William Oman, Irish Citizen Army, Information required

I am currently researching the role my family played between the Easter Rising and the end of the Civil War. My great-grandfather was William Oman, Irish Citizen Army. He played ‘The Last Post’ after Pearse’s speech at the funeral of O’Donovan Rossa and sounded the ‘Fall-In’ at Liberty Hall on Easter Monday Morning 1916. He went on to fight in with the City Hall Garrison, Jacob’s Factory Garrison and College of Surgeon’s Garrison. He was in ‘G’ Company 1st Battalion, Dublin IRA. I have his witness statement from the MIlitary Archives. His brother George was also in the I.C.A and was in the G.P.O/Imperial Hotel area for the Rising. Their uncle Robert ‘Bob’ Oman was in the Four Courts area for the Rising and was a Captain in the IRA in the same company as William during the War of Independence. Have you ever come across any information on these three individuals? Any help is greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards,

Niall

Irish Medals & Awards Information

Irish War of Independence General Service Medal  (aka the “Black & Tan Medal” ).

The numbers below refer to those with the comrac bar and those without the comrac bar.

The Black and Tan  Comrac Bar medal :

The Black and Tan Comrac Bar medal , the comrac bar medal was for combatants only

Numbers issued:
The numbers below refer to those with the comrac bar and those without the comrac bar. One can see that there were at least 10 strikings of the Black & tan medal of both types, this can be seen in slight differences in the medals themselves. There were 15,224 Black and Tan medals with the  Comrac  bar issued and 47,644 without the Comrac bar issued. These figures cannot be exact as there were also replacement and late awards later on, so, they have to treated as approximately.
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16th June 1941                                      10,000
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22nd October 1942                                15,000
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26th October 1945                                 3,000
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28th May 1947                                       4,500
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10th March 1949                                    1,500
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7th November 1949                                3,000
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16th June 1950                                      5,000
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10th November 1951                              6,000
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17th June 1953                                      6,700
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3rd October 1957                                   2,500
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IRISH 1916 RISING MEDAL

2,411    issued.

DESIGNER :  Corporal Gerard O’Neill, Corps of Engineers, Irish Army.
MANUFACTURERS :  The Jewellery and Metal Manufacturing Co. Ltd and
P. Quinn Ltd.

DESIGNER :  Corporal Gerard O’Neill, Corps of Engineers, Irish Army.
PRODUCERS : P. Quinn Ltd  and  The Jewellery and Metal Manufacturing Co. Ltd .

Die struck in bronze, a slain cuchulain to front with the raven perched on his shoulder(signifying that he was indeed dead),

“SEACTMAIN NA CASGA 1916” to rear, meaning Easter week1916.

1916 Rising Medal

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1916 Rising medal 1966 Survivors Medal

issued to mark the 50th anniversary of the Rising in 1966.

968 medals issued.

Producer :  Jewellery and Metal Mfg. Co. Ltd, Dublin.

1916-Rising-Survivors-medal

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1921 – 1971 Survivors Medal  Truce medal
(Truce Medal About 19,000)

IRA-Truce-Medal1

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1939 – 1946 Emergency Medal
all types,(Approximate, 240,000)

irish Army emergency medal

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Cumann Na Bhan Brooches. Currently Unknown
(Gold)

cumann na mban Badge Brooch

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Cumann Na Bhan Badges. Around 40
(Gold)

Cumann na mBan badge gold cap badge

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Na Fianna Medal

Issued in 1959 to mark the 5o.th anniversary of the founding of the Fianna. Approximately 2,000 medals  issued, privately issued by the Fianna , a non-government issue medal.

na fianna medal with members card

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Thomas Kent

Thomas Kent
Irish: Tomás Ceannt
1865 – 9 May 1916
Place of birth Castlelyons, County Cork, Ireland
Place of death Collins Barracks, Cork, Ireland
Allegiance Irish Volunteers
Years of service 1913 – 1916
Battles/wars Easter Rising
Thomas Kent (Irish: Tomás Ceannt; 1865 – 9 May 1916) was an Irish nationalist court-martialled and executed following a gunfight with the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) on 2 May 1916, in the immediate aftermath of the Easter Rising.
The Easter Rising
Kent was part of a prominent nationalist family who lived at Bawnard House, Castlelyons, County Cork. They were prepared to take part in the Easter Rising, but when the mobilization order was countermanded, they stayed home. The rising nevertheless went forward in Dublin, and the RIC was sent to arrest well-known sympathizers throughout the country including, but not limited to, known members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Sinn Féin, and the Irish Volunteers. When the Kent residence was raided they were met with resistance from Thomas and his brothers Richard, David, and William. A gunfight lasted for four hours, in which an RIC officer, Head Constable William Rowe, was killed and David Kent was seriously wounded. Eventually the Kents were forced to surrender, although Richard made a last minute dash for freedom and was fatally wounded.
Trial and execution
Thomas and William were tried by court martial on the charge of murdering Head Constable Rowe. William was acquitted, but Thomas was sentenced to death and executed by firing squad in, Cork on 9 May 1916. David Kent was brought to Dublin where he was charged with the same offence, found guilty and sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted and he was sentenced to five years penal servitude. Apart from the singular case of Roger Casement, Thomas Kent was the only person outside of Dublin to be executed for his role in the events of Easter Week. He is buried in the grounds of Collins Barracks, Cork (formerly Victoria Barracks).
Railway
The main railway station in Cork, Kent Station was named after Thomas Kent.

Thomas Kent memorial Bust, Cork Railway station(Kent Station)

Seán Treacy

Seán Treacy (Irish: Seán Ó Treasaigh; 14 February 1895 – 14 October 1920) was one of the leaders of the Third Tipperary Brigade of the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence. He helped to start the conflict in 1919 and was killed in a shootout with British troops in Talbot Street, Dublin during an aborted British Secret Service surveillance operation in October 1920. Although sometimes spelled as ‘Tracy’ or ‘Tracey’ as inscribed on the commemorative plaque in Talbot Street, his surname is more often spelled as ‘Treacy’.

Sean Treacy

Treacy came from a small-farming background in west County Tipperary. He left school aged 14 and worked as farmer, also developing deep Irish nationalist convictions. He was a member of the Gaelic League, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) since 1911 and the Irish Volunteers since 1913. He was arrested in the aftermath of the Easter Rising in 1916 and spent much of the following two years in prison, where he went on hunger strike on several occasions. From Dundalk jail in 1918 he wrote to his comrades in Tipperary, “Deport all in favour of the enemy out of the country. Deal sternly with those who try to resist. Maintain the strictest discipline, there must be no running to kiss mothers goodbye”  In 1918 he was appointed Vice Officer-Commanding of the Third Tipperary Brigade of the Volunteers (which became the Irish Republican Army in 1919). He was impatient for action and was disappointed that the IRB leadership forbade attacks on the police in 1917.
The Soloheadbeg ambush
On 21 January 1919 Treacy and Dan Breen, together with Seán Hogan, Séamus Robinson and five other volunteers, helped to ignite the conflict that was to become the Irish War of Independence. They ambushed and shot dead two members of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) — Constables Patrick MacDonnell and James O’Connell — near their homes at Soloheadbeg in County Tipperary. The RIC men were transporting gelignite explosives; when they allegedly refused to surrender and offered resistance, the Volunteers shot them dead. Robinson was the organiser of the action, while Treacy was the logistics expert.
Breen later recalled: “…we took the action deliberately, having thought over the matter and talked it over between us. Treacy had stated to me that the only way of starting a war was to kill someone, and we wanted to start a war, so we intended to kill some of the police whom we looked upon as the foremost and most important branch of the enemy forces … The only regret that we had following the ambush was that there were only two policemen in it, instead of the six we had expected…”
Breen’s later comment suggests that the aim of the attack was to capture or kill as many policemen as possible, for political and military effect
[edit]The Knocklong train rescue
As a result of the action, South Tipperary was placed under martial law and declared a Special Military Area under the Defence of the Realm Act. After another member of the Soloheadbeg ambush party, Seán Hogan, was arrested on 12 May 1919, the three others (Treacy, Breen and Séamus Robinson) were joined by five men from the IRA’s East Limerick Brigade in order to organise Hogan’s rescue. Hogan was being transported by train from Thurles to Cork city on 13 May 1919, and the men, led by Treacy, boarded the train in Knocklong. A vicious close-range struggle, involving man-to-man combat, ensued on the train. Treacy and Breen were seriously wounded in the gunfight. Two policemen died, but Hogan was rescued. He was brought by his rescuers to the nearby village of Knocklong where his handcuffs were removed using a cleaver in the local butcher’s shop.
Clandestine Life
A thorough search for Treacy and others was mounted afterwards. Treacy had to leave Tipperary for Dublin in order to avoid capture. In Dublin, Michael Collins employed Treacy on assassination operations with “the Squad”. He was involved in the attempted killing of British general Sir John French in December 1919. In the summer of 1920, he returned to Tipperary and organised several attacks on RIC barracks, notably at Ballagh, Clerihan and Drangan before again seeking refuge in Dublin.

Sean Treacy & Dan Breen

By the spring of 1920 the political police of both the Crimes Special Branch of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and G-Division (Special Branch) of the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) had been effectively neutalized by IRA counterintelligence operatives working for Michael Collins. The British thoroughly reorganized their administration at Dublin Castle, including the appointment of Army Colonel Ormande de l’Eppe Winter as Chief of a new Combined Intelligence Service (CIS) for Ireland. Working closely with Sir Basil Thomson, Director of Civil Intelligence in the Home Office, with Colonel Hill Dillon, Chief of British Military Intelligence in Ireland, and with the local British Secret Service Head of Station Count Sevigné at Dublin Castle, Ormonde Winter began to import dozens of professional Secret Service agents from all parts of the British Empire into Ireland to track down IRA operatives and Sinn Féin leaders.
Treacy and Dan Breen were relocated to Dublin where they were directed to operate with Michael Collins’ infamous assassination unit, “The Squad”. The Squad’s mission was to surveil and assassinate British secret agents, political policemen and their informants, and to carry out other special missions for General Headquarters (GHQ) as directed by Collins. With help from police inspectors brought up to Dublin from Tipperary, Ormonde Winter’s CIS effectively spotted Treacy and Breen shortly after their arrival in Dublin and placed them under surveillance.
Death
On the 11th of October 1920, Treacy and Breen were holed up in a safehouse – Fernside – at Drumcondra, in north Dublin when it was raided by a police unit. In the ensuing shootout, two senior British officers were wounded and died the next day, Major Smyth and Captain White, while Breen was seriously wounded and the homeowner, Dr. Carolan, was killed. Treacy and Breen managed to escape through a window and shot their way through the police cordon. The injured Breen was spirited away to Dublin’s Mater hospital where he was admitted in alias persona. Treacy had been wounded but not seriously.
The British search for the two was intense and Collins ordered the Squad to guard them while plans were laid for Treacy to be exfiltrated from the Dublin metro area. Treacy hoped to return to Tipperary; realizing that the major thoroughfares would be under surveillance, he purchased a bicycle with the intent of cycling to Tipperary via the backroads. When Collins learned that a public funeral for the two officers killed at Fernside was to take place on October 14, he ordered the Squad to set up along the procession route and to take out further senior members of the RIC and the DMP.
Four or five members of the Squad assembled at a Dublin safehouse early on October 14 in preparation for this operation. Treacy was to join them for his own protection, but arrived late, to discover that Collins had cancelled the attack. While the others quietly dispersed, Treacy lingered behind in the safehouse. But a British Secret Service surveillance team working under Winter’s direction and led by Major Carew and Lt. Gilbert Price had followed Treacy in the hope that he would lead them to Collins or to other high-value IRA targets. Seeing Treacy enter the premises, they set up a stake-out of the building. A decision was made to apprehend Treacy as soon as he emerged from the safehouse.
When Treacy eventually stepped out, Price drew his pistol and closed in on Treacy. Treacy drew his parabellum automatic pistol and shot Price and another British agent before he was hit in the head, dying instantly. Rushing to the scene, Colonel Winter was horrified to see the bodies of Treacy and his own agents lying dead in Talbot Street. The entire confrontation had been witnessed by a Dublin newspaper reporter who captured a photo of Price the instant he had been hit. Making a statement to the reporter, Ormonde Winter called the event “a tragedy.”
Legacy
Treacy’s death sent alarm bells through the upper echelons of the IRA leadership and it appears to have been a factor in the decision by Richard Mulcahy (IRA chief of staff) and Cathal Brugha (Minister of Defence) to approve Michael Collins’ (Director of intelligence) plan to assassinate en masse some two dozen British Secret Service agents, Special Branch agents and British informers a month later.[citation needed] These assassinations were carried out on Sunday, November 21, 1920—a date that has been called “Bloody Sunday.
Some historians of the period consider that Seán Treacy may have been the most feared IRA operative in Ireland. A hardened killer with the sensibilities and manners of a monk, Treacy was one of the few IRA soldiers to stand up to Michael Collins. Collins had a bullying, no-nonsense management style that intimidated most subordinates. Most feared the wrath of the blustering Collins more than their British enemy.Treacy, on the other hand, had no such fear of the IRA Chief. In one memorable incident, Treacy escorted a young lady friend to a speech by Collins to a group of Sinn Féin supporters. As Collins got wound up in his remarks, he increasingly salted his speech with profanity. Suddenly the Vice Commander of the Third Tipperary Brigade stood up and held up his hand, silencing Collins. Treacy then indignantly rebuked Collins for using such language in the presence of mixed company and demanded that Collins apologize to his girl friend. A very nonplussed and embarrassed Michael Collins stared at Treacy awhile before regaining his composure and then apologized for his dirty talk. Treacy retook his seat, and the meeting proceeded.
A commemorative plaque above the door commemorates the spot where Treacy died. His coffin arrived by train at Limerick Junction station and was accompanied to St. Nicholas Church, Solohead by an immense crowd of Tipperary people. He was buried at Kilfeacle graveyard, where despite a large presence of British military personnel, a volley of shots was fired over the grave. Seán Treacy’s death is remembered each year on the anniversary of his death at a commemoration ceremony in Kilfeacle. At noon on the morning of All-Ireland Senior Hurling Finals in which Tipperary participate, a ceremony of remembrance is also held at the spot in Talbot Street where he died, attended mainly by people from West Tipperary and Dublin people of Tipperary extraction. The last such ceremony was held at midday on Sunday, 5 September, 2010 and attracted a large attendance, most of whom were en route to Croke Park.
In Thurles, Co.Tipperary there is an avenue named after him – Seán Treacy Avenue. The town of Tipperary is also home to the Seán Treacy Memorial Swimming Pool which contains many relics of the Easter Rising and IRA, as well as a copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
The song “Seán Treacy”, also called Tipperary so Far Away is about Treacy’s death and is still sung with pride in West Tipperary

Dan Breen

Daniel “Dan” Breen (Irish: Dónall Ó Braoin) (11 August 1894 – 27 December 1969) was a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. In later years, he was a Fianna Fáil politician.
Dan Breen was born in Grange, Donohill parish, South Tipperary. His father died when Dan was six, leaving them very poor. Looking back on his upbringing in a family of tenant farmers, Breen recalled in a 1967 interview,
“I remember an Englishman asking me in England, oh, about thirty years ago, is it true that we kept the pig in the kitchen. ‘No, we’d have him in the bedroom,’ I said. ‘If we didn’t,’ I said, ‘we couldn’t pay the rent to bastards like you.'”
He was educated locally before becoming a plasterer, and later a linesman on the Great Southern Railway.
Revolutionary
Breen was sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1912 and the Irish Volunteers in 1914. On 21 January 1919, the day the First Dáil met in Dublin, Breen took part in an ambush at Soloheadbeg. The ambush party, led by Seán Treacy, attacked a group of Royal Irish Constabulary men who were escorting explosives to a quarry. Two policemen were fatally shot during the ensuing gunfight. The ambush is considered to be the first battle of the Irish War of Independence.
He later recalled:
“…we took the action deliberately, having thought over the matter and talked it over between us. Treacy had stated to me that the only way of starting a war was to kill someone, and we wanted to start a war, so we intended to kill some of the police whom we looked upon as the foremost and most important branch of the enemy forces … The only regret that we had following the ambush was that there were only two policemen in it, instead of the six we had expected…”
During the Irish War of Independence, Breen had a £10,000 price on his head,however, he quickly established himself as a leader within the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Numerous stories are known about his heroism, one of which details the rescuing of his comrade Seán Hogan at gunpoint from a heavily guarded train at Knocklong station in County Limerick. Another incident occurred in Dublin when he shot his way out through a British military cordon in the northern suburb of Drumcondra (Fernside) in which he and volunteer Seán Treacy escaped only for Treacy to be killed soon after. Breen was shot at least four times, twice of which were in the lung (the first being in the Knocklong rescue). He was present at the ambush in Ashtown on the Meath/Dublin border where Martin Savage was killed while trying to assassinate the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Sir John French, 1st Earl of Ypres.
In the June 1922 elections Breen was nominated as a candidate by both the pro- and anti-Treaty sides, but was not elected.
Irish Civil War
Breen was elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1923 general election as a Republican, anti-Treaty Teachta Dála (TD) for the Tipperary constituency constituency. Following the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Breen joined the Anti-Treaty IRA in the unsuccessful civil war against his former comrades in arms. He was arrested by the National Army of the Irish Free State and interned at Limerick Prison. He spent two months here before going on a Hunger strike for 6 days followed by going on thirst strike for six days. Dan Breen was then released.
Politician
Breen published an account of his guerrilla days, My Fight for Irish Freedom in 1924. He represented the Tipperary constituency from the fourth Dáil in 1923 as a “Republican”, along with Éamon de Valera and Frank Aiken. He became the first anti-Treaty TD to actually take his seat in 1927. He was defeated in the June 1927 general election and decided to travel to the United States where he opened a prohibition speakeasy. He returned to Ireland and regained his seat as a member of Fianna Fáil in the Dáil at the 1932 general election. During World War II he was known to hold largely pro-Axis views although he was not as some have suggested anti-semitic. In 1948 an Irish-American visited Breen and was shocked to see two pictures of Adolf Hitler on the wall of Breen’s study. Breen explained to him: “He fought for freedom but not for democracy”. He represented his Tipperary constituency without a break until his retirement at the 1965 election.
Death
He died in Dublin in 1969 and was buried in Donohill, near the place of his birth. His funeral was the largest seen in West Tipperary since his close friend and comrade-in-arms, Seán Treacy was buried at Kilfeacle in October 1920. An estimated attendance of 10,000 mourners assembled in the tiny hamlet, giving ample testimony to the esteem in which he was held. Breen was the subject of a 2007 biography, Dan Breen and the IRA by Joe Ambrose.

Cathal Brugha

Brugha was born in Dublin of mixed Irish Catholic and Irish Protestant parentage. His father, Thomas, was a cabinet maker and antique dealer who had been disinherited by his family for marrying a Catholic. He was the tenth of fourteen children and was educated at the Jesuit Belvedere College, but was forced to leave at the age of sixteen due to the failure of his father’s business. He went on to set up a church candle manufacturing firm with two brothers, Anthony and Vincent Lalor, and took on the role of travelling salesman.
Political activity
In 1899 Brugha joined the Gaelic League and changed his name from Charles Burgess to Cathal Brugha. He met his future wife, Kathleen Kingston, at an Irish class in Birr, County Offaly and they married in 1912. They had six children, five girls and one boy. Brugha became actively involved in the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and in 1913 he became a lieutenant in the Irish Volunteers. He led a group of twenty Volunteers to receive the arms smuggled into Ireland in the Howth gun-running of 1914.
He was second-in-command at the South Dublin Union under Commandant Éamonn Ceannt in the Easter Rising of 1916. During the fighting he was severely wounded by a hand grenade, as well as by multiple gunshot wounds, and was initially not considered likely to survive. He recovered over the next year, but was left with a permanent limp.
War of Independence:

Cathal Brugha commemorative plaque in O’Connell Street, Dublin. (Bullet marked stonework included as part of memorial)

Cathal Brugha commemorative plaque in O’Connell Street, Dublin. (Bullet marked stonework included as part of memorial)
Brugha organised an amalgamation of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army into the Irish Republican Army (IRA). He proposed a Republican constitution at the 1917 Sinn Féin convention which was unanimously accepted. In October 1917 he became Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army and held that post until March 1919.
He was elected as a Sinn Féin MP for the County Waterford constituency at the 1918 general election. In January 1919, Sinn Féin MPs refused to recognise the Parliament of the United Kingdom and instead assembled at the Mansion House in Dublin as a revolutionary parliament called Dáil Éireann. Due to the absence of Éamon de Valera and Arthur Griffith, Brugha presided over the first meeting of Dáil Éireann on 21 January 1919.
He was known for his bitter enmity towards Michael Collins, who, although nominally only the IRA’s Director of Intelligence, had far more influence in the organisation as a result of his position as a high ranking member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, an organisation that Brugha saw as undermining the power of the Dáil and especially the Ministry for Defence. Brugha opposed the oath of allegiance required for membership of the IRB and in 1919 his proposition that all Volunteers should swear allegiance to the Irish Republic and the Dáil was adopted. At a top-level IRA meeting in August 1920, Brugha argued against ambushes of Crown forces unless there was first a call to surrender, but this was dismissed as unrealistic by the brigade commanders present. Brugha also had the idea of moving the front line of the war to England, but was opposed by Collins.
Civil War
Cathal Brugha’s grave
On 7 January 1922 Brugha voted against the Anglo-Irish Treaty. During the Treaty Debates he pointed out that Collins only had a middling rank in the Department for Defence which supervised the IRA, Arthur Griffith hailed him as ‘the man who had won the war’. It has been argued that by turning the issue into a vote on Collins’ popularity Brugha swung the majority against his own side; Frank O’Connor in his biography of Collins states that 2 delegates who had intended to vote against the Treaty changed sides in sympathy with Collins. He left the Dáil and was replaced as Minister for Defence by Richard Mulcahy. In the months between the Treaty debates and the outbreak of Civil War Brugha attempted to dissuade his fellow anti-treaty army leaders including Rory O’Connor, Liam Mellows and Joe McKelvey from taking up arms against the Free State. When the IRA occupied the Four Courts he and Oscar Traynor called on them to abandon their position. When they refused, Traynor ordered the occupation of the area around O’Connell Street in the hope of easing the pressure on the Four Courts and of forcing the Free State to negotiate. On 28 June 1922 Brugha was appointed commandant of the forces in O’Connell Street. The outbreak of the Irish Civil War ensued in the first week of July when Free State forces commenced shelling of the anti-treaty positions.
Most of the anti-Treaty fighters under Oscar Traynor escaped from O’Connell Street when the buildings they were holding caught fire, leaving Brugha in command of a small rearguard. On 5 July he ordered his men to surrender, but refused to do so himself. He then approached the Free State troops, brandishing a revolver. He sustained a bullet wound to the leg which ‘severed a major artery causing him to bleed to death’. He died on 7 July 1922, 11 days before his 48th birthday. He had been re-elected as an anti-Treaty TD at the 1922 general election but died before the Dáil assembled.He is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.
His wife Caitlín Brugha served as a Sinn Féin TD from 1923–27. His son, Ruairí Brugha later became a Fianna Fáil politician and was elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1973 general election. Ruairí married the daughter of Terence MacSwiney, the Republican Lord Mayor of Cork who had died on hunger-strike in 1920.

rugha was born in Dublin of mixed Irish Catholic and Irish Protestant parentage. His father, Thomas, was a cabinet maker and antique dealer who had been disinherited by his family for marrying a Catholic. He was the tenth of fourteen children and was educated at the Jesuit Belvedere College, but was forced to leave at the age of sixteen due to the failure of his father’s business. He went on to set up a church candle manufacturing firm with two brothers, Anthony and Vincent Lalor, and took on the role of travelling salesman.[edit]Political activity
In 1899 Brugha joined the Gaelic League and changed his name from Charles Burgess to Cathal Brugha. He met his future wife, Kathleen Kingston, at an Irish class in Birr, County Offaly and they married in 1912. They had six children, five girls and one boy. Brugha became actively involved in the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and in 1913 he became a lieutenant in the Irish Volunteers. He led a group of twenty Volunteers to receive the arms smuggled into Ireland in the Howth gun-running of 1914.He was second-in-command at the South Dublin Union under Commandant Éamonn Ceannt in the Easter Rising of 1916. During the fighting he was severely wounded by a hand grenade, as well as by multiple gunshot wounds, and was initially not considered likely to survive. He recovered over the next year, but was left with a permanent limp.War of Independence

Cathal Brugha commemorative plaque in O’Connell Street, Dublin. (Bullet marked stonework included as part of memorial)Brugha organised an amalgamation of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army into the Irish Republican Army (IRA). He proposed a Republican constitution at the 1917 Sinn Féin convention which was unanimously accepted. In October 1917 he became Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army and held that post until March 1919.He was elected as a Sinn Féin MP for the County Waterford constituency at the 1918 general election.In January 1919, Sinn Féin MPs refused to recognise the Parliament of the United Kingdom and instead assembled at the Mansion House in Dublin as a revolutionary parliament called Dáil Éireann. Due to the absence of Éamon de Valera and Arthur Griffith, Brugha presided over the first meeting of Dáil Éireann on 21 January 1919.He was known for his bitter enmity towards Michael Collins, who, although nominally only the IRA’s Director of Intelligence, had far more influence in the organisation as a result of his position as a high ranking member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, an organisation that Brugha saw as undermining the power of the Dáil and especially the Ministry for Defence. Brugha opposed the oath of allegiance required for membership of the IRB and in 1919 his proposition that all Volunteers should swear allegiance to the Irish Republic and the Dáil was adopted. At a top-level IRA meeting in August 1920, Brugha argued against ambushes of Crown forces unless there was first a call to surrender, but this was dismissed as unrealistic by the brigade commanders present. Brugha also had the idea of moving the front line of the war to England, but was opposed by Collins.Civil War

Cathal Brugha’s graveOn 7 January 1922 Brugha voted against the Anglo-Irish Treaty. During the Treaty Debates he pointed out that Collins only had a middling rank in the Department for Defence which supervised the IRA, Arthur Griffith hailed him as ‘the man who had won the war’. It has been argued that by turning the issue into a vote on Collins’ popularity Brugha swung the majority against his own side; Frank O’Connor in his biography of Collins states that 2 delegates who had intended to vote against the Treaty changed sides in sympathy with Collins. He left the Dáil and was replaced as Minister for Defence by Richard Mulcahy. In the months between the Treaty debates and the outbreak of Civil War Brugha attempted to dissuade his fellow anti-treaty army leaders including Rory O’Connor, Liam Mellows and Joe McKelvey from taking up arms against the Free State. When the IRA occupied the Four Courts he and Oscar Traynor called on them to abandon their position. When they refused, Traynor ordered the occupation of the area around O’Connell Street in the hope of easing the pressure on the Four Courts and of forcing the Free State to negotiate. On 28 June 1922 Brugha was appointed commandant of the forces in O’Connell Street. The outbreak of the Irish Civil War ensued in the first week of July when Free State forces commenced shelling of the anti-treaty positions.Most of the anti-Treaty fighters under Oscar Traynor escaped from O’Connell Street when the buildings they were holding caught fire, leaving Brugha in command of a small rearguard. On 5 July he ordered his men to surrender, but refused to do so himself. He then approached the Free State troops, brandishing a revolver. He sustained a bullet wound to the leg which ‘severed a major artery causing him to bleed to death’. He died on 7 July 1922, 11 days before his 48th birthday. He had been re-elected as an anti-Treaty TD at the 1922 general election but died before the Dáil assembled.He is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.His wife Caitlín Brugha served as a Sinn Féin TD from 1923–27. His son, Ruairí Brugha later became a Fianna Fáil politician and was elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1973 general election. Ruairí married the daughter of Terence MacSwiney, the Republican Lord Mayor of Cork who had died on hunger-strike in 1920.

General Michael Collins

(TD) for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-chief of the National Army. Throughout this time, at least as of 1919, he was also President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and, therefore, under the bylaws of the Brotherhood, President of the Irish Republic. Collins was shot and killed in August 1922, during the Irish Civil War.
Although most Irish political parties recognise his contribution to the foundation of the modern Irish state, supporters of Fine Gael hold his memory in particular esteem, regarding him as their movement’s founding father, through his link to their precursor Cumann na nGaedheal.

The Home of Michael Collins, Woodfield, Co Cork

Born in Sam’s Cross, West Cork, Collins was the third son and youngest of eight children. Most biographies state his date of birth as 16 October 1890; however, his tombstone gives his date of birth as 12 October 1890. His father, also named Michael, had become a member of the republican Fenian movement, but had left and settled down to farming. The elder Collins was 60 years old when he married Marianne O’Brien, then 23, in 1875. The marriage was apparently happy and they raised eight children on their 90 acre (36 ha) farm in Woodfield. Michael was the youngest child; he was only six years old when his father died. On his death bed his father (who was the seventh son of a seventh son) predicted that his daughter Helena (one of Michael’s elder sisters) would become a nun (which she did, known as Sister Mary Celestine, based in London).He then turned to the family and told them to take care of Michael, because “One day he’ll be a great man. He’ll do great work for Ireland.”

Bust of Michael Collins

Collins was a bright and precocious child, with a fiery temper and a passionate feeling of nationalism. This was spurred on by a local blacksmith, James Santry, and later, at the Lisavaird National School by a local school headmaster, Denis Lyons, a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB).
After leaving school aged 15, Collins took the British Civil Service examination in Cork in February 1906, and was then employed by the Royal Mail from July 1906.[citation needed] In 1910, he moved to London where he became a messenger at a London firm of stock brokers, Horne and Company. While in London he lived with his elder sister, and studied at King’s College London. He joined the London GAA and, through this, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a secret, oath-bound society dedicated to achieving Irish independence. Sam Maguire, a Church of Ireland republican from Dunmanway, County Cork, introduced the 19-year-old Collins into the IRB.In 1915, he moved to the Guaranty Trust Company of New York where he remained until his return to Ireland the following year.
Michael Collins first became known during the Easter Rising in 1916. A skilled organiser of considerable intelligence, he was highly respected in the IRB, so much so that he was made financial advisor to Count Plunkett, father of one of the Rising’s organisers, Joseph Mary Plunkett, whose aide-de-camp Collins later became.
When the Rising itself took place on Easter Monday, 1916, he fought alongside Patrick Pearse and others in the General Post Office in Dublin. The Rising became (as expected by many) a military disaster. 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 it, notably the seizure of indefensible and very vulnerable positions such as St Stephen’s Green that were impossible to escape from and difficult to supply. (During the War of Independence he ensured the avoidance of such sitting targets, with his soldiers operating as “flying columns” who waged a guerrilla war against the British, suddenly attacking then just as quickly withdrawing, minimising losses and maximising effectiveness.)
Collins, like many of the other participants, was arrested, almost executed and was imprisoned up at Frongoch internment camp. Collins became one of the leading figures in the post-rising Sinn Féin, a small nationalist party which the British government and the Irish media wrongly blamed for the Rising. It was quickly infiltrated by participants in the Rising, so as to capitalise on the “notoriety” the movement had gained through British attacks. By October 1917, Collins had risen to become a member of the executive of Sinn Féin and director of organisation of the Irish Volunteers; Éamon de Valera was president of both organisations.
Like all senior Sinn Féin members, Collins was nominated in the 1918 general election to elect Irish MPs to the British House of Commons in London. As was the case throughout much of Ireland (with many seats uncontested), Collins won for Sinn Féin, becoming MP for Cork South. However, unlike their rivals in the Irish Parliamentary Party, Sinn Féin MPs had announced that they would not take their seats in Westminster, but instead would set up an Irish Parliament in Dublin.
That new parliament, called Dáil Éireann (meaning “Assembly of Ireland”, see First Dáil) met in the Mansion House, Dublin in January 1919, although De Valera and leading Sinn Féin MPs had been arrested. Collins, tipped off by his network of spies, had warned his colleagues of the dangers of arrest; de Valera and others ignored the warnings, believing if the arrests happened they would constitute a propaganda coup. In de Valera’s absence, Cathal Brugha was elected Príomh Aire (‘Main’ or ‘Prime’, Minister’, but often translated as ‘President of Dáil Éireann’), to be replaced by de Valera, when Collins helped him escape from Lincoln Prison in April 1919.
In 1919, Collins had a number of roles. That summer he was elected president of the IRB (and therefore, in the doctrine of that organisation, de jure President of the Irish Republic). In September he was made Director of Intelligence of the Irish Republican Army, as the Volunteers had come to be known (the organisation’s claim to be the army of the Irish Republic was ratified by the Dáil in January 1919). The Irish War of Independence in effect began on the same day that the First Dáil met on 21 January 1919, when an ambush party of IRA volunteers acting without orders and led by Seán Treacy, attacked a group of Royal Irish Constabulary men who were escorting a consignment of gelignite to a quarry in Soloheadbeg, County Tipperary. Two policemen were shot dead during the engagement and the ambush is considered to be the first action taken in the Irish War of Independence.
In 1919, the already busy Collins received yet another responsibility when de Valera appointed him to the Aireacht (ministry) as Minister for Finance.[11] Understandably, in the circumstances of a brutal war, in which ministers were liable to be arrested or killed by the Royal Irish Constabulary, the British Army, the Black and Tans or the Auxiliaries at a moment’s notice, most of the ministries existed only on paper, or as one or two people working in a room of a private house.
This was not the case with Collins, however, who produced 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. The Russian Republic, in the midst of its own civil war, ordered Ludwig Martens, head of the Soviet Bureau in New York City, to acquire a “national loan” from the Irish Republic through Harry Boland, offering some of the Russian Crown Jewels as collateral (the jewels remained in a Dublin safe, forgotten by all sides, until the 1930s, when they were found by chance).
Collins created a special assassination unit called The Squad designed to kill British agents; arranged the “National Loan”; organised the IRA; effectively led the government when de Valera travelled to and remained in the United States for an extended period of time; and managed an arms-smuggling operation.
Collins and Richard Mulcahy were the two principal organisers for the Irish Republican Army, insofar as it was possible to direct the actions of scattered and heavily localised guerrilla units. Collins is often credited with organising the IRA’s guerrilla “flying columns” during the War of Independence, although to suggest Collins organised this single handedly would be false. He had a prominent part in the formation of the flying columns but the main organiser would have been Dick McKee, later killed by the British in disputed circumstances on Bloody Sunday. In addition, a great deal of IRA activity was carried out on the initiative of local leaders, with tactics and overall strategy developed by Collins or Mulcahy.
In 1920, the British offered a bounty of £10,000 (equivalent to GB£300,000 / €360,000 in 2010) for information leading to the capture or death of Collins. His fame had so transcended the IRA movement that he was nicknamed “The Big Fellow”. Irish author Frank O’Connor, who participated in the Irish Civil War, gave a different account of the nickname. He said that it began as an ironic, even scornful, reference to Collins’ efforts to be taken seriously by others, seen as bordering on self-importance.
In July 1921, the British suddenly offered a truce. Collins later said that at that time, the IRA was weeks–or even days–from collapse for want of ammunition. He added that when he and his colleagues heard of the truce offer, “Frankly, we thought they were mad.”[citation needed] Arrangements were made for a conference between the British government and the leaders of the as-yet unrecognised Irish Republic. Other than the Soviet Union, no other state gave diplomatic recognition to the 1919 republic, despite sustained lobbying in Washington by de Valera and prominent Irish-Americans, as well as attempts (by Irish-Americans and others) to have representatives of the Irish Republic[13] invited to the 1919 Versailles conference by Seán T. O’Kelly.
In August 1921, de Valera made the Dáil upgrade his office from Prime Minister to President of the Irish Republic, which ostensibly made him equivalent to George V in the negotiations. Earlier while in America, Dev had begun using the title “President” while speaking across that country trying to raise funds, a move which brought him into conflict with some members of the IRB, whose constitution and bylaws declared their own president, Collins in this case, President of the Irish Republic.Eventually, however, he announced that as the King would not attend, then neither would he. Instead, with the reluctant agreement of his cabinet, de Valera nominated a team of delegates headed by Vice-President Arthur Griffith, with Collins as his deputy. While he thought that de Valera should head the delegation, Collins agreed to go to London.
The majority of the Irish Treaty delegates including Arthur Griffith (leader), Robert Barton and Eamonn Duggan (with Robert Erskine Childers as Secretary General to the delegation) set up headquarters at 22 Hans Place in Knightsbridge on 11 October 1921 and resided there until conclusion of the negotiations in December. Collins took up separate quarters at 15 Cadogan Gardens. His personal staff included Liam Tobin, Ned Broy and Joe McGrath.[15] Collins himself protested his appointment as envoy plenipotentiary, as he was not a statesman and his revelation to the British (he had previously kept his public presence to a minimum) would reduce his effectiveness as a guerilla leader should hostilities resume.
The negotiations ultimately resulted in the Anglo-Irish Treaty which was signed on 6 December 1921, which envisaged a new Irish state, to be named the “Irish Free State” (a literal translation from the Irish language term Saorstát Éireann), which appeared on the letterhead de Valera used, though de Valera had translated it less literally as the Irish Republic.”Saorstat Eireann” was, in fact, the title used for the Irish Republic in the proclamation of the provisional government in 1916.
The treaty provided for a possible all-Ireland state, subject to the right of a six-county region in the northeast to opt out of the Free State. If this happened, an Irish Boundary Commission was to be established to redraw the Irish border, which Collins expected would so reduce the size of Northern Ireland as to make it economically unviable, thus enabling unity, as most of the unionist population was concentrated in a relatively small area in eastern Ulster. The Irish Free State was established in December 1922, and as expected, Northern Ireland exercised its option to remain part of the United Kingdom proper.
The new state was to be a Dominion, with a bicameral parliament, executive authority vested in the king but exercised by an Irish government elected by a lower house called Dáil Éireann (translated this time as “Chamber of Deputies”), an independent courts system, and a level of internal independence that far exceeded anything sought by Charles Stewart Parnell or the subsequent Irish Parliamentary Party.
While it fell short of the republic that he’d originally fought to create, Collins concluded that the Treaty offered Ireland “the freedom to achieve freedom.” Nonetheless, he knew that the treaty, and in particular the issue of partition, would not be well received in Ireland. Upon signing the treaty, he remarked “I have signed my own death warrant.”
Republican purists saw it as a sell-out, with the replacement of the republic by dominion status within the British Empire, and an Oath of Allegiance made (it was then claimed) directly to the King. The actual wording shows that the oath was made to the Irish Free State, with a subsidiary oath of fidelity to the King as part of the Treaty settlement, not to the king unilaterally.
Sinn Féin split over the treaty, and the Dáil debated the matter bitterly for ten days until it was approved by a vote of 64 to 57. The Supreme Council of the IRB, which had been kept informed in detail about every facet of the Treaty negotiations and which had approved many of its provisions, voted unanimously to accept the Treaty, with the single notable exception of later COS of the IRA Liam Lynch. De Valera joined the anti-treaty faction opposing the concessions. His opponents charged that he had prior knowledge that the crown would have to feature in whatever form of settlement was agreed.
The Treaty was extremely controversial in Ireland. First, Éamon de Valera, President of the Irish Republic until 9 January, had been unhappy that Collins had signed any deal without his and his cabinet’s authorisation. Second, the contents of the Treaty were bitterly disputed. De Valera and many other members of the republican movement objected to Ireland’s status as a dominion of the British Empire and to the symbolism of having to give a statement of faithfulness to the British king to this effect. Also controversial was the British retention of Treaty Ports on the south coast of Ireland for the Royal Navy. Both of these things threatened to give Britain control over Ireland’s foreign policy. Most of the Irish Republican Army opposed the Treaty, opening the prospect of civil war.
Under the Dáil Constitution adopted in 1919, Dáil Éireann continued to exist. De Valera resigned the presidency and sought re-election (in an effort to destroy the newly approved Treaty), but Arthur Griffith replaced him after the close vote on 9 January. (Griffith called himself “President of Dáil Éireann” rather than de Valera’s more exalted “President of the Republic”.) However, this government, or Aireacht, had no legal status in British constitutional law, so another co-existent government emerged, nominally answerable to the House of Commons of Southern Ireland.
The new Provisional Government (Rialtas Sealadach na hÉireann) was formed under Collins, who became “President of the Provisional Government” (i.e., Prime Minister). He also remained Minister for Finance of Griffith’s republican administration. An example of the complexities involved can be seen even in the manner of his installation:
In British legal theory he was a Crown-appointed prime minister, installed under the Royal Prerogative. To be so installed, he had to formally meet the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Viscount Fitzalan (the head of the British administration in Ireland).
According to the republican view, Collins met Fitzalan to accept the surrender of Dublin Castle, the seat of British government in Ireland. Having surrendered, Fitzalan still remained in place as viceroy until December 1922.
According to British constitutional theory, he met Fitzalan to “kiss hands” (the formal name for the installation of a minister of the Crown), the fact of their meeting rather than the signing of any documents, duly installing him in office. Kissing hands was the only mechanism of transfer then, as the relevant British legislation only passed into law on 1 April 1922.
In his biography of Michael Collins, Tim Pat Coogan recounted that, when Lord Lieutenant Fitzalan remarked that Collins had arrived seven minutes late for the 16 January 1922 ceremony, Collins replied, “We’ve been waiting over seven hundred years, you can have the extra seven minutes”. The same tale was repeated when Richard Mulcahy took over Beggars’ Bush Barracks, and may be apocryphal.
The partition of Ireland between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland was not as controversial. One of the main reasons for this was that Collins was secretly planning to launch a clandestine guerrilla war against the Northern State. Throughout the early months of 1922, he had been sending IRA units to the border and sending arms and money to the northern units of the IRA. In May–June 1922, he and IRA Chief of Staff Liam Lynch organised an offensive of both pro- and anti-treaty IRA units along the new border. British arms supplied to Collins’ Provisional government were instead swapped with the weapons of IRA units, which were sent to the north.
This offensive was officially called off under British pressure on 3 June and Collins issued a statement that “no troops from the 26 counties, either those under official control [pro-treaty] or those attached to the [IRA] Executive [anti-treaty] should be permitted to invade the six county area.” However, low level IRA attacks on the border continued. Such activity was interrupted by the outbreak of civil war in the south, but had Collins lived, there is every chance he would have launched a full-scale guerrilla offensive against Northern Ireland. 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..at least until after Collins’ death; at the end of the civil war, Aiken was COS of the IRA.
In the months leading up to the outbreak of civil war in June 1922, Collins tried desperately to heal the rift in the nationalist movement and prevent civil war. De Valera, having opposed the Treaty in the Dáil, withdrew from the assembly with his supporters. Collins secured a compromise, the “Pact”, whereby the two factions of Sinn Féin, pro- and anti-Treaty, would fight the soon-to-be Free State’s first election jointly and form a coalition government afterwards.
Collins proposed that the envisaged Free State would have a republican constitution, with no mention of the British king, without repudiating the Treaty, a compromise acceptable to all but the most intransigent republicans. To foster military unity, he established an “army re-unification committee” with delegates from pro- and anti-Treaty factions. He also made efforts to use the secret Irish Republican Brotherhood of which he was president, to get IRA officers to accept the Treaty. However, the British vetoed the proposed republican constitution under the threat of an economic blockade, arguing they had signed and ratified the Treaty in good faith and its terms could not be changed so quickly. By this stage most British forces had been withdrawn from the Free State but thousands remained. Collins was therefore unable to reconcile the anti-Treaty side, whose Army Executive had anyway decided in March 1922 that it had never been subordinate to the Dáil.
On 14 April 1922, a group of 200 anti-Treaty IRA men occupied the Four Courts in Dublin in defiance of the Provisional government. Collins, who wanted to avoid civil war at all costs, did not attack them until June 1922, when British pressure also forced his hand. On 22 June 1922, Sir Henry Wilson, a retired British Army field marshal now serving as Military Advisor to the Craig Administration,[23] was shot dead by two IRA men in Belgravia, London. At the time, it was presumed that the anti-Treaty faction of the IRA were responsible and Winston Churchill told Collins that unless he moved against the Four Courts garrison, he (Churchill) would use British troops to do so.
It has since been claimed that Collins ordered the killing of Wilson in reprisal for failing to prevent the attacks on Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland. Joe Dolan—a member of Collins’ “Squad” or assassination unit in the War of Independence and in 1922 a captain in the National Army—said this in the 1950s, along with the statement that Collins had ordered him to try to rescue the two gunmen before they were executed.[24] In any event, this forced Collins to take action against the Four Courts men and the final provocation came when they kidnapped J.J. “Ginger” O’Connell, a provisional government general. After a final attempt to persuade the men to leave, Collins borrowed two 18 pounder artillery pieces from the British and bombarded the Four Courts until its garrison surrendered.[25]
This led to the Irish Civil War as fighting broke out in Dublin between the anti-Treaty IRA and the provisional government’s troops. Under Collins’ supervision, the Free State rapidly took control of the capital. In July 1922, anti-Treaty forces held the southern province of Munster and several other areas of the country. De Valera and the other anti-Treaty TDs sided with the anti-Treaty IRA. By mid-1922, Collins in effect laid down his responsibilities as Chairman of the Provisional Government to become Commander-in-Chief of the National Army, a formal, structured, uniformed army that formed around the nucleus of the pro-Treaty IRA. The Free State Army that was armed and funded by the British was rapidly expanded with Irish veterans of the British Army (a large number of whom may presumed to have been previously members of John Redmond’s “National Volunteers” after the split from the original Irish Volunteers) and young men unassociated with the Volunteers during the war to fight the civil war.
Collins, along with Richard Mulcahy and Eoin O’Duffy decided on a series of seaborne landings into republican held areas that re-took Munster and the west in July–August 1922. As part of this offensive, Collins travelled to his native Cork, against the advice of his companions, and despite suffering from stomach ache and depression. Collins reputedly told his comrades that “They wouldn’t shoot me in my own county”.[29] It has been questioned why Collins put himself in such danger by visiting the south of the country while much of it was still held by hostile forces. What historian Michael Hopkinson describes as ‘plentiful oral evidence’ suggests that Collins’ purpose was to meet Republican leaders in order to bring the war to an end. In Cork city, he met with neutral IRA men Seán O’Hegarty and Florrie O’Donoghue, with a view to contacting Anti-Treaty IRA leaders Tom Barry and Tom Hales to propose a truce.Hopkinson asserts though that, although Éamon de Valera was in west Cork at the time, “there is no evidence that there was any prospect of a meeting between de Valera and Collins”.
Collins’ personal diary outlined his plan 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”.
The last known photograph of Collins alive was taken as he made his way through Bandon, County Cork in the back of an army vehicle. He is pictured outside White’s Hotel (now Munster Arms) on 22 August 1922. On the road to Bandon, at the village of Béal na mBláth (Irish, “the Mouth of Flowers”), Collins’ column stopped to ask directions. However the man whom they asked, Dinny Long, was also a member of the local Anti-Treaty IRA. An ambush was then prepared for the convoy when it made its return journey back to Cork city. They knew Collins would return by the same route as the two other roads from Bandon to Cork had been rendered impassable by Republicans. The ambush party, commanded by Liam Deasy, had mostly dispersed to a nearby pub by 8:00 p.m., when Collins and his men returned to Béal na mBlath but the remaining five ambushers on the scene opened fire on Collins’s convoy. The ambushers had laid a mine on the scene, which could have killed many more people in Collins’s party, but they had disconnected it by the time the firing broke out.
Kitty Kiernan, Collins’ fiancée.
Collins was killed in the subsequent gun battle, which lasted about 20 minutes, from 8:00 p.m. to 8:20 p.m. He was the only fatality. He had ordered his convoy to stop and return fire, instead of choosing the safer option of driving on in his touring car or transferring to the safety of the accompanying armoured car, as his companion, Emmet Dalton, had wished. He was killed while exchanging rifle fire with the ambushers. Under the cover of the armoured car, Collins’s body was loaded into the touring car and driven back to Cork. At the time of his death, he was engaged to Kitty Kiernan.
There is no consensus as to who fired the fatal shot. The most recent authoritative account suggests that the shot was fired by Denis (“Sonny”) O’Neill, an Anti-Treaty IRA fighter and a former British Army marksman who died in 1950.[33] This is supported by eyewitness accounts of the participants in the ambush. O’Neill was using dum-dum ammunition, which disintegrates on impact and which left a gaping wound in Collins’s skull. He dumped the remaining bullets afterwards for fear of reprisals by Free State troops.
Collins’s men brought his body back to Cork where it was then shipped to Dublin because it was feared the body might be stolen in an ambush if it were transported by road.[33] His body lay in state for three days in Dublin City Hall where tens of thousands of mourners filed past his coffin to pay their respects. 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.
Collins’ grave.
Collins’s shooting has provoked many conspiracy theories in Ireland, and even the identity and motives of the assassin are subject to debate. Some Republicans maintain that Collins was killed by a British “plant”. Some Pro-Treaty accounts claim that de Valera ordered Collins’ assassination. Others allege that he was killed by one of his own soldiers, Jock McPeak, who defected to the Republican side with an armoured car three months after the ambush.[34] However, historian Meda Ryan, who researched the incident exhaustively, concluded that there was no real basis for such theories. “Michael Collins was shot by a Republican, who said [on the night of the ambush], ‘I dropped one man'”. Liam Deasy, who was in command of the ambush party, said, “We all knew it was Sonny O’Neill’s bullet.”[35]
Eamon de Valera is reported to have stated in 1966:
“I can’t see my way to becoming Patron of the Michael Collins Foundation. It is my considered opinion that in the fullness of time history will record the greatness of Collins and it will be recorded at my expense”
However, there is some doubt that de Valera ever made this controversial statement.

(TD) for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-chief of the National Army. Throughout this time, at least as of 1919, he was also President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and, therefore, under the bylaws of the Brotherhood, President of the Irish Republic. Collins was shot and killed in August 1922, during the Irish Civil War.Although most Irish political parties recognise his contribution to the foundation of the modern Irish state, supporters of Fine Gael hold his memory in particular esteem, regarding him as their movement’s founding father, through his link to their precursor Cumann na nGaedheal.
Born in Sam’s Cross, West Cork, Collins was the third son and youngest of eight children. Most biographies state his date of birth as 16 October 1890; however, his tombstone gives his date of birth as 12 October 1890. His father, also named Michael, had become a member of the republican Fenian movement, but had left and settled down to farming. The elder Collins was 60 years old when he married Marianne O’Brien, then 23, in 1875. The marriage was apparently happy and they raised eight children on their 90 acre (36 ha) farm in Woodfield. Michael was the youngest child; he was only six years old when his father died. On his death bed his father (who was the seventh son of a seventh son) predicted that his daughter Helena (one of Michael’s elder sisters) would become a nun (which she did, known as Sister Mary Celestine, based in London).He then turned to the family and told them to take care of Michael, because “One day he’ll be a great man. He’ll do great work for Ireland.”Collins was a bright and precocious child, with a fiery temper and a passionate feeling of nationalism. This was spurred on by a local blacksmith, James Santry, and later, at the Lisavaird National School by a local school headmaster, Denis Lyons, a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB).After leaving school aged 15, Collins took the British Civil Service examination in Cork in February 1906, and was then employed by the Royal Mail from July 1906.[citation needed] In 1910, he moved to London where he became a messenger at a London firm of stock brokers, Horne and Company. While in London he lived with his elder sister, and studied at King’s College London. He joined the London GAA and, through this, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a secret, oath-bound society dedicated to achieving Irish independence. Sam Maguire, a Church of Ireland republican from Dunmanway, County Cork, introduced the 19-year-old Collins into the IRB.In 1915, he moved to the Guaranty Trust Company of New York where he remained until his return to Ireland the following year.
Michael Collins first became known during the Easter Rising in 1916. A skilled organiser of considerable intelligence, he was highly respected in the IRB, so much so that he was made financial advisor to Count Plunkett, father of one of the Rising’s organisers, Joseph Mary Plunkett, whose aide-de-camp Collins later became.When the Rising itself took place on Easter Monday, 1916, he fought alongside Patrick Pearse and others in the General Post Office in Dublin. The Rising became (as expected by many) a military disaster. 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 it, notably the seizure of indefensible and very vulnerable positions such as St Stephen’s Green that were impossible to escape from and difficult to supply. (During the War of Independence he ensured the avoidance of such sitting targets, with his soldiers operating as “flying columns” who waged a guerrilla war against the British, suddenly attacking then just as quickly withdrawing, minimising losses and maximising effectiveness.)
Collins, like many of the other participants, was arrested, almost executed and was imprisoned up at Frongoch internment camp. Collins became one of the leading figures in the post-rising Sinn Féin, a small nationalist party which the British government and the Irish media wrongly blamed for the Rising. It was quickly infiltrated by participants in the Rising, so as to capitalise on the “notoriety” the movement had gained through British attacks. By October 1917, Collins had risen to become a member of the executive of Sinn Féin and director of organisation of the Irish Volunteers; Éamon de Valera was president of both organisations.

Like all senior Sinn Féin members, Collins was nominated in the 1918 general election to elect Irish MPs to the British House of Commons in London. As was the case throughout much of Ireland (with many seats uncontested), Collins won for Sinn Féin, becoming MP for Cork South. However, unlike their rivals in the Irish Parliamentary Party, Sinn Féin MPs had announced that they would not take their seats in Westminster, but instead would set up an Irish Parliament in Dublin.That new parliament, called Dáil Éireann (meaning “Assembly of Ireland”, see First Dáil) met in the Mansion House, Dublin in January 1919, although De Valera and leading Sinn Féin MPs had been arrested. Collins, tipped off by his network of spies, had warned his colleagues of the dangers of arrest; de Valera and others ignored the warnings, believing if the arrests happened they would constitute a propaganda coup. In de Valera’s absence, Cathal Brugha was elected Príomh Aire (‘Main’ or ‘Prime’, Minister’, but often translated as ‘President of Dáil Éireann’), to be replaced by de Valera, when Collins helped him escape from Lincoln Prison in April 1919.In 1919, Collins had a number of roles. That summer he was elected president of the IRB (and therefore, in the doctrine of that organisation, de jure President of the Irish Republic). In September he was made Director of Intelligence of the Irish Republican Army, as the Volunteers had come to be known (the organisation’s claim to be the army of the Irish Republic was ratified by the Dáil in January 1919). The Irish War of Independence in effect began on the same day that the First Dáil met on 21 January 1919, when an ambush party of IRA volunteers acting without orders and led by Seán Treacy, attacked a group of Royal Irish Constabulary men who were escorting a consignment of gelignite to a quarry in Soloheadbeg, County Tipperary. Two policemen were shot dead during the engagement and the ambush is considered to be the first action taken in the Irish War of Independence.
In 1919, the already busy Collins received yet another responsibility when de Valera appointed him to the Aireacht (ministry) as Minister for Finance.[11] Understandably, in the circumstances of a brutal war, in which ministers were liable to be arrested or killed by the Royal Irish Constabulary, the British Army, the Black and Tans or the Auxiliaries at a moment’s notice, most of the ministries existed only on paper, or as one or two people working in a room of a private house.This was not the case with Collins, however, who produced 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. The Russian Republic, in the midst of its own civil war, ordered Ludwig Martens, head of the Soviet Bureau in New York City, to acquire a “national loan” from the Irish Republic through Harry Boland, offering some of the Russian Crown Jewels as collateral (the jewels remained in a Dublin safe, forgotten by all sides, until the 1930s, when they were found by chance).Collins created a special assassination unit called The Squad designed to kill British agents; arranged the “National Loan”; organised the IRA; effectively led the government when de Valera travelled to and remained in the United States for an extended period of time; and managed an arms-smuggling operation.Collins and Richard Mulcahy were the two principal organisers for the Irish Republican Army, insofar as it was possible to direct the actions of scattered and heavily localised guerrilla units. Collins is often credited with organising the IRA’s guerrilla “flying columns” during the War of Independence, although to suggest Collins organised this single handedly would be false. He had a prominent part in the formation of the flying columns but the main organiser would have been Dick McKee, later killed by the British in disputed circumstances on Bloody Sunday. In addition, a great deal of IRA activity was carried out on the initiative of local leaders, with tactics and overall strategy developed by Collins or Mulcahy.In 1920, the British offered a bounty of £10,000 (equivalent to GB£300,000 / €360,000 in 2010) for information leading to the capture or death of Collins. His fame had so transcended the IRA movement that he was nicknamed “The Big Fellow”. Irish author Frank O’Connor, who participated in the Irish Civil War, gave a different account of the nickname. He said that it began as an ironic, even scornful, reference to Collins’ efforts to be taken seriously by others, seen as bordering on self-importance.In July 1921, the British suddenly offered a truce. Collins later said that at that time, the IRA was weeks–or even days–from collapse for want of ammunition. He added that when he and his colleagues heard of the truce offer, “Frankly, we thought they were mad.”[citation needed] Arrangements were made for a conference between the British government and the leaders of the as-yet unrecognised Irish Republic. Other than the Soviet Union, no other state gave diplomatic recognition to the 1919 republic, despite sustained lobbying in Washington by de Valera and prominent Irish-Americans, as well as attempts (by Irish-Americans and others) to have representatives of the Irish Republic[13] invited to the 1919 Versailles conference by Seán T. O’Kelly.In August 1921, de Valera made the Dáil upgrade his office from Prime Minister to President of the Irish Republic, which ostensibly made him equivalent to George V in the negotiations. Earlier while in America, Dev had begun using the title “President” while speaking across that country trying to raise funds, a move which brought him into conflict with some members of the IRB, whose constitution and bylaws declared their own president, Collins in this case, President of the Irish Republic.Eventually, however, he announced that as the King would not attend, then neither would he. Instead, with the reluctant agreement of his cabinet, de Valera nominated a team of delegates headed by Vice-President Arthur Griffith, with Collins as his deputy. While he thought that de Valera should head the delegation, Collins agreed to go to London.

The majority of the Irish Treaty delegates including Arthur Griffith (leader), Robert Barton and Eamonn Duggan (with Robert Erskine Childers as Secretary General to the delegation) set up headquarters at 22 Hans Place in Knightsbridge on 11 October 1921 and resided there until conclusion of the negotiations in December. Collins took up separate quarters at 15 Cadogan Gardens. His personal staff included Liam Tobin, Ned Broy and Joe McGrath.[15] Collins himself protested his appointment as envoy plenipotentiary, as he was not a statesman and his revelation to the British (he had previously kept his public presence to a minimum) would reduce his effectiveness as a guerilla leader should hostilities resume.The negotiations ultimately resulted in the Anglo-Irish Treaty which was signed on 6 December 1921, which envisaged a new Irish state, to be named the “Irish Free State” (a literal translation from the Irish language term Saorstát Éireann), which appeared on the letterhead de Valera used, though de Valera had translated it less literally as the Irish Republic.”Saorstat Eireann” was, in fact, the title used for the Irish Republic in the proclamation of the provisional government in 1916.The treaty provided for a possible all-Ireland state, subject to the right of a six-county region in the northeast to opt out of the Free State. If this happened, an Irish Boundary Commission was to be established to redraw the Irish border, which Collins expected would so reduce the size of Northern Ireland as to make it economically unviable, thus enabling unity, as most of the unionist population was concentrated in a relatively small area in eastern Ulster. The Irish Free State was established in December 1922, and as expected, Northern Ireland exercised its option to remain part of the United Kingdom proper.The new state was to be a Dominion, with a bicameral parliament, executive authority vested in the king but exercised by an Irish government elected by a lower house called Dáil Éireann (translated this time as “Chamber of Deputies”), an independent courts system, and a level of internal independence that far exceeded anything sought by Charles Stewart Parnell or the subsequent Irish Parliamentary Party.While it fell short of the republic that he’d originally fought to create, Collins concluded that the Treaty offered Ireland “the freedom to achieve freedom.” Nonetheless, he knew that the treaty, and in particular the issue of partition, would not be well received in Ireland. Upon signing the treaty, he remarked “I have signed my own death warrant.”Republican purists saw it as a sell-out, with the replacement of the republic by dominion status within the British Empire, and an Oath of Allegiance made (it was then claimed) directly to the King. The actual wording shows that the oath was made to the Irish Free State, with a subsidiary oath of fidelity to the King as part of the Treaty settlement, not to the king unilaterally.Sinn Féin split over the treaty, and the Dáil debated the matter bitterly for ten days until it was approved by a vote of 64 to 57. The Supreme Council of the IRB, which had been kept informed in detail about every facet of the Treaty negotiations and which had approved many of its provisions, voted unanimously to accept the Treaty, with the single notable exception of later COS of the IRA Liam Lynch. De Valera joined the anti-treaty faction opposing the concessions. His opponents charged that he had prior knowledge that the crown would have to feature in whatever form of settlement was agreed.
The Treaty was extremely controversial in Ireland. First, Éamon de Valera, President of the Irish Republic until 9 January, had been unhappy that Collins had signed any deal without his and his cabinet’s authorisation. Second, the contents of the Treaty were bitterly disputed. De Valera and many other members of the republican movement objected to Ireland’s status as a dominion of the British Empire and to the symbolism of having to give a statement of faithfulness to the British king to this effect. Also controversial was the British retention of Treaty Ports on the south coast of Ireland for the Royal Navy. Both of these things threatened to give Britain control over Ireland’s foreign policy. Most of the Irish Republican Army opposed the Treaty, opening the prospect of civil war.Under the Dáil Constitution adopted in 1919, Dáil Éireann continued to exist. De Valera resigned the presidency and sought re-election (in an effort to destroy the newly approved Treaty), but Arthur Griffith replaced him after the close vote on 9 January. (Griffith called himself “President of Dáil Éireann” rather than de Valera’s more exalted “President of the Republic”.) However, this government, or Aireacht, had no legal status in British constitutional law, so another co-existent government emerged, nominally answerable to the House of Commons of Southern Ireland.The new Provisional Government (Rialtas Sealadach na hÉireann) was formed under Collins, who became “President of the Provisional Government” (i.e., Prime Minister). He also remained Minister for Finance of Griffith’s republican administration. An example of the complexities involved can be seen even in the manner of his installation:In British legal theory he was a Crown-appointed prime minister, installed under the Royal Prerogative. To be so installed, he had to formally meet the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Viscount Fitzalan (the head of the British administration in Ireland).According to the republican view, Collins met Fitzalan to accept the surrender of Dublin Castle, the seat of British government in Ireland. Having surrendered, Fitzalan still remained in place as viceroy until December 1922.According to British constitutional theory, he met Fitzalan to “kiss hands” (the formal name for the installation of a minister of the Crown), the fact of their meeting rather than the signing of any documents, duly installing him in office. Kissing hands was the only mechanism of transfer then, as the relevant British legislation only passed into law on 1 April 1922.In his biography of Michael Collins, Tim Pat Coogan recounted that, when Lord Lieutenant Fitzalan remarked that Collins had arrived seven minutes late for the 16 January 1922 ceremony, Collins replied, “We’ve been waiting over seven hundred years, you can have the extra seven minutes”. The same tale was repeated when Richard Mulcahy took over Beggars’ Bush Barracks, and may be apocryphal.The partition of Ireland between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland was not as controversial. One of the main reasons for this was that Collins was secretly planning to launch a clandestine guerrilla war against the Northern State. Throughout the early months of 1922, he had been sending IRA units to the border and sending arms and money to the northern units of the IRA. In May–June 1922, he and IRA Chief of Staff Liam Lynch organised an offensive of both pro- and anti-treaty IRA units along the new border. British arms supplied to Collins’ Provisional government were instead swapped with the weapons of IRA units, which were sent to the north.
This offensive was officially called off under British pressure on 3 June and Collins issued a statement that “no troops from the 26 counties, either those under official control [pro-treaty] or those attached to the [IRA] Executive [anti-treaty] should be permitted to invade the six county area.” However, low level IRA attacks on the border continued. Such activity was interrupted by the outbreak of civil war in the south, but had Collins lived, there is every chance he would have launched a full-scale guerrilla offensive against Northern Ireland. 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..at least until after Collins’ death; at the end of the civil war, Aiken was COS of the IRA.In the months leading up to the outbreak of civil war in June 1922, Collins tried desperately to heal the rift in the nationalist movement and prevent civil war. De Valera, having opposed the Treaty in the Dáil, withdrew from the assembly with his supporters. Collins secured a compromise, the “Pact”, whereby the two factions of Sinn Féin, pro- and anti-Treaty, would fight the soon-to-be Free State’s first election jointly and form a coalition government afterwards.Collins proposed that the envisaged Free State would have a republican constitution, with no mention of the British king, without repudiating the Treaty, a compromise acceptable to all but the most intransigent republicans. To foster military unity, he established an “army re-unification committee” with delegates from pro- and anti-Treaty factions. He also made efforts to use the secret Irish Republican Brotherhood of which he was president, to get IRA officers to accept the Treaty. However, the British vetoed the proposed republican constitution under the threat of an economic blockade, arguing they had signed and ratified the Treaty in good faith and its terms could not be changed so quickly. By this stage most British forces had been withdrawn from the Free State but thousands remained. Collins was therefore unable to reconcile the anti-Treaty side, whose Army Executive had anyway decided in March 1922 that it had never been subordinate to the Dáil.
On 14 April 1922, a group of 200 anti-Treaty IRA men occupied the Four Courts in Dublin in defiance of the Provisional government. Collins, who wanted to avoid civil war at all costs, did not attack them until June 1922, when British pressure also forced his hand. On 22 June 1922, Sir Henry Wilson, a retired British Army field marshal now serving as Military Advisor to the Craig Administration,[23] was shot dead by two IRA men in Belgravia, London. At the time, it was presumed that the anti-Treaty faction of the IRA were responsible and Winston Churchill told Collins that unless he moved against the Four Courts garrison, he (Churchill) would use British troops to do so.It has since been claimed that Collins ordered the killing of Wilson in reprisal for failing to prevent the attacks on Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland. Joe Dolan—a member of Collins’ “Squad” or assassination unit in the War of Independence and in 1922 a captain in the National Army—said this in the 1950s, along with the statement that Collins had ordered him to try to rescue the two gunmen before they were executed.[24] In any event, this forced Collins to take action against the Four Courts men and the final provocation came when they kidnapped J.J. “Ginger” O’Connell, a provisional government general. After a final attempt to persuade the men to leave, Collins borrowed two 18 pounder artillery pieces from the British and bombarded the Four Courts until its garrison surrendered.[25]This led to the Irish Civil War as fighting broke out in Dublin between the anti-Treaty IRA and the provisional government’s troops. Under Collins’ supervision, the Free State rapidly took control of the capital. In July 1922, anti-Treaty forces held the southern province of Munster and several other areas of the country. De Valera and the other anti-Treaty TDs sided with the anti-Treaty IRA. By mid-1922, Collins in effect laid down his responsibilities as Chairman of the Provisional Government to become Commander-in-Chief of the National Army, a formal, structured, uniformed army that formed around the nucleus of the pro-Treaty IRA. The Free State Army that was armed and funded by the British was rapidly expanded with Irish veterans of the British Army (a large number of whom may presumed to have been previously members of John Redmond’s “National Volunteers” after the split from the original Irish Volunteers) and young men unassociated with the Volunteers during the war to fight the civil war.Collins, along with Richard Mulcahy and Eoin O’Duffy decided on a series of seaborne landings into republican held areas that re-took Munster and the west in July–August 1922. As part of this offensive, Collins travelled to his native Cork, against the advice of his companions, and despite suffering from stomach ache and depression. Collins reputedly told his comrades that “They wouldn’t shoot me in my own county”.[29] It has been questioned why Collins put himself in such danger by visiting the south of the country while much of it was still held by hostile forces. What historian Michael Hopkinson describes as ‘plentiful oral evidence’ suggests that Collins’ purpose was to meet Republican leaders in order to bring the war to an end. In Cork city, he met with neutral IRA men Seán O’Hegarty and Florrie O’Donoghue, with a view to contacting Anti-Treaty IRA leaders Tom Barry and Tom Hales to propose a truce.Hopkinson asserts though that, although Éamon de Valera was in west Cork at the time, “there is no evidence that there was any prospect of a meeting between de Valera and Collins”.Collins’ personal diary outlined his plan 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”.
The last known photograph of Collins alive was taken as he made his way through Bandon, County Cork in the back of an army vehicle. He is pictured outside White’s Hotel (now Munster Arms) on 22 August 1922. On the road to Bandon, at the village of Béal na mBláth (Irish, “the Mouth of Flowers”), Collins’ column stopped to ask directions. However the man whom they asked, Dinny Long, was also a member of the local Anti-Treaty IRA. An ambush was then prepared for the convoy when it made its return journey back to Cork city. They knew Collins would return by the same route as the two other roads from Bandon to Cork had been rendered impassable by Republicans. The ambush party, commanded by Liam Deasy, had mostly dispersed to a nearby pub by 8:00 p.m., when Collins and his men returned to Béal na mBlath but the remaining five ambushers on the scene opened fire on Collins’s convoy. The ambushers had laid a mine on the scene, which could have killed many more people in Collins’s party, but they had disconnected it by the time the firing broke out.

Kitty Kiernan, Collins’ fiancée.Collins was killed in the subsequent gun battle, which lasted about 20 minutes, from 8:00 p.m. to 8:20 p.m. He was the only fatality. He had ordered his convoy to stop and return fire, instead of choosing the safer option of driving on in his touring car or transferring to the safety of the accompanying armoured car, as his companion, Emmet Dalton, had wished. He was killed while exchanging rifle fire with the ambushers. Under the cover of the armoured car, Collins’s body was loaded into the touring car and driven back to Cork. At the time of his death, he was engaged to Kitty Kiernan.There is no consensus as to who fired the fatal shot. The most recent authoritative account suggests that the shot was fired by Denis (“Sonny”) O’Neill, an Anti-Treaty IRA fighter and a former British Army marksman who died in 1950.[33] This is supported by eyewitness accounts of the participants in the ambush. O’Neill was using dum-dum ammunition, which disintegrates on impact and which left a gaping wound in Collins’s skull. He dumped the remaining bullets afterwards for fear of reprisals by Free State troops.Collins’s men brought his body back to Cork where it was then shipped to Dublin because it was feared the body might be stolen in an ambush if it were transported by road.[33] His body lay in state for three days in Dublin City Hall where tens of thousands of mourners filed past his coffin to pay their respects. 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.

Collins’ grave.Collins’s shooting has provoked many conspiracy theories in Ireland, and even the identity and motives of the assassin are subject to debate. Some Republicans maintain that Collins was killed by a British “plant”. Some Pro-Treaty accounts claim that de Valera ordered Collins’ assassination. Others allege that he was killed by one of his own soldiers, Jock McPeak, who defected to the Republican side with an armoured car three months after the ambush.[34] However, historian Meda Ryan, who researched the incident exhaustively, concluded that there was no real basis for such theories. “Michael Collins was shot by a Republican, who said [on the night of the ambush], ‘I dropped one man'”. Liam Deasy, who was in command of the ambush party, said, “We all knew it was Sonny O’Neill’s bullet.”[35]Eamon de Valera is reported to have stated in 1966:”I can’t see my way to becoming Patron of the Michael Collins Foundation. It is my considered opinion that in the fullness of time history will record the greatness of Collins and it will be recorded at my expense”However, there is some doubt that de Valera ever made this controversial statement.

Croke Park Massacre

Sent in by séamus ó murthaile

Croke Park Massacre
Kevin Myers
It’s more than possible that Queen Elizabeth will make an apology for what happened in Croke Park in November 1920, as desired by many people. But before one is entitled to have strong opinions on historical matters, one must at least go to some trouble to learn about them.
Otherwise, one is responding merely to historical mythology, of which the Irish have far too much, and the English (and I do mean English) have almost none at all. This imbalance is one of the many permanently destabilising factors in the relations between the two peoples: one has an energetic narrative, rich in dramatic (and usually inaccurately-recollected) events, and the other has almost a completely blank-sheet about even their own history, never mind Ireland’s.
In my childhood in Leicester, whereas the Irish Myers family were all fascinated by the history of the town — supposedly named after the local king named Lear (yes, the Shakespearian chap), it was where Richard III and Cardinal Wolsey spent their last nights on this earth — none of the local children appeared to have any interest whatever.
There seemed to be almost no communal memory of any event — not even the Luftwaffe bombings in 1940. This is probably true for most of the English — and I have a virtually untestable theory that during the quarter of a millennium of a brutal Norman economic and cultural subjugation of the Anglo-Saxons, ordinary English people learnt to forget as a psychological survival mechanism. But how does one then unlearn amnesia, when one never remembers that one has it?
The Irish, however, “remember” a great deal: the problem is that their narrative is often far worse than the English blank-sheet. The general Irish account for Bloody Sunday is that some 14 British secret agents got their thoroughly deserved come-uppance that morning, and that British soldiers later murdered 14 unarmed people in Croke Park in revenge. Any attempt to correct this compares with Mrs O’ Malley’s valiant efforts with her mop the day that the Ardnacrusha dam wall broke.
There’s a wonderful book about Bloody Sunday by Michael T Foy, ‘Michael Collins’s Intelligence War’ (Sutton) that I sincerely recommend, from which most of the following details are taken.
A Captain Newbury was staying with his wife at a ground-floor flat at 92 Pembroke Street that morning, when two IRA volunteers arrived at the front door. Still in his pyjamas, he fled to the back window, where a third volunteer was waiting: the three men cut him down in a ferocious volley of shots, while his wife screamed beside him.
After throwing a blanket on her husband’s corpse, she collapsed, and gave birth to a stillborn baby. Some days later she herself died. Michael Foy thinks that Captain Newbury was not an intelligence officer. Of the 13 defenceless men murdered in their bedrooms that morning, Foy reckons eight were intelligence-officers: the other five were “unlucky”.
These included two Irish Catholics, an RAF officer (and cousin of Oscar Wilde) Lt L E Wilde, and Captain Patrick McCormack, an army vet, who were both murdered in their beds in the Gresham Hotel.
It could have been far, far worse: many decent IRA men simply ignored their orders, and shot no one.
In the aftermath of this slaughter, Dublin Castle correctly sensed that many soldiers and RIC Auxiliaries would be thirsting for revenge, and confined as many as possible to barracks. Alas, some Auxiliaries, aided by untrained recruits from the Depot at Phoenix Park, arrived at Croke Park, and perpetrated the infamous and legendary slaughter.
But according to Michael Foy — and I am inclined to believe him — these RIC men were out of control. They were not following orders, nor were they implementing policy of any kind.
Six of the Croke Park dead were buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, along with the bodies of the innocent Wilde and McCormack.
These evil events now exist largely in a realm of legend, which states that the British secret service was crippled in one brilliantly organised stroke, and so the cruel British army got its revenge with a massacre of the innocents of Croke Park.
But no soldiers opened fire at Croke Park, just policemen — and most of the recruits doing the shooting were Irish. And if the British intelligence was so crippled by the assassinations, how come the terms of the Treaty 13 months later so comprehensively favoured Britain’s strategic interests?
Queen Elizabeth was not born when Bloody Sunday occurred, and neither she nor any of her family had any association with it. This cannot be said of the Irish State, of which the third Taoiseach, Sean Lemass, was involved in the shooting of an unarmed army officer that morning — the one-legged Captain Baggalay, who was not involved in intelligence, but in civil administration.
His murder was an atrocious affair, but no intelligent person would seek an apology for such a deed in the middle of a very dirty war so long ago.
For the queen to offer a one-sided sorry for Bloody Sunday would merely give a fresh and needless lift to the wings of nationalist mythology; while for the poor dead Newburys in their pitiful Pembroke Street flat, no one either knows or cares

Daniel Brett McNally IRA Tipperary

In reference to :

http://irishvolunteers.org/2011/03/ira-tipperary-mullinahone/

Thanks. I have named my son, Daniel Brett McNally, since Sean Brett is a relative. Do you have any more details about these three individuals memorilised there in Mullinahone? I hope to visit Poulecapple and Mullinahone next year with my daughters. My grandparents are from Poulecapple. I look forward to our visit this next year in 2012, about August or so. I am not sure I am emailing to, but, have a nice day and thanks again for the info. My daughter loves and does Irish dancing. Sleep well. Charles.

in reference to :

http://irishvolunteers.org/2011/03/ira-tipperary-mullinahone/

Comdt. Vincent Byrne II Bn, Dublin Brigade, Old IRA

We have received a message from Gerard kenny,the details are below,

“Hello, I met your group at the Cork Militaria fair a while back and just wanted to say it is an excellent site you have. I particularly liked the photos of Belfast and Cork display. You might be interested that I just put online the Vinny Byrne Photo, Document and Scrapbook collection here”  :

Regards,
Gerard

Vincent (Vinny) Byrne Joined the Irish volunteers in 1915 at the age of 14. He fought in E Company, 2nd Battalion during the 1916 Easter Rising at Jacobs Biscuit Factory on Bishop Street, Dublin seeing for the first time a man killed by gunfire. At one point armed with a .22 rifle the 14 year old Byrne held 2 policemen prisoner. He fought here alongside men such as Thomas MacDonagh, John McBride (a veteran of the Boer War) and Mick McDonnell (later leader of the Squad). After the surrender order he escaped and was arrested in a British Army sweep on the following Saturday. A group of the younger rebels were then held in Richmond Barracks (generally treated well in comparison to those at the Rotunda). One of the DMP men who fingerprinted him at Richmond Barracks was Detective Johnny Barton (later killed by Collins Squad on 29th November 1919). During questioning he was asked “Why did I not join the British Army. I said I would be fighting for England then and not for Ireland.” Due to their age they were released the following Friday evening (the older men being deported to Stafford Jail and then Frongoch Concentration Camp in Wales). In his statement to the Bureau of Military History he noted that “It might be well to mention that, strangely enough, in later years I was officer commanding this same barracks where I was held prisoner.”

Vinny Byrne went on the fight with Michael Collins counter intelligence unit ‘The Squad’, taking part in the standard guerilla warfare activities of intelligence gathering, raids for weapons, vehicles and supplies, ambushes, attacks and assasinations all throughout the Irish War of Independence (January 1919 – Truce July 1921). Below is an incomplete timeline of some of the operations he took part in from November 1919 through to Bloody Sunday of November 1920. It may be worth reading the notes at the end as some of this information is conflictive.

Sample one year timeline of Vinny Byrne activity Irish War of Independence

Document and Scrapbook collection here :

http://www.militaria-archive.com/independence/independence.html

By Admin:

Thank you very much Gerard, we really appreciate it, we need more people sending in information all the time.

William (Bill) Deegan Dublin Brigade of the IRA.Information required.

Hi there, My grandfather William (Bill) Deegan was a member of the Dublin Brigade of the IRA. He died on 13 January 1946 and is buried in Glasnevin. I have received information that says he fought at the Four Courts under deValera. Any info you may have on him would be a great help.
Many thanks, Terry

Tom Conway, O/C Communications, from Tipperary No. 3 Brigade, Information Required,

Looking for information on my grandfather, Tom Conway, O/C Communications, from Tipperary No. 3 Brigade, shot & captured, then went to U.S. in 1925. to best of knowledge. any info would be appreciated – see page 197 of Florence O’Donoghue book “No Other Law” the story of Liam Lynch and the IRA. 1916 – 1923