliberately killing a prominent or important person, such as heads of state, head of government, heads of government, politicians, Monarchy, royalty, celebrity, celebrities, journalists, or CEOs. An assassin ...

assassination
unit called The Squad expressly to kill British agents and informers. Collins was criticised for these tactics but cited the universal war-time practice of executing enemy spies who were, in his words, "hunting victims for execution." Campaigning for Irish independence, even non-violently, was still targeted both by prosecutions under British law entailing the death penalty and also by extrajudicial killings such as that of Tomás Mac Curtain, nationalist mayor of Cork City. In 1920 the British offered £10,000 (equivalent to GB£300,000 / €360,000 in 2010) for information leading to Collins' capture or death. He evaded capture and continued to strike against British forces, often operating from
safe-house A safe house (also spelled safehouse) is, in a generic sense, a secret place for sanctuary violates Cassandra Cassandra or Kassandra (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and t ...
s near government buildings, such as Vaughan's and An Stad. In 1920, following Westminster's prominent announcements that it had the Irish insurgents on the run, Collins and his Squad killed several people in a series of coordinated raids, including a number of British secret service agents. Members of the Royal Irish Constabulary went to Croke Park, where a G.A.A. football match was taking place between Dublin and Tipperary. The police officers opened fire on the crowd, killing twelve and wounding sixty. This event became known as
Bloody Sunday Bloody Sunday may refer to: Historical events * Bloody Sunday (1887), a police and military attack on a demonstration in London against British rule in Ireland * Bloody Sunday (1900), a day of high casualties in the Second Boer War, South Afric ...
. Many British operatives sought the shelter of
Dublin Castle Dublin Castle ( ga, Caisleán Bhaile Átha Cliath) is a major Irish government , image = , date = , state = Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in ...

Dublin Castle
next day. About the same time, Tom Barry's 3rd Cork Brigade took no prisoners in a bitter battle with British forces at Kilmichael. In many regions, the RIC and other crown forces became all but confined to the strongest barracks in the larger towns as rural areas came increasingly under rebel control. These republican victories would have been impossible without widespread support from the Irish population, which included every level of society and reached deep into the British administration in Ireland. In May 1921, elections were held in the Northern part of Ireland under the 1920 Government of Ireland Act which separated the governance of six counties in Ulster from the rest of Ireland. Collins was elected to a seat in Armagh, demonstrating popular support for the republican movement. At the time of the ceasefire in July 1921 a major operation was allegedly in planning to execute every British secret service agent in Dublin, while a major ambush involving eighty officers and men was also planned for
Templeglantine Templeglantine (pronounced "Temple-glan-tin"), officially Templeglentan (), is a village in west County Limerick, Ireland between Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale on the N21 road, N21 national primary route – the main roads in Ireland, road from ...
, County Limerick.Page at generalmichaelcollins.com


Truce

In 1921 General Macready, commander of British forces in Ireland, reported to his government that the Empire's only hope of holding Ireland was by
martial law Martial law is the temporary imposition of direct military control of normal civil functions or suspension of civil law by a government, especially in response to a temporary emergency where civil forces are overwhelmed, or in an occupied te ...
, including the suspension of "all normal life." Westminster's foreign policy ruled out this option: Irish-American public opinion was important to British agendas in Asia. In addition, Britain's efforts at a military solution had already resulted in a powerful peace movement, which demanded an end to the unrest in Ireland. Prominent voices calling for negotiation included the
Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbuda *Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party Argentina *Labour Party (Argentina) Armenia ...
, ''
The Times ''The Times'' is a British Newspaper#Daily, daily Newspaper#National, national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its s ...
'' and other leading periodicals, members of the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
,
English Catholics The Catholic Church in England and Wales ( la, Ecclesia Catholica in Anglia et Cambria; cy, Yr Eglwys Gatholig yng Nghymru a Lloegr) is part of the worldwide Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Churc ...
, and famous authors such as
George Bernard Shaw George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemic Polemic () is contentious rhetoric Rhetoric () is the art Art is a diverse range ...

George Bernard Shaw
. Still, it was not the British government that initiated negotiations. Individual English activists, including clergy, made private overtures which reached Arthur Griffith. Griffith expressed his welcome for dialogue. The British MP Brigadier General Cockerill sent an open letter to Prime Minister
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was a British statesman and Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinat ...

David Lloyd George
that was printed in the Times, outlining how a peace conference with the Irish should be organised. The Pope made an urgent public appeal for a negotiated end to the violence. Whether or not Lloyd George welcomed such advisors, he could no longer hold out against this tide. In July, Lloyd George's government offered a truce. Arrangements were made for a conference between British government and the leaders of the yet-unrecognised Republic. There remains uncertainty as to the two sides' capability to have carried on the conflict much longer. Collins told
Hamar Greenwood Thomas Hamar Greenwood, 1st Viscount Greenwood, PC, KC (7 February 1870 – 10 September 1948), known as Sir Hamar Greenwood, Bt, between 1915 and 1929, was a Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the countr ...
after signing the Anglo-Irish Treaty: "You had us dead beat. We could not have lasted another three weeks. When we were told of the offer of a truce we were astonished. We thought you must have gone mad". However he stated on the record that "there will be no compromise and no negotiations with any British Government until Ireland is recognised as an independent republic. The same effort that would get us Dominion Home Rule will get us a republic." At no time had the Dáil or the IRA asked for a conference or a truce.Deasy, Liam. ''Brother Against Brother'' However, the Dáil as a whole was less uncompromising. It decided to proceed to a peace conference, although it was ascertained in the preliminary stages that a fully independent republic would not be on the table and that the loss of some northeastern counties was a foregone conclusion.Phoenix, Eamonn. ''Michael Collins – The Northern Question 1916–22'', in. ''Michael Collins and the Making of the Irish State'', (Doherty & Keogh, editors) Many of the rebel forces on the ground first heard of the Truce when it was announced in the newspapers and this gave rise to the first fissures in nationalist unity, which had serious consequences later on. They felt they had not been included in consultations regarding its terms. De Valera was widely acknowledged as the most skillful negotiator on the Dáil government side and he participated in the initial parlays, agreeing the basis on which talks could begin. The first meetings were held in strict secrecy soon after the Custom House battle, with Andrew Cope representing Dublin Castle's British authorities. Later, de Valera travelled to London for the first official contact with Lloyd George. The two met one-on-one in a private meeting, the proceedings of which have never been revealed.Neligan, David. ''The Spy In the Castle'', London, Prendeville Publishing 1999 During this Truce period, de Valera sued for official designation as President of the Irish Republic and obtained it from the Dáil in August 1921, in place of the title which had previously been used of
President of Dáil Éireann The president of Dáil Éireann ( ga, Príomh aire ), later also president of the Irish Republic, was the leader of the revolutionary A revolutionary is a person who either participates in, or advocates a revolution In political scien ...
. Not long after, the Cabinet was obliged to select the delegation that would travel to the London peace conference and negotiate a treaty. In a departure from his usual role, de Valera adamantly declined to attend, insisting instead that Collins should take his place there, along with Arthur Griffith. Collins resisted the appointment, protesting that he was "a soldier, not a politician" and that his exposure to the London authorities would reduce his effectiveness as a guerrilla leader should hostilities resume. (He had kept his public visibility to a minimum during the conduct of the war; up to this time the British still had very few reliable photographs of him.)O'Connor, Batt. ''With Michael Collins in the Fight For Irish Independence'', 1929 The Cabinet of seven split on the issue, with de Valera casting the deciding vote. Many of Collins' associates warned him not to go, that he was being set up as a political scapegoat.


Anglo-Irish Treaty

The Irish delegates sent to London were designated as "plenipotentiaries", meaning that they had full authority to sign an agreement on behalf of the Dáil government. The Treaty would then be subject to approval by the Dáil. The majority of the delegates, including
Arthur Griffith Arthur Joseph Griffith ( ga, Art Seosamh Ó Gríobhtha; 31 March 1871 – 12 August 1922) was an Irish writer, newspaper editor and politician who founded the political party Sinn Féin. He led the Irish delegation at the negotiations that prod ...

Arthur Griffith
(leader),
Robert Barton Robert Childers Barton (14 March 1881 – 10 August 1975) was an Anglo-Irish politician, Irish nationalist and farmer who participated in the negotiations leading up to the signature of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. His father was Charles William Bar ...
and
Eamonn Duggan Eamonn Seán Duggan ( ga, Éamonn Ó Dúgáin; 2 March 1878 – 6 June 1936) was an Irish lawyer and politician who served as Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of ...

Eamonn Duggan
(with Erskine Childers (author), Erskine Childers as Secretary General to the delegation) set up headquarters at 22 Hans Place in Knightsbridge on 11 October 1921. Collins shared quarters at 15 Cadogan Gardens with the delegation's publicity department, secretary Diarmuid O'Hegarty, Joseph McGrath (Irish politician), Joseph McGrath as well as substantial intelligence and bodyguard personnel including Liam Tobin, Tom Cullen (Irish republican), Tom Cullen, Eamon Broy, Ned Broy, Emmet Dalton and Joseph Dolan of The Squad. The British team were led by their Prime Minister Lloyd George, the Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill and F. E. Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead, F. F. E. Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead, E. Smith. During two months of arduous negotiations the Irish delegates made frequent crossings between London and Dublin to confer with their Dáil colleagues, and Collins' correspondence reflects his frustration at Dáil debates and the Irish delegate's inability to agree clear instruction as to whether or not they should accept a treaty. In November, with the London peace talks still in progress, Collins attended a large meeting of regional IRA commanders at Parnell Place in Dublin. In a private conference he informed Liam Deasy, Florence O'Donoghue and Liam Lynch (Irish republican), Liam Lynch that there would have to be some compromise in the current negotiations in London. "There was no question of our getting all the demands we were making." He was advised by Lynch not to bring this out in the full assembly. Reviewing subsequent events, Deasy later doubted the wisdom of that advice. The negotiations ultimately resulted in the
Anglo-Irish Treaty The 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty ( ga , An Conradh Angla-Éireannach), commonly known as The Treaty and officially the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was an agreement between the government of the United Kingd ...
which was signed on 6 December 1921. The agreement provided for a Dominion status "
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of St ...
", whose relationship to the British Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth would be modelled after Canada's. This was a compromise, half-way between an independent republic and a province of the Empire. The Treaty was signed under considerable pressure from the British. The negotiators had agreed at the cabinet meeting in Dublin that they would not sign the Treaty without bringing it back for the Dáil cabinet to ratify. But once back in London on 5 December at 7:30 pm, Lloyd George told them it was immediate signature or "immediate and terrible war" and that he had to know by the next day. The Treaty was signed at 2:20 am, 6 December 1921. The settlement overturned the Act of Union by recognising the native Irish legislature's independence. Under a bicameral parliament, executive authority would remain vested in the king, represented in Ireland by a Governor General, but exercised by an Irish government elected by Dáil Éireann as a "lower house". British forces would depart the Free State forthwith and be replaced by an Irish army. Along with an independent judiciary, the Treaty granted the new Free State greater independence than any Irish state, and went well beyond the Home Rule which had been sought by Charles Stewart Parnell or by his
Irish Parliamentary Party The Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP; commonly called the Irish Party or the Home Rule Party) was formed in 1874 by Isaac Butt Isaac Butt (6 September 1813 – 5 May 1879) was an Irish barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in commo ...
successors John Redmond and John Dillon. The Treaty acknowledged the partition of Ireland. Before Treaty negotiations had concluded, executive powers had already been passed to the government of Northern Ireland created under the Government of Ireland Act in 1920. Northern Ireland, which had a majority Unionists (Ireland), unionist population, could opt out of the Free State, a year after the signing of the Treaty. An Irish Boundary Commission was to be established to draw a border, "in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants' and ‘economic and geographic conditions". Collins anticipated a redrawing of the border would result in much of the south and west of Northern Ireland becoming part of the Free State, making Northern Ireland economically non-viable, and facilitating the reunification of the 32 counties in the near future. Collins argued that he had signed the Treaty as the alternative was a war that the Irish people did not want. "I say that rejection of the Treaty is a declaration of war until you have beaten the British Empire, apart from any alternative document. Rejection of the Treaty means your national policy is war…. The Treaty was signed by me, not because they held up the alternative of immediate war. I signed it because I would not be one of those to commit the Irish people to war without the Irish people committing themselves to war."Dáil Debate on Treaty 19 December 1921, https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/1921-12-19/2/ While the Treaty fell short of the republic for which he had fought, Collins concluded that the Treaty offered Ireland "not the freedom that all nations desire and develop to, but the freedom to achieve it." Nonetheless, he knew that elements of the Treaty would cause controversy in Ireland. Upon signing the treaty, F. E. Smith remarked "I may have signed my political death warrant tonight". Collins replied "I may have signed my actual death warrant".


Treaty debates

This remark encapsulated his acknowledgement that the Treaty was a compromise that would be vulnerable to charges of "sell-out" from purist Republicans. It did not establish the fully independent republic that Collins himself had shortly before demanded as a non-negotiable condition. The "physical force republicans" who made up the bulk of the army which had fought the British to a draw would be loath to accept dominion status within the British Empire or an Oath of Allegiance (Ireland), Oath of Allegiance that mentioned the King. Also controversial was the British retention of Treaty Ports (Ireland), Treaty Ports on the south coast of Ireland for the Royal Navy. These factors diminished Irish sovereignty and threatened to allow British interference in Ireland's foreign policy. Collins and Griffith were well aware of these issues and strove tenaciously, against British resistance, to achieve language which could be accepted by all constituents. They succeeded in obtaining an oath to the Irish Free State, with a subsidiary oath of fidelity to the King, rather than to the king unilaterally. Éamon de Valera, the President of the Dáil objected to the Treaty on the grounds that it had been signed without cabinet consent and that it secured neither the full independence of Ireland nor Irish unity. Collins and his supporters argued that de Valera had refused strenuous pleas from Collins, Griffith and others to lead the London negotiations in person. He had refused the delegates' continual requests for instruction, and in fact had been at the centre of the original decision to enter negotiations without the possibility of an independent republic on the table.O'Broin, Leon. ''Michael Collins'', Dublin, Gill & MacMillan 1980 The Treaty controversy split the entire nationalist movement. Sinn Féin, the Dáil, the IRB and the army each divided into pro- and anti-Treaty factions. The Supreme Council of the IRB had been informed in detail about every facet of the Treaty negotiations and had approved many of its provisions, and all but one voted to accept the Treaty – the single exception being Liam Lynch (Irish republican), Liam Lynch, later Chief-of-Staff of the anti-Treaty IRA. The Dáil debated the Treaty bitterly for ten days until it was approved by a vote of 64 to 57. Having lost this vote, de Valera announced his intent to withdraw his participation from the Dáil and called on all deputies who had voted against the Treaty to follow him. A substantial number did so, officially splitting the government. A large part of the Irish Republican Army opposed the Treaty and in March 1922 voted at an Army Convention to reject the authority of the Dail, Collins' GHQ and to elect their own Executive. Anti-Treaty IRA units began to seize buildings and take other guerrilla actions against the Provisional Government. On 14 April 1922, a group of 200 anti-Treaty IRA men occupied the Four Courts in Dublin under Rory O'Connor (Irish republican), Rory O'Connor, a hero of the War of Independence. The Four Courts was the centre of the Irish courts system, originally under the British and then the Free State. Collins was charged by his Free State colleagues with putting down these insurgents, however, he resisted firing on former comrades and staved off a shooting war throughout this period.Provisional Government minutes, Public Records Office, DublinO'Donoghue, Florence. ''No Other Law'', Dublin, Irish Press, 1954 While the country teetered on the edge of civil war, continuous meetings were carried on among the various factions from January to June 1922. In these discussions the nationalists strove to resolve the issue without armed conflict. Collins and his close associate,
Teachta Dála A Teachta Dála ( , ; plural ), abbreviated as TD (plural ''TDanna'' in Irish, TDs in English), is a member of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas (the Irish Parliament). It is the equivalent of terms such as ''Member of Parliamen ...
(TD)
Harry Boland Harry Boland (27 April 1887 – 1 August 1922) was an Irish republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of government that is not a monarchy or dictatorship, and is usually associated with the ru ...
were among those who worked desperately to heal the rift. To foster military unity, Collins and the IRB established an "army re-unification committee", including delegates from pro- and anti-Treaty factions. The still-secret Irish Republican Brotherhood continued to meet, fostering dialogue between pro- and anti-Treaty IRA officers. In the IRB's stormy debates on the subject, Collins held out the Constitution of the new Free State as a possible solution. Collins was then in the process of co-writing that document and was striving to make it a republican constitution that included provisions that would allow anti-Treaty TDs to take their seats in good conscience, without any oath concerning the Crown.


Northern Ireland

Collins' policy toward Northern Ireland was ambiguous. On one hand, he told the Dáil during the Treaty debates that "We have stated we would not coerce the North-East … Surely we recognise that the North-East corner does exist, and surely our intention was that we should take such steps as would sooner or later lead to mutual understanding. The Treaty has made an effort to deal with it… on lines that will lead very rapidly to goodwill, and the entry of the North-East under the Irish Parliament. I don't say it is an ideal arrangement, but if our policy is, as has been stated, a policy of non-coercion." However, he told the Northern Divisions of the IRA in private, early in 1922 that, "although the Treaty may have seemed as an outward expression of partition, the [Provisional Irish] Government plans to make it [partition] impossible… even if it meant smashing the Treaty". Collins' Provisional Government also funded county councils and paid the salaries of teachers in Northern Ireland who recognised the Free State. In Northern Ireland in the first half of 1922, there was considerable violence between rival forces along the new border, the IRA on the southern side and the Ulster Special Constabulary on the Northern side. There were also many killings of civilians, notably by "unauthorised loyalist paramilitary forces" who targeted Catholics. Catholic were also driven out of their jobs, notably in Belfast's shipyards. In March, Collins met Sir James Craig, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, in London. They signed an agreement declaring peace in the north which promised cooperation between Catholics and Protestants in policing and security and a generous budget for restoring Catholics to homes which had been destroyed. The day after the agreement was published, violence erupted again in the Arnon Street killings. A policeman was shot dead in Belfast and in reprisal, police entered Catholic homes nearby and shot residents in their beds, including children. There was no response to Collins' demands for an inquiry. He and his Cabinet warned that they would deem the agreement broken unless Craig took action. In his continual correspondence with Churchill over violence in the north, Collins protested repeatedly that such breaches of the Truce threatened to invalidate the Treaty entirely. The prospect was real enough that on 3 June 1922 Churchill presented to the Committee of Imperial Defence his plans "to protect Ulster from invasion by the South." Throughout the early months of 1922, Collins had been sending IRA units to the border and sending arms and money to the northern units of the IRA. Collins joined other IRB and IRA leadership in developing secret plans to launch a clandestine guerrilla war in the northeast. Some British arms that had been supplied to the Provisional government in Dublin were turned over by Collins to IRA units in the north. In May–June 1922 Collins and IRA Chief of Staff Liam Lynch organised an offensive that would involve mobilising and arming ''both'' pro- and anti-Treaty IRA units along the border area. Because of this, most northern IRA units supported Collins and 524 individual volunteers came south to join the National Army in the Irish Civil War. This activity was supposed to culminate in a "joint Northern offensive" in May 1922 that was to involve both pro and anti-Treaty IRA units. However, it appears that Collins countermanded the offensive at the last minute. While the Northern units took part, the Divisions based in southern territory and under Collins' authority, the 1st, 4th and 5th Northern Divisions did not, leading to the suppression of the offensive with relative ease by the Northern authorities. Collins chided pro-Treaty IRA units who became embroiled in heavy fighting with British troops at Pettigo in June 1922 and the Provisional Government subsequently issued an order that their policy was "peaceful obstruction… and no troops from the twenty- six counties either official or attached to the executive [anti-Treaty] should be permitted to invade the six county area". At the time of his death in August 1922, it was still unclear what Collins' true intentions towards Northern Ireland were.


Provisional government

De Valera resigned the presidency and sought re-election but Arthur Griffith replaced him after a close vote on 9 January 1922. Griffith chose as his title President of Dáil Éireann, rather than President of the Republic as de Valera had favoured. The Dáil Éireann government did not hold legal status in British constitutional law. The provisions of the Treaty required the formation of a ''new'' government, which would be recognised by Westminster as pertaining to the Free State dominion that had been established by the Treaty. Despite the abdication of a large part of the Dáil, the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State, Provisional Government (Rialtas Sealadach na hÉireann) was formed by Arthur Griffith as president and Michael Collins as Chairman of the Cabinet (effectively Prime Minister). Collins retained his position as Minister for Finance. In British legal tradition, Collins was now a Crown-appointed prime minister of a Commonwealth state, installed under the Royal Prerogative. To be so installed he had to formally meet the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland Edmund FitzAlan-Howard, 1st Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent, Viscount FitzAlan the head of the British administration in Ireland. The republican view of the same meeting is that Collins met FitzAlan to accept the surrender of
Dublin Castle Dublin Castle ( ga, Caisleán Bhaile Átha Cliath) is a major Irish government , image = , date = , state = Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in ...

Dublin Castle
, the official seat of British government in Ireland. Having surrendered, FitzAlan still remained in place as viceroy until December 1922. The Provisional Government's first obligation was to create a Constitution for the Free State. This was undertaken by Collins and a team of solicitors. The outcome of their work became the Irish Constitution of 1922. He drew up a republican constitution which, without repudiating the Treaty, would include no mention of the British king. His object was that the Constitution would allow participation in the Dáil by dissenting TDs who opposed the Treaty and refused to take any oath mentioning the Crown. Under the Treaty, the Free State was obliged to submit its new Constitution to Westminster for approval. Upon doing so, in June 1922, Collins and Griffith found Lloyd George determined to veto the provisions they had fashioned to prevent civil war. The meetings with Lloyd George and Churchill were bitter and contentious. Collins, although less diplomatic than Griffith or de Valera, had no less penetrating comprehension of political issues. He complained that he was being manipulated into "doing Churchill's dirty work", in a potential civil war with his own former troops.


Pact elections

Negotiations to prevent civil war resulted in, among others, "The Army Document" published in May 1922 which was signed by an equal number of pro- and anti-Treaty IRA officers including Collins, Dan Breen, and Gearóid O'Sullivan. This manifesto declared that "a closing of ranks all round is necessary" to prevent "the greatest catastrophe in Irish history." It called for new elections, to be followed by the re-unification of the government and army, whatever the result. In this spirit and with the organising efforts of moderates on both sides the Collins-de Valera "Pact" was created. This pact agreed that new elections to the Dáil would be held with each candidate running as explicitly pro- or anti-Treaty and that, regardless of which side obtained a majority, the two factions would then join to form a coalition government of national unity. A referendum on the Treaty was also planned but it never took place. The Pact elections on 16 June 1922 therefore comprise the best quantitative record of the Irish public's direct response to the Treaty. The results were pro-Treaty 58 seats, anti-Treaty 35, Labour Party 17, Independents 7, Farmers party 7, plus 4 Unionists from Trinity College, Dublin.


Assassination of Sir Henry Wilson

Six days after the Pact elections, Sir Henry Wilson, 1st Baronet, Sir Henry Wilson was assassinated by Reginald Dunne and Joseph O'Sullivan -- two London-based IRA volunteers, who, ironically, had served in World War I, where Dunne had lost a leg -- outside Wilson's home at 36 Eaton Place at approximately 2:20 pm. He was in full uniform as he was returning from unveiling the Great Eastern Railway War Memorial at Liverpool Street station at 1:00 pm. He had six wounds, two of them fatal, to the chest.Jeffery 2006, pp. 281–3. Two police officers and a chauffeur were also shot as the two assassins sought to avoid capture. They were then surrounded by a crowd and arrested by other policemen after a struggle. Dunne and O'Sullivan were convicted of murder and hanged on 10 August 1922. A British Army field marshal, Wilson had recently resigned his commission and been elected an MP for a constituency in Northern Ireland. He had a long history as one of the chief British leaders opposing Collins in the Irish conflict. At that time Wilson had served as military advisor to the Northern Ireland government led by James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon, James Craig, in which role he was seen to be responsible for the B-Specials and for other sources of loyalist violence in the north. The debate concerning Collins' involvement continued in the 1950s, when a number of statements and rebuttals on the subject were published in periodicals. These were re-printed with additions in Rex Taylor's 1961 book, ''Assassination: the death of Sir Henry Wilson and the tragedy of Ireland''. Participants in that discussion were Joe Dolan, Florence O'Donoghue, Denis P. Kelleher, Patrick O'Sullivan, and others.


Civil War

The death of Sir Henry Wilson caused a furor in London. Lloyd George, the prime Minister sent a letter to Collins saying that the 'ambiguous position' of the Provisional Government with regard to the IRA in the Four Courts could no longer be tolerated. The British cabinet met the day after the assassination and agreed that Collins’ reply had not given a 'definite enough commitment' to disperse the Four Courts occupation. They ordered Nevil Macready commander of the British garrison still in Dublin, to attack the Four Courts, whose republican garrison they blamed for the shooting of Wilson. The plan was put on hold at the last minute when Macready advised the government, on 26 June, to give Collins' Provisional Government one more chance to act against the Four Courts. Collins himself was in Cork at the time of the crisis. President Arthur Griffith and military officer Emmet Dalton met with British official to discuss 'the continued occupation of the Four Courts by the Irregulars under Rory O'Connor'. There is little documentation of the decision taken by the Provisional government, headed by Collins, to attack the Four Courts; Historian Michael Hopkinson writes, 'the scarcity of evidence is explained by the acute sensitivity of the subject, both at the time and since'. When Collins arrived back in Dublin, his forces began to act against the anti-Treatyites. On 27 June they arrested anti-Treaty IRA officer Leo Henderson as he was enforcing the Belfast Boycott by seizing cars. In retaliation the anti-Treaty IRA men abducted J.J. "Ginger" O'Connell, a Free State general and held him in the Four Courts.Charles Townshend, The Republic, The Fight for Irish Independence (2013), p.406 These two developments led to the Provisional Government's 27 June 1922 order serving notice on the Four Courts garrison to surrender the building, their arms and release O'Connell, that night or face military action "at once". According to historian Charles Townsend, 'Collins must have consented to this though the actual decision seems to have been taken by Griffith'. Peter Hart (historian), Peter Hart similarly writes, 'it was Griffith rather than Collins who took the lead in this decision'. However cabinet member Ernest Blythe recalled that, 'the decision to attack the Four Courts was almost automatic once Collins had agreed to it. Collins' position in this conflict was extraordinary indeed. A majority perhaps of the IRA he had helped lead in the War of Independence, were now ranged against the Provisional Government, which he represented. In addition, the force which by the will of the electorate he was obliged to lead had been re-organised since the Truce. Formed from a nucleus of pro-Treaty IRA men, it had evolved into a more formal, structured, uniformed National Army that was armed and funded by Britain. Many of the new members Ireland and World War I, were World War I veterans and others who had not fought on the nationalist side before. Collins' profoundly mixed feelings about this situation are recorded in his private and official correspondence.Kee, Robert. ''The Green Flag: The Turbulent History of the Irish National Movement''. . p. 739Feehan, John M. ''The Shooting of Michael Collins: Murder or Accident?'' Cork, Mercier 1981 Artillery was provided to Richard Mulcahy, as Minister for Defence and the Free State Army by the British for the purposes of attacking the Four Courts. Emmet Dalton, an Irishman who had served in the British Army and the IRA, who was now a leading Free State commander and close associate of Collins, was placed in charge of it. The Four Courts surrendered after three days of fighting. Heavy Battle of Dublin (1922), fighting broke out in Dublin between the anti-Treaty IRA Dublin Brigade and the Free State troops. Much of O'Connell Street suffered heavy damage; the Gresham Hotel was burned and the Four Courts reduced to a ruin. Still, under Collins' direction, the Free State rapidly took control of the capital. By July 1922 anti-Treaty forces held much of the southern province of Munster and several other areas of the country. At the height of their success, they administered local government and policing in large regions. Collins, Richard Mulcahy, and Eoin O'Duffy decided on a series of seaborne landings into republican held areas, which re-took Munster and the west in July–August. That July, Collins set aside his title as Chairman of the Provisional Government to become Commander-in-Chief of the National Army. However, according to Charles Townshend, he became 'a kind of generalisimo, combining military and political supremacy. Griffith had no desire or capacity to dispute the day to day conduct of government with him and while Mulcahy had great administrative capacity, he deferred to Collins as a strategist and thinker'. He also prorogued the meeting of the Dail until the end of hostilities, a move that historians such as John Regan have seen as an unconstitutional concentration of power in Collins himself and his military colleagues.


Civil War peace moves

Roughly two weeks after Cork city had been taken by Provisional Government forces, Collins travelled there to attempt to seize large sums of money that the anti-Treaty Republicans had lodged in various banks, under the account of the Land Bank. There is also considerable evidence that Collins' journey to Cork in August 1922 was made in order to meet republican leaders with a view to ending the war.Feehan, John M. ''The Shooting of Michael Collins: Murder or Accident?'', Cork, Mercier 1981 Collins also conducted a series of meetings, regarding the possibility of peace talks in Cork on 21–22 August 1922. In Cork city, Collins met with neutral IRA members Seán O'Hegarty and Florence O'Donoghue with a view to contacting Anti-Treaty IRA leaders Tom Barry and Tom Hales (Irish republican), Tom Hales to propose a truce. The anti-Treaty side had called a major convocation of officers to Béal na Bláth, a remote crossroads, with ending the war on the agenda. De Valera was present there. However, Michel Hopkinson writes that 'there is no evidence that there was any prospect of a meeting between de Valera and Collins.Hopkinson, Green Against Green, p.177 The People's Rights Association, a local initiative in Cork City, had been mediating a discussion of terms between the Provisional Government and the anti-Treaty side for some weeks. Collins' personal diary outlined his proposals for peace. Republicans must "accept the People's Verdict" on the Treaty, but could then "go home without their arms. We don't ask for any surrender of their principles". He argued that the Provisional Government was upholding "the people's rights" and would continue to do so. "We want to avoid any possible unnecessary destruction and loss of life. We do not want to mitigate their weakness by resolute action beyond what is required". But if Republicans did not accept his terms, "further blood is on their shoulders".


Death

In August 1922, it seemed as though the Civil War was winding down. The Free State had regained control of most of the country, and Collins was making frequent trips to inspect areas recently recovered from anti-Treaty forces. His plan to travel to his native Cork on 20 August was considered particularly dangerous, and he was strenuously advised against it by several trusted associates. County Cork was an IRA stronghold as much of it was still held by anti-Treaty forces. Yet he was determined to make the trip without delay. He had fended off a number of attempts on his life in the preceding weeks and had acknowledged more than once, in private conversation, that the Civil War might end his life at any moment. On several occasions, Collins assured his advisors "they won't shoot me in my own county," or words to that effect. On 22 August 1922 Collins set out from Cork City on a circuitous tour of West Cork. He passed first through Macroom then took the Bandon, County Cork, Bandon road via Crookstown, County Cork, Crookstown. This led through Béal na Bláth, an isolated crossroads. There they stopped at a local pub named 'Long's Pub', now known as The Diamond Bar, to ask a question of a man standing at the crossroad. The man turned out to be an anti-Treaty sentry. He and an associate recognised Collins in the back of the open-top car. As a result, an ambush was laid by an anti-Treaty column at that point, on the chance that the convoy might come through again on their return journey. Between 7:30 and 8:00 pm, Collins' convoy approached Béal na Bláth for the second time. By then most of the ambush party had dispersed and gone for the day, leaving just five or six men on the scene. Two were disarming a mine in the road, while three on a laneway overlooking them, provided cover. A dray cart, placed across the road, remained at the far end of the ambush site. The 'Irregulars' in the laneway opened fire with rifles on the convoy. Emmet Dalton, the Free State commander for the county, ordered the driver of the touring car to 'drive like hell', but Collins said 'no, stop and we'll fight 'em'. He then jumped from the vehicle along with the others. At first the group took cover behind a low grass bank bordering the road, but Collins then jumped up and ran back along the road to begin firing with his Lee Enfield rifle from behind the armoured car. The Vickers machine gun in that car had also been firing at the attackers but then stopped because a badly loaded ammunition belt caused it to jam. Apparently, to get a better view of the laneway up which he had seen the enemy running, Collins left the protection of the armoured car and moved even farther back around a bend in the road out of sight of his comrades. Now standing in the open, he fired a couple of shots and as he was once more working the bolt of his rifle he was struck in the head by a bullet believed to have been fired by one of the ambushing party – Denis "Sonny" O'Neill, a former
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' us ...
sniper. Collins was the only fatality sustained in the ambush, although another member of his party suffered a neck wound. After he was shot the fire from the ambushing party quickly fell off and they withdrew from the scene. Collins was found, face down, on the roadway. One of his men whispered an Act of Contrition into his ear, but Collins was clearly close to death if not already dead. He was lifted into the back of the touring car with his head resting against Dalton's shoulder. The convoy cleared the dray cart obstruction and resumed its journey to Cork. The lengthy time the convoy took to cover the twenty miles back to Cork City was because many of the roads were blocked and the convoy had to travel across muddy fields and through farms to circumnavigate the obstacles, all in darkness. At times, when the vehicles became bogged down, members of the convoy had to carry Collins' body on their shoulders. The touring car eventually had to be abandoned because of mechanical trouble. There was no autopsy. Collins' field diary was taken by Dalton who had been with him during his tour of the south. The body was first presented at Shanakiel Hospital in Cork, a small military establishment, and then shipped around the coast to Dublin where it was laid out in St Vincent's Hospital Dublin. From there it was removed to the City Hall beside Dublin Castle where it was laid in state.


Conspiracy and collusion

Numerous questions remain about the events surrounding the death of Collins because the only witnesses to his death were the members of the Free State Army convoy and the anti-Treaty ambushers. As no two stories match and participant statements from both sides are contradictory and inconsistent, unanswered questions linger about what happened that day. The man generally believed to have fired the fatal shot, Denis "Sonny" O'Neill, was a former officer from the
Royal Irish Constabulary The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC, ga, Constáblacht Ríoga na hÉireann; simply called the Irish Constabulary 1836–67) was the police force in Ireland from 1822 until 1922, when the country was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain an ...
who served as a sniper in the
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' us ...
during the First World War, joined the IRA in 1918 and had met Collins on more than one occasion. However, when the Irish Civil War started in June 1922, O'Neill joined the Irish Republican Army (1922–1969), Anti-Treaty IRA; becoming one of the ambushers of Collins' convoy at Béal na Bláth that August. O'Neill remains a mysterious figure because of the contradictions in his biography: such as serving in the British Army but then joining the IRA. He provided them with information concerning the Igoe Gang that worked for the Intelligence Corps (United Kingdom), British Army Intelligence Centre. Twenty years after Collins' death, the Irish State granted O'Neill a Captain's military pension in the 1940s.


Aftermath

Collins lay in state for three days. Tens of thousands of mourners filed past his coffin to pay their respects, including many British soldiers departing Ireland who had fought against him. His funeral mass took place at Dublin's Pro Cathedral where a number of foreign and Irish dignitaries were in attendance. Some 500,000 people attended his funeral, almost one fifth of the country's population at that time. No official inquiry was ever undertaken into Collins' death and consequently, there is no official version of what happened, nor are there any authoritative, detailed contemporary records. De Valera is alleged to have declared in 1966, "It is my considered opinion that in the fullness of time history will record the greatness of Michael Collins; and it will be recorded at my expense."


Personal life

Collins' elderly father, who was 75 when his youngest child was born, inspired his fondness and respect for older people. His mother, who had spent her youth caring for her own invalid mother and raising her own brothers and sisters, was a powerful influence. The entire management of the Collins farm fell to her, as her husband succumbed to old age and died. In a society which honoured hospitality as a prime virtue, Mrs Collins was eulogised as "a hostess in ten thousand." Her five daughters avowedly doted on their youngest brother. He enjoyed rough-housing and outdoor sports. Having won a local wrestling championship while he was still a boy, he is said to have made a pastime of challenging larger, older opponents, with frequent success. A very fit, active man throughout life, in the most stressful times he continued to enjoy wrestling as a form of relaxation and valued friendships which afforded opportunities to share athletic pursuits. He could be abrasive, demanding, and inconsiderate of those around him, but frequently made up for it with gestures such as confectionery and other small gifts. Unlike some of his political opponents, he was characterized by many close personal friendships within the movement. It has been justly said that while some were devoted to "the idea of Ireland", Collins was a people person whose patriotism was rooted in affection and respect for the people of Ireland around him. Among his famous last words is the final entry in his pocket diary, written on the journey which ended his life, "The people are splendid." In 1921–22, he became engaged to Kitty Kiernan. Under Kiernan's influence, he would resume Catholic religious practice (though retaining secularism as a political position), despite his previous hostility to the Irish Catholic hierarchy. He made a general confession before his departure for London to negotiate the Anglo-Irish Treaty. While in London, his practice of lighting votive candles for Kiernan developed a habit of attending mass daily, usually at the Brompton Oratory. In letters between the two, he credits Kiernan as having given him a newfound appreciation of Confession (religion), Confession and Eucharist, Communion. Collins attended mass regularly throughout the ensuing civil war. Collins was a complex man whose character abounded in contradictions. He seems never to have pursued personal profit. This characteristic was exemplified by a letter he wrote on 4 August 1922 to his canvassing agent; offering to pay half the bill for a hired election car because some of the journeys had been for personal trips. While clearly fond of command and keen to take charge, he had an equal appetite for input and advice from people at every level of the organisation, prompting the comment that "he took advice from his chauffeur." Although acknowledged by friends and foes as "head centre" of the movement, he continually chose a title just short of actual head of state; becoming Chairman of the Provisional Government only after the abdication of half the Dáil forced him to do so. While his official and personal correspondence records his solicitous care for the wants of insurgents in need, during the war he showed no hesitation in ordering the death of opponents who threatened nationalist lives. Certainly a man of fierce pride, his pride was tempered by a sense of humour that included a keen sense of the absurd in his own situation. While mastermind of a clandestine military, he remained a public figure. When official head of the Free State government, he continued to cooperate in the IRA's secret operations. He was capable of bold, decisive actions on his own authority, which caused friction with his colleagues, such as his falling out with
Cathal Brugha Cathal Brugha (; born Charles William St John Burgess; 18 July 1874 – 7 July 1922) was an Irish republicanism, republican politician who served as Minister for Defence (Ireland), Minister for Defence from 1919 to 1922, Ceann Comhairle of Dáil ...

Cathal Brugha
; but at critical junctures he could also bow to majority decisions which were profoundly disadvantageous and dangerous to his own interests (such as his appointment to the Treaty negotiating team).


Commemoration

An annual commemoration ceremony takes place each year in August at the ambush site at Béal na Bláth, County Cork, organised by The Béal na mBláth Commemoration Committee. In 2009, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson gave the oration. In 2010 the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan Jnr became the first Fianna Fáil person to give the oration. In 2012 on the 90th anniversary of the death of Collins, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave the oration, the first serving head of government to do so. There is also a remembrance ceremony at Collins' grave in Glasnevin Cemetery on the anniversary of his death every year. Michael Collins House museum in Clonakilty, Cork is a museum dedicated to Michael Collins and the history of Irish Independence. Situated in a restored Georgian architecture, Georgian House on Emmet Square, where Collins once lived, the museum, tells the life story of Collins through guided tours, interactive displays, audiovisuals and historical artefacts. The Central Bank of Ireland released gold and silver commemorative coins on 15 August 2012 which feature a portrait of Michael Collins designed by Thomas Ryan based on a photograph taken not long before his death.


Legacy

Collins bequeathed to posterity a considerable body of writing: essays, speeches and tracts, articles and official documents in which he outlined plans for Ireland's economic and cultural revival, as well as a voluminous correspondence, both official and personal. Selections have been published in ''The Path to Freedom'' (Mercier, 1968) and in ''Michael Collins in His Own Words'' (Gill & Macmillan, 1997). In the 1960s, Taoiseach Seán Lemass, himself a veteran of the 1916 Rising and War of Independence, credited Collins' ideas as the basis for his successes in revitalizing Ireland's economy. Nine years after his death, the UK Parliament passed the Statute of Westminster 1931, Statute of Westminster, which removed virtually all of London's remaining authority over the Free State and the other dominions. This had the effect of making the Free State the first internationally recognised independent Irish state, thus fulfilling Collins' vision of having "the freedom to achieve freedom."


Societies

The Collins 22 Society established in 2002 is an international organisation dedicated to keeping the name and legacy of Michael Collins in living memory. The patron of the society is Ireland's former Minister for Justice and TD
Nora Owen Nora Owen (; born 1 June 1945) is an Irish former Fine Gael politician who served as Minister for Justice (Ireland), Minister for Justice from 1994 to 1997 and Leader of Fine Gael#Deputy leaders, Deputy Leader of Fine Gael from 1993 to 2001. She ...
, grand-niece of Michael Collins.


In popular culture


Film and television

The 1936 film ''Beloved Enemy'' is a fictionalised account of Collins' life. Unlike the real Michael Collins, the fictionalised "Dennis Riordan" (played by Brian Aherne) is shot, but recovers. ''Hang Up Your Brightest Colours'', a British documentary film, documentary by Kenneth Griffith, was made for ITV (TV network), ITV in 1973, but refused transmission. It was eventually screened by the BBC in Wales in 1993 and across the United Kingdom the following year. In 1969, Dominic Behan wrote an episode of the UK television series Play for Today entitled 'Michael Collins'. The play dealt with Collins' attempt to take the gun out of Irish politics and took the perspective of the republican argument. At the time of writing the script, the Troubles had just begun in Northern Ireland and the BBC were reluctant to broadcast the production. An appeal by the author to David Attenborough (Director of Programming for the BBC at that time) resulted in the play eventually being broadcast; Attenborough took the view that the imperatives of free speech could not be compromised in the cause of political expediency. An Republic of Ireland, Irish documentary made by Colm Connolly for RTÉ Television in 1989 called ''The Shadow of Béal na Bláth'' covered Collins' death. A made-for-TV film, ''The Treaty (film), The Treaty'', was produced in 1991 and starred Brendan Gleeson as Collins and Ian Bannen as
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David Lloyd George
. In 2007, RTÉ produced a documentary entitled ''Get Collins'', about the intelligence war which took place in
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. Collins was the subject of film director, director Neil Jordan's 1996 film ''Michael Collins (film), Michael Collins'', with Liam Neeson in the title role. Collins' great-grandnephew, Aengus O'Malley, played a student in a scene filmed in Marsh's Library. In 2005 Cork Opera House commissioned a musical drama about Collins. "Michael Collins" by Brian Flynn had a successful run in 2009 at Cork opera house and later in the Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Olympia Theatre in Dublin. ''Infamous Assassinations'', a 2007 British documentary television series, devoted its eighth episode to the death of Collins. The 2016 miniseries, ''Rebellion (miniseries), Rebellion'', focused on the 1916 Easter Rising. Collins appeared as a background character, taking part in the uprising, played by Sebastian Thommen. Collins was portrayed by Gavin Drea in the 2019 sequel to Rebellion, Resistance (miniseries), Resistance.


Songs

Irish-American folk rock band Black 47 recorded a song entitled "The Big Fellah" which was the first track on their 1994 album ''Home of the Brave''. It details Collins' career, from the
Easter Rising The Easter Rising ( ga, Éirí Amach na Cásca), also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed insurrection Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of ...
to his death at Béal na Bláth. Irish Folk music, folk band the Wolfe Tones recorded a song titled "Michael Collins" on ''A Sense of Freedom (album), A Sense of Freedom'' (1983) about Collins' life and death, although it begins when he was about 16 and took a job in London. Celtic metal band Cruachan (band), Cruachan recorded a song also titled "Michael Collins" on their 2004 album ''Pagan (album), Pagan'' which dealt with his role in the Civil War, the treaty and his eventual death. Also a song by Johnny McEvoy, simply named "Michael", depicts Collins' death and the sadness surrounding his funeral. The poem "The laughing boy" by Brendan Behan lamenting the death of Collins was translated into Greek in 1961 by Vasilis Rotas. In October of the same year, Mikis Theodorakis composed the song "Tο γελαστό παιδί" ("The laughing boy") using Rotas' translation. The song was recorded by Maria Farantouri in 1966 on the album "Ένας όμηρος" ("The hostage") and became an instant success. It was the soundtrack of the movie ''Z (1969 film), Z'' (1969). "The laughing boy" became the song of protest against the dictatorship in Greece (1967–1974) and remains to date one of the most popular songs in Greek popular culture.


Plays

Journalist Eamonn O'Neill wrote the play ''God Save Ireland Cried the Hero'' about Collins' last night alive. Set in his hotel room, the one-man production started Liam Brennan in the role of Collins and was produced by the Wiseguise Company. It was performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1996. Mary Kenny wrote a play ''Allegiance'', about a meeting between Winston Churchill and Michael Collins. The play premiered in 2006 for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with Mel Smith playing Winston Churchill and Michael Fassbender, a great-great-grandnephew of Michael Collins, playing Michael Collins.OnstageScotland
"Allegiance"


See also

* Families in the Oireachtas * F. Digby Hardy * List of members of the Oireachtas imprisoned during the Irish revolutionary period * List of people on the postage stamps of Ireland * List of unsolved murders (20th century), List of unsolved murders


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Historiography

* McCarthy, Mark. ''Ireland's 1916 Rising: Explorations of History-making, Commemoration & Heritage in Modern Times'' (Routledge, 2016). * Regan, John M. "Irish public histories as an historiographical problem." ''Irish Historical Studies'' 37.146 (2010): 265–92. * Regan, John M. "Michael Collins, General Commanding‐in‐Chief, as a Historiographical Problem." ''History'' 92.307 (2007): 318–46. * * Whelan, Kevin. "The revisionist debate in Ireland." ''Boundary'' 2 31.1 (2004): 179–205
online


External links

*
Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins
(dual memorial volume) available from th
Digital Library@Villanova University

Hang Up Your Brightest Colours: The Life And Death Of Michael Collins
on YouTube * Frank Callanan
Collins, Michael
in

* [https://web.archive.org/web/20190816193859/http://www.generalmichaelcollins.com/ Michael Collins 22 Society webpage]
A Man Against an Empire

Collins family in the 1901 Irish census, Michael aged 10


Clonakilty, Co Cork
Irish Genealogy Site
* * British Pathe Video from 1922
''In Memory Of Michael Collins''

Papers of Michael Collins. The papers, pertaining to the period when Collins lived in London, relate primarily to Civil Service examinations, the Gaelic League and Gaelic Athletic Association in London, together with draft articles and speeches written by Collins, and several personal letters addressed to him from family and friends.
A University College Dublin, UCD Digital Library Collection. * {{DEFAULTSORT:Collins, Michael 1890 births 1920s murders in Ireland 1922 crimes in Ireland 1922 deaths 1922 murders in Europe Alumni of King's College London Burials at Glasnevin Cemetery Collins family, Michael Deaths by firearm in Ireland Early Sinn Féin TDs GAA people from London Guerrilla warfare theorists Heads of Irish provisional governments Irish nationalists Irish Republican Army (1919–1922) members Irish republicans Irish revolutionaries Male murder victims Members of the 1st Dáil Members of the 2nd Dáil Members of the 3rd Dáil Members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood Members of the House of Commons of Northern Ireland 1921–1925 Members of the House of Commons of Northern Ireland for County Armagh constituencies Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for County Cork constituencies (1801–1922) Ministers for Finance (Ireland) Ministers for Justice (Ireland) National Army (Ireland) generals People from County Cork People of the Easter Rising People of the Irish Civil War (Pro-Treaty side) People killed in the Irish Civil War Politicians from County Cork UK MPs 1918–1922 Unsolved murders in Ireland