On Monday, more commemorative events will be held in County Cork to mark the centennial of Michael Collins’s death.
Collins played an instrumental role in the Irish fight for independence from Britain in the 1920s.
Political rivals Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael put aside their differences on Sunday to honor Collins at a memorial service.
Both political groups can trace their roots back to the Irish Civil War of 1922–1923.
Both supporters and opponents of the Anglo-Irish Treaty participated in the conflict.
Ireland gained some measure of independence in 26 counties as a result of the London agreement signed in December 1921; however, the agreement did not establish a 32-county republic.
Collins expressed concern that he may have signed his own death warrant by approving the contentious treaty. The guy was right.
He was in a convoy that was ambushed by anti-Treaty forces on August 22, 1922, near Béal na Bláth in west Cork. The bullet to the head ultimately proved fatal.
According to eyewitnesses, 31-year-old Collins insisted on fighting back once the convoy was attacked rather than trying to flee the area.
Since then, many historians and political commentators have questioned his decision to leave himself vulnerable on a country road in rural Cork while in command of the pro-Treaty forces.
Just who was Michael Collins, anyway?
Collins, who was born on a farm in rural County Cork in 1890, became one of the most prominent figures in the Irish revolution that ultimately resulted in the partition of the island in 1921.
He left Cork for London as a teenager, where he worked as a mail clerk for the British government; nearly a decade later, he returned to Ireland to take part in the Easter Rising of 1916.
The brief uprising against British rule was quickly put down, but just two years later Sinn Féin won a resounding election victory and installed a new breakaway government in Dublin.
After being elected to parliament, Collins served as a minister in the interim government and as the head of the Irish Republican Army’s intelligence service (IRA).
Collins was sent by Eamon de Valera to London to negotiate a peace treaty after the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921).
Many Irish republicans were upset by the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, which established the Irish Free State but seemed to copper-fasten Britain’s recent partition of Ireland.
After the treaty was signed, the republican movement was torn apart, and within a few months, the Irish Civil War broke out.
Collins assumed the roles of chairman (leader) of the provisional government and commander-in-chief of the new Free State National Army.
However, his time in power was brief because on August 22, 1922, he was murdered by anti-treaty forces in his home county of Cork.
“There are a lot of questions about what he was doing down in the field in Cork in the first place,” Prof. Marie Coleman of Queen’s University in Belfast told BBC News NI.
What this demonstrates, in my opinion, is that he lacked the military experience to be a competent leader. “He had very little experience of fighting in the field in the guerrilla war,” said of Collins, who was also the minister for finance on the civilian side during the war of independence (with Britain).
He ran for election to the first parliament of Northern Ireland the year before he passed away. He ran in the Armagh constituency for Sinn Féin and received 12,656 votes, giving him a seat in parliament.
Collins’s opposition to the partition of Ireland was outlined in a speech given before the election and reported by the Freeman’s Journal.
He pleaded with his audience to support them on the basis that “Ireland is one and indivisible, and that she is not to be ripped asunder by any act of an English assembly.”
We also stand to reaffirm the principle that was fought for in 1916, was ratified by the votes of all of Ireland in 1918, and is still being fought for today in every corner of Ireland.
Even though he never sat in his seat as a Northern Ireland representative, he remained one until the day he died.
Both Éamon de Valera and Sinn Féin founder Arthur Griffith were elected to office.
In August 1922, Griffith passed away 10 days before Collins. Since by-elections were not called, two seats in the new 52-person parliament in Belfast were left unfilled.
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