Wednesday, August 22, 2007

85th Anniversary of the Death of "The Big Fella", Michael Collins

"It is my considered opinion that in the fullness of time, history will record the greatness of Michael Collins, and it will be recorded at my expense."
~ Eamon de Valera

G. Thomas Fitzpatrick at Recta Ratio reminds us that today is the 85th anniversary of the assassination in an ambush by IRA extremists of one of my heroes - Irish patriot Michael Collins:
Eighty-five years ago today, Michael Collins, driving force of Irish independence and first Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Army was murdered in an ambush by the IRA. Collins had been instrumental in negotiating the treaty by which Britain recognized Irish independence within the Commonwealth and in urging Irish voters to accept the treaty. But the IRA and de Valera, demanding a complete break no matter what the realities, would not be satisfied with the results of the election, and began a civil war.

Collins, a native of Cork, was driving along rural areas in an inspection tour to gauge sentiment and to do some secret negotiation with the IRA. In fact, he was travelling under a guarantee of safe conduct from the IRA. In Bael na m Blath ("the Mouth of Flowers"), the small convoy was ambushed. Collins took cover behind his car. The attack lost steam, and Collins' guard began to take the initiative. Just then, Collins stood up to either order his men to go up into the hills after the attackers, or call on the partisans to surrender. He was shot through the head. Ireland was doomed to 50 years of corruption and stagnation under de Valera and his successors.

My Comments:
A truly great man. For more on Michael Collins, see

Michael Collins - The Lost Leader,

The Michael Collins Centre,

The Michael Collins Web Page,

and The "Michael Collins" Official Movie Site (ignore the horribly miscast Julia Roberts bit).

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At 8/22/2007 12:36 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Collins and Winston Churchill (!), of all people, actually got along rather well during the negotiations that led to the founding of the Free State. Each developed a grudging admiration and genuine respect for each other.

I'm willing to concede greatness to Collins. OTOH, Eamonn de Valera was a grade-A certified sack of what I know from shinola.

I own a commemorative one pound coin minted the year after Churchill's death. For some reason, the prominent quote that came with the plastic package enclosing the coin is by that morally withered descendent of Armada boat trash.

At 8/22/2007 12:40 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

I, too, am no fan of de Valera.

But tell us how YOU really feel about the man, Dale.


At 8/22/2007 1:53 PM, Blogger Morning's Minion said...

Jay-- I'm glad on can debate you on something other than US politics!

A couple of things: the Cumann nn nGaedhael government of the 1922-26 period was Collins's party. They did not have a stellar record, and represented mainly landed interests. Whatever else about Dev, be attracted the support of small farmers and industrial workers. And given the personalities in Fine Gael at the time, I sincerely doubt they would have performed better than Dev after 1926 (they even had a comical turn to fascism in the "Hail O'Duffy" blueshirt movement).

More fundamentally: whatever on the nobility of the cause, some of Collins's tactics were morally illicit. Among other things, he engaged in targeted assassinations of policement and civil servants.

At 8/23/2007 12:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, the sound of Minion's knee jerking. Haven't heard that in a while. But then I don't read Vox Nova.

At 11/07/2007 6:36 PM, Anonymous Joseph Anderson said...

Thanks for remembering Collins! He's my hero too and I remember every August 22 and October 16.


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