Michael Collins - World Famous Freedom Fighter
In Ireland’s eight hundred years of occupation by British rule, Michael Collins was the Irish freedom fighter who probably gained most respect from the invading troops and their commanding officers.
His fearsome reputation and his explicit intelligence gathering, brought havoc on British plans to rule Ireland when Collins was in command in the early 1920's.
Michael Collins was born in a rural outpost of Clonakilty, Co. Cork and his elderly father predicted soon after his birth‘that this child would one day have a major bearing on Ireland’s struggle for freedom’.
As a young boy he was educated locally but left his homeland in his teens to work for the Post Office in London. Whilst in England he joined the Gaelic Athletic Association, The Gaelic League, the I.R.B. and the Irish Volunteers.
He finally returned to Ireland and took up residence in Dublin and took part in the Easter Rising of 1916. Collins, along with Eamon de Valera and several other close rebel colleagues, were arrested after the Rising and imprisoned at Frangoch Prison in Wales.
In prison a new resolve was conceived and endorsed to finally free Ireland. Released from the Welsh prison prior to Eamon de Valera, Michael Collins realised that de Valera was required in Dublin to mastermind operations with himself. He originated a daring escape plot to get his Sinn Féin colleague Dev out of Lincoln Jail.
In a historic prison break, the success of Collin’s operation caused huge outrage in the British establishment and Michael Collins was at the helm of that initiative.
During the War of Independance Collins was the Director of Intelligence of the I.R.A. He set up and controlled a very effective spy network which kept him informed and ahead of upcoming British operations in Ireland.
He organised an elite but small group of I.R.A. men, known as ‘The Squad’ and many key British Military officers were ambushed and killed as Collins men inflicted mayhem on occupying forces.
In the fall of 1921 the British government finally summoned an Irish delegation to London to negotiate an Irish settlement as they believed the Corkman was almost impenetrable.
Eamon deValera took the first steps at the initial negotiations but with divisions between the opposing parties too deep for resolution, it was not possible to get immediate agreement.
For the next instalment of the Treaty negotiations Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins were now reluctantly appointed as delegation leaders by De Valera who refused to go to London personally.
After many grim and confrontational days of negotiations, an impasse existed. The Irish party were given a bold choice. Return home with twenty six counties under Irish Commonwealth control or face resumption of hostilities.
When Collins signed the Treaty to divide Ireland, North and South, he instantly declared ‘that he may have just signed his own death warrant’.
On return to Dublin De Valera and several others refuted the new Treaty as accepted by the delegation and set up opposition to Collins which resulted in a Civil War outbreak. Collins resumed as Army Chief and whilst on a tour of Free State Army bases he was shot dead in his own native Cork by armed former colleagues in August 1922 at mBeal na Blath, near Crookstown, Co. Cork.
Michael Collins is recognised worldwide as probably the most Famous Son of the Island of Ireland.