Michael Collins is probably the most known rebel in Irish History. He was born near Clonakilty in Co. Cork -- the rebel county. When we went to Clonakilty (where we saw Blarney Castle, Mizen Head, etc. ) our main purpose was to see Michael Collins' birthplace and death place. However, that is the one thing we did not do. Because we chose to go to Mizen Head, by the time we passed Michael Collins' birthplace and the place where he was assassinated, it was dark.
However, Our trip was not entirely Michael Collins free. When we were in Clonakilty, we were able to visit the house where he lived for a time. But before I get into that, I'll explain who he was since I'm not sure I've properly done so.
Michael Collins is arguably the greatest man in Irish History -- certainly the more modern history. He won the war on a bicycle. Some call him a terrorist and a murderer, but he fought the only way he knew how to win. He used Guerrilla tactics, and it worked.
|Above: A press like the one the Irish Republican Proclamation was|
printed on while under fire in the GPO.
Below: The bike Michael Collins won the war on.
In the house was a poster of the movie they made about Michael Collins. It was signed by Liam Neeson who played Michael Collins. It is a pretty accurate depiction of his life and what happened during the war of Independence and the Irish Civil War.
|Michael Collins' Free State Uniform|
|With Irish harps on the buttons!|
As a result, the country split in half with the Pro-treaty side being led by Michael Collins and the Anti-treaty side led by Eamon De Valera.
Now, I cannot speak of Michael Collins without speaking of the other side of the coin -- Eamon De Valera.
Although both men fought in the 1916 Rebellion, it was Eamon De Valera who played the bigger role. As one of the leaders of the rebellion, he was imprisoned in Kilmainham Jail with the other leaders such as Patrick Pearse and James Connolly who would go on to be shot. Eamon De Valera, however, was not executed partly because he was an American citizen and at the time, Britain was trying to get America to join World War I.
If Michael Collins was the mastermind behind the military strategy, Eamon De Valera was the brilliant politician. Eamon De Valera was the president of the Irishmen during their Guerilla War of Independence. He is the one who insisted Michael Collins go to London when he would have been the better card to play. We can only speculate at his reasons for this. Perhaps he wanted Michael Collins to be the one to bring back the bad news of either unacceptable terms or a renewed war with the English, plunging the country back into strife and struggle.
|A picture of Michael Collins.|
The Civil War lasted from 1921-1923 and the Michael Collins' Party, Fine Gael, won, defeating Eamon De Valera's party, Fianna Fail, but Michael Collins did not live to see it.
To this day, even though their policies are basically the same, the Fine Gael and Fianna Fail parties are at odds with each-other in the modern government. Although the Fine Gael side might have won the war, Eamon De Valera went on to become the most influential politician in Irish politics and turned his Fianna Fail party to become the most powerful party in Irish politics to this day.
Now that you have the story, there are parts of it I did not tell for the sake of clarity.
Both Eamon De Valera and Michael Collins have strong ties in Greystones, the very town I spent my past 3 months!
Eamon DeValera lived in a house on the road that I walked by nearly everyday going to the cove.
Michael Collins and his betrothed Kitty Keirnan were looking to buy a house just down the road from the "Y."
|The engagement watch Michael Collins gave to Kitty.|
|Michael Collins and Kitty|
Michael Collins spent the night in the La Touche Hotel which Dominates the landscape of Greystones, and I could see out my bedroom window and walked past every day.
He also stopped at the Holy Rosary, which is the church where I went to Mass, where he had his last Holy Communion before traveling to Co. Cork.