Michael Collins – why I despise him.


My grandfather exalted Michael Collins. Yearly on the anniversary of Collins’ slaying my grandfather would travel down to West Cork and attend the memorial service on 22 August. He would meet old timers and tears who silently roll down his plump cheeks. His proudest possession was a photo of the bandaged corpse of The Big Fellow lying in state in the Shankiel Hospital Cork. My grandfather was a teenager at the time of Collins’ death and it had a profound effect on him.

However, despite my love for my late grandfather Donald Brennan, I cannot share his views. My opinions are shaped by my own reason and reading and not out of any blind deference to a relative however much I cherish his memory.

Collins was born in a republican family in 1890. His father was very old when Collins was born and died when Collins was 6. Collins joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood as he entered manhood. He moved to Great Britain as a very young man. Despite living in Great Britain he hated his adopted country. Rather an ingrate wasn’t he? A bit hypocritical I must say. He was in the Gaelic Athletic Association. He argued that the GAA should not allow policemen or servicemen to join nor indeed pensioners from these services to join. He took the bigoted position. A sports association should be about sports and not about shunning people, cultural purism, ethnic hatred and support for terrorism.

Collins took part in the Easter Rising. He was imprisoned in Frongoch in Great Britain and released after a few weeks. This leniency was astonishing. As it turned out it was very short-sighted. Legally he could have been executed. Look at what happened in Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary when people rebelled against their governments at this time? Some were rebelling for nationalistic reasons. They were executed in large numbers. The United Kingdom distinguished itself by its exceptional mercy. A fact that was never acknowledge much less repaid by the Irish republicans.

Collins was noted even among his IRA co-conspirators as being extraordinarily vicious. He liked to insult his comrades and wrestle with him. There were suggestions that he was homosexual. This tittle-tattle is neither here nor there. Most likely this is tart gossip. He was engaged to Kitty Kiernan right at the end of his life. The notions noised about being gay are merely that – there are no first hand accounts of anyone who had gay sex with him or who say evidence of this. It is likely that he was just being a man-child, horseplaying about. He called this, ‘grabbing some ear.’

Collins was happy to kill unarmed men. He did not do it by his own hand but ordered his subordinates to kill suspected spies.  He never bore arms himself in the 1919-21 period. The media somehow caught wind of his name. Newspapers wrongly attributed many attacks to him. His supporters in the Treaty debates lauded him as  ‘the man who won the war.’

He was chairman of the supreme council of Fenians. The Fenians was another name for the IRB. He went to London in the summer of 1921 to negotiate with His Majesty’s Government. He signed the treaty. This was breaking the IRB oath to secure a republic. It is true that a republic did eventually come to be Southern Ireland’s constitutional title in 1949. Collins’ defended his decision on the basis that it was the freedom to achieve freedom.

He was sent to negotiate as he had been unswervingly obdurate until then. Does that mean de Valera who wanted him to fail? This is illogical. De Valera repudiated the deal but de Valera had been kept informed of developments. Sean MacBride had gone back to Ireland many weekends carrying communiques. Moreover, de Valera was in London himself at times even visiting Downing Street. However, he did not negotiate himself. It seems odd though. People say he knew he would not get all he wanted and wished to distance himself from any deal that was less than the full republican demand. Prof. Roy Foster has said that the notion that de Valera wanted Collins to sign because he, de Valera, did not want to have to sell out, is a fundamentally flawed view. What do these people propose de Valera was hoping for? The Treaty to be signed or not? If it was signed for it to be enforced or not? How could any of these outcomes benefit de Valera and his cause?

Much as I loathe Michael Collins he was better than the republican fanatics who rejected the treaty.

They say that if the Dail had voted shortly after the Treaty was concluded on 6 December 1921 then it would not have been ratified. However, Teachata Daili went home to their constituencies for Christmas. They found that many of their constituents welcomed it and asked them to vote in favour of it. As Collins said that, ”the people are our masters and not our servants as some think.”

In the event the Treaty was passed 64-57. Collins spoke well in favour of it. I do not deny his talents.

He had met Sir James Craig in London by accident in a government office. Collins made peace with the United Kingdom. The UK gave him weapons for the new Irish Army. However, he handed these to southern IRA units and these southern IRA units sent guns north. There was horrid sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. Collins was breaking his vow to be at peace with the UK. His bad faith is reprehensible. He was pouring fuel on the flames in Northern Ireland. The UPA was also committing ghastly crimes –  the squalid murders of hundreds of totally innocent people – of the elderly and of children. Collins’ actions cannot be interpreted as a misguided attempt to protect the beleaguered Roman Catholic populace of the Belfast vicinity. He wanted to start a guerrilla campaign in the North. He was against sectarian murders, was he? If so why not try to protect the Protestant community too?

Collins may have ordered the murder of Sir Henry Wilson. Wilson was a very courageous man and the most distinguished Irishman of his age. He was the Chief of Imperial General Staff. He was a stalwart opponent of the IRA and had recently been elected MP for North Down. He was shot dead on his doorstep in London after having unveiled a war memorial at Liverpool Street Station. Wilson was blamed, illogically, for the murder of Roman Catholics in Belfast. Two former Irish Guardsmen, O’Sullivan and Dunne, was were trying to escape from the crime. One of them had lost a leg at Ypres. Not the best choice for someone who needed to make a quick getaway. They were found guilty of the killing and hanged.

The Prime Minister Lloyd George demanded that Collins take action against the IRA. At this point Collins did. Was the slaying of Wilson the immediate cause of the Irish Civil War? Possibly. It might have been that J J ‘Ginger’ O’Connell was kidnapped by the IRA. J J O’Connell was a pro-Treaty man, a high officer in the Irish Army. In order to rescue him from the Four Courts the Irish Army went into its first action, a victorious one.

Collins was shot dead on 2 August 1922. Tim Pat Coogan in his book ‘The Big Fellow’ suggests that it was Sonny O’Neill who shot Collins. It is impossible to know at this distance. I favour the cockup rather than the conspiracy theory. The IRA ambushed Free State convoys all the time. The Free State Army attacked the IRA. There was nothing unusual in that.

Once the IRA engaged Collins’ entourage he could have ordered the roadblock cleared and sped on. One of his subordinates ordered the driver to do just this. In fact Collins countermanded him.  It would have been a much wiser thing to do. Collins may well have lived on for decades but for that. One cannot doubt Collins’ physical bravery at that point but that is not the only nor even the supreme virtue in a leader. It may well be rather unimportant or even harmful. We do not need a leader who feels the need to prove his virility in this manner. A political leader is about other things such as decision making. Militarily I presume that his decision was unsound. I am not tactical expert. His enemies were unknown in number to him – in fact 5 at that time. They were hidden and in an elevated position. Sunset was coming on. There was little chance that the Free State soldiers would do more damage than they would suffer. This proved to be the case. Only two others were hit in that engagement – in fact they were slightly wounded.

Collins’ reputation was saved by dying when he did. Death as a career move, often a good one. He was killed before the Civil War got really nasty. It was partly due to his demise that the gloves came off. IRA prisoners were executed in many cases –  at least 77. In Dail debates decades later it was said to be 84 or 85. There were unofficial killings of prisoners at Ballyseedy.

Would Collins have signed off on orders of frightfulness? Almost certainly he would have done so. He was noted for his extraordinary lack of mercy.

The IRA of course became extra vicious afterwards. They destroyed much of Ireland’s heritage in their torching of stately homes. They killed pro-Treaty politicians and their relatives. I must say this in their favour, I have never heard of the killing prisoners in this phase of the war but as they were on the retreat and doing hit and run they may never have had the opportunity to do so.


About Calers

Born Belfast 1971. I read history at Edinburgh. I did a Master's at UCL. I have semi-libertarian right wing opinions. I am married with a daughter and a son. I am allergic to cats. I am the falling hope of the not so stern and somewhat bending Tories. I am a legal beagle rather than and eagle. Big up the Commonwealth of Nations.

44 responses »

    • Dear Mr Leen,

      Thank you for your challenging viewpoint. I can see how some may assume that there is a certain logic to your claim. I have thought about this but concluded that you are mistaken.

      Collins was a reasonably effective leader of the IRA. He was not the overall leader of course, as that was Cathal Brugha being the so-called Minister of Defence. Collins was far from totally effective as the IRA experience major reverses such as at Clonmult and Upton. The attacks on the Customs House in June 1921 was a major setback for the Dublin Brigade of the IRA with dozens of men being arrested. They were no doubt yielding much information.
      The IRA never managed to seize any towns of any significant size which would be the next stage for irregular fighters. They were of course terrorists but I shall use the neutral term here. Collins’ tactics were studied and adopted by other guerrilla bands such as in Israel where Operation Michael was named after him.
      No, I do not despise Collins for that reason. Do you suppose if he had failed I would like him? The Anti-Treatyites failed in 1923 and I abominate them even more. I detest the Fenians of the 19th century who failed time and again.
      It is not true to say that Collins’ compelled the British military to vacate Southern Ireland. It was a factor but there were several others. The US was the major creditor to the UK and the UK was reliant on the US going easy on the UK about repayments. Moreover, the UK wanted US co-operation over the Washington Conference about the size of navies. American public opinion was mostly pro-IRA. The UK was suffering all sorts of post-war problems and was distratced with unrest in many parts of the Empire. It was feared that the UK may be dragged into another was against the Ottoman Empire.

      Those of Irish republican sympathies in Great Britain were jeremiahs. They made self-fulfilling prophecies. They slandered the British security forces. This demoralised the Crown Forces and encouraged the IRA.

      There are many reasons why I dislike Michael Collins and I shall elaborate later.

      • Dear Nancy Kersey,

        Thanks for your comments. Of course a mature and sensible person can derive pleasure from reading views that they disagree with. Please tell me where we do not see eye to eye.

    • why didn’t he make them leave the 32 counties? It seems he left nothing but a big mess behind him. It should have being all or nothing in my opinion. Our country is like two separate countries that to that decision.

      • sorry key slip…….I was meaning to say “Thanks to that decision”.

      • Pamela/ there had been a dissonance between Ul and the rest of Ireland since the 17th century. In the 1840s partition was first mooted. Ireland was divided because a clear majority of people in the Six Counties were loyalists. In fact only about 50 per cent of people in the South wanted a republic. Many were Home Rulers and a few were unionist. Collins agreed to Partition for all sorts of reasons. Despite myth making the IRA was only partly successfuL. By the Truce is only effectually controlled a tiny portion of Ireland.

  1. I disagree with you. You are a very shallow minded soul. De Valera set up Collins, actually. I mean, why would he send Collins to negotiate the treaty if, De Valera himself was the best negotiator in the land. Collins despised Britain because the British basically exiled him from his own country, as the did with many, so therefore he was a poor man, no where else to go for work than england. I am a believer that Collins did his best, 1916 he was only 26! A kid, basically!!! 32 when he died, he did his very best and guess what, because of him and the other honourable men who fought we have freedom today. De Valera ran to New York, he was a coward and he doesn’t deserve a history. I am a 12 year old and I know this.

    • Dear Miss Sophie,
      I welcome your fascinating comment. You are well informed especially for someone of your age. I am not sure how you personal abuse clarifies the historical debate. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that I am a shallow minded soul. How does this make my analysis wrong? History is the search for truth and not some emotional exercise.
      I agree that Collins did not wish to go to London to negotiate as he said he was a fighter and not a talker. This old chestnut about de Valera sending Collins because de Valera knew that he himself could not bring home the bacon does not stand up to much scrutiny. Are you arguing that de Valera wanted Collins to fail? In which case why negotiate at all? If fighting were to resume after failed talks then this would redound to the advantage of the Crown Forces and not the IRA. Many secret IRA men had blown their cover in the 5 month truce leading up to the Anglo-Irish Treaty. The IRA had taken control of many towns and if the fighting resumed would have tried to defend them. The Crown Forces with greater firepower and mobility would surely prevail in a set piece battle. The UK had been able to calm some disputes it was involved in around the world and gather her forces in case more needed to be sent to Ireland. The IRA could be shown to be unreasonable if talks failed. They were offered so much and yet rejected it. It would cost them much public support.
      Why would de Valera want Collins to take part in talks that de Valera considered to be foredoomed? What possible gain was there for him? Then the conflict would resume and the IRA, as already outlined, would be likely to attempt to fight as a conventional army and thereby suffer some heavy defeats. This would then lead to either an outright IRA defeat or more likely renewed negotiations a year or so on with the Irish public even more desperate for peace.
      I certainly do not see 26 year olds as kids.
      From any standpoint Collins cannot be called honourable. Whether you are pro-Treaty, anti-Treaty, unionist or whatever. He broke just about every public promise he ever made.

      • Furthermore, Madam Sophie, you are unfair on Mr de Valera. He was cantankerous, desiccated, god bothering, arguably terroristic, Nazi placating and all sorts of other things. Cowardly he was not. He fought in 1916 and only his American citizenship saved him from the fate that he richly deserved. The decision not to put him up against a wall was one of the worst in the history of the relationship between Ireland and her eastern neighbour. Admittedly had he been executed things would probably not have turned out very differently.
        Yes, de Valera went to the US in 1919 after Collins busted him out of Strangeways Gaol in Manchester. Much though I loathe de Valera I must acknowledge that he did more to adavnce his cause there than he would have done at home. He raised funds and publicity. Many in the US accepted him as the president of Ireland.
        Further, Collins was not remotely exiled from Ireland. He was not rich but I do not think he could be called poor by the standards of the time. I have seen the ruin of his house. His family was moderately well off. The fact that this absurd claim is made in your writing shows how partisan and dishonest your view of Irish history is. It is true that Ireland’s economy was not as good as the rest of the UK. A lot of people emigrated from Ireland but not many less emigrated out of Great Britain. Why go to Great Britain if it is so foreign? GB is after all the Great Satan for Irish republicans. So GB cannot treat us so badly if so many of us live there. Nowhere else to go? There are dozens of other countries. Most emigrants went to Commonwealth countries or to the US not to mention mainland Europe.

  2. Sorry for your bias but Collins was one of greatest, that is why we are as we are today. Yours on Dev first he had his chance to to do the deal himself on the treaty he travelled to england at least 3 times to peak with Llyod George, and when he could not get what he wanted he done what he had done all his life sent someone else to take the blame.
    Read Times Past in the Carlow Nationalist BACK ISSUES ON LINE to find the truth on Dev.
    Collins had nothing to do with Wilsons death I am afraid it was the same group who were in the Four Courts
    led by Joe McElvey, Rory O’Connor and Liam Mellows who would have been responsible, and yes it was the IRA who were resposible for Collin’s Death, and he did not stop to take them on His escort had been switched, and he was set up I know one of his original escort not to long deceased whom I had a long discussion with, and he knew their was something wrong with the change as most of those who had travelled from Dublin were replaced
    I am a historian probably from your grandfathers time or near enough, so my advice read a bit of history before you denegrate one of our best.

    W.F. white

    • Dear Mr White,

      I am grateful for your comment. You say that I am biased but you do no substantiate this accusation. I challenge you to do so. You offer no evidence that Collins was ”one of the greatest” other than ”we are as we are today.” The condition of the Republic of Ireland, while not as bad a many make out, is not tremendous today.

      I agree with you on a few things. Yes, Eamonn de Valera did travel to London thrice during the Treaty negotiations in 1921. There is that famous photo of a woman kneeling to kiss his hand as he hurries into Downing Street as though he were a Pope or king.

      Appointing Collins to negotiate was perhaps an odd decision. He said he was a fighter and not a talker. On the other hand his obdurate reputation mollified some hardliners in the I.R.A. who were dubious about the Truce.

      Collins’ partisans said that Dev knew that he (Dev) could not get everything he wanted so he sent Collins along. Therefore Collins would carry the can. I have discussed this specious theory with Professor Fitzroy Foster. He says this theory is balderdash. I will tell you what is wrong with it. This means that de Valera wanted the negotiation to fail. When enter into talks in the first instance if one has no intention of them bearing fruit. So what then? The conflict is back on. The I.R.A would be much weakened by its secret members having blown their cover. They had come out into the open and occupied towns. They would then probably try and fight as a conventional army and suffer heavy losses due to the Crown Forces having greater firepower.

      I agree that de Valera ought to have negotiated himself. He was the Priomh Aire as he said. Sometimes he was styled president.

      I look forward to your next contribution with bated breath. They say that people who live in glass houses should no throw stones. I would not question other people’s erudition when your spelling is so poor.

      • You know I am not that interested in argueing just for the sake of it so I will be brief.
        Collins fought in he GPO with Pearse in the 1916 rising and was one of the bravest according to those who served with him.
        Dev was commandant of the 3 rd Battalion which was stationed in Bolands Mill’s, there task to stop any British coming in from the ports. He never fired a shot, the action with this group took place on Mount Street Bridge. There 17 volunteers led by Liutenent Michael Malone who was the hero of the third Batt. defended that bridge first from the Home Guard and then the Sherwood Foresters who had landed at Dun Laoghaire
        Again Malone and Michael Grace opened fire followed by the other men.
        Ten died in the first volley and many more would follow, but where was Dev. According to his men he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and issuing ridiculous orders, all the while the 17 on the bridge fought and many died as Dev was pleaded with by his men to send reinforcements, he refused. On the Sunday of the Surrender he slipped away at noon, and left his men to their fate..
        When the Custom house was destroyed and all our records in 1921, Dev had at first ordered an attack on Beggars Bush Barracks which was stoutly defended at the time, while at best between the first and second Dublin Brigades they perhaps had 150 on active service even though 10,000 were on the books. Imagine the 120 that burned the Custom House were issued with a revolver and six rounds each, that was it, imagine if Collins and Ennis had not put that idea down what would have happened to these inexperienced young men at Beggars Bush.

        Back to Collins, he was well respected in the IRB, he was director of organisation with the Irish Volunteers and although only joining Sinn Fein in 1916 was on thr Executive within a year, he clearly stood out. Remember it was Collins who helped Dev get out of Lincoln Jail.
        In 1919 he was president of the IRB Director of Intelligence in the IRA, Minister for Finance where he was the man that raised the Bond loan thet financed the early days. When Dev went to and stayed in the US Collins and Mulcahy were the men who kept the show running.
        Collins had a bounty of£10,000 on his head
        De Valera’s excuse for not continueing treaty talks with Llyod George was that George V the head of state in Britain was not doing so why should he as the head of state in Ireland do so either. What State? we did not have one yet. Instead he appointed Arthur Griffith as leader of the Delegation with Collins as his deputy. It is common knowledge that Collins was the real leader.
        Collins did not suffer either fools, informers or traitors, and if you go back through Irish History it is easy to see why. He was never afraid either in front of the gun or when challenged in his actions, anything he done was for Ireland not for himself.
        You cant blame Collins for they state we are in now He died to soon for that.
        Cant say the same for Dev. he was responsible for keeping foreign investment out of this country all the time he was Taoiseach. It was laft to Ken Whitaker and Lemass to achieve this. I have no doubt that had Collins been alive during our first fifty years he would have seen to it much earlier.

      • Dear Mr White,

        I agree with some of what you say. The Irish Volunteers in the Easter Rising fought fairly effectively. They had the element of surprise on their side.

        Many of the troops sent to defeat the Easter Rising were conscripts who had been called up since January 1916 and had even less training than the Irish Volunteers. The British Army at least had artillery and the support of the gunboat Helga which shelled IRA positions.

        The defence of Mount Street Bridge was carried out very effectively and cost the army many casualties.

        I have read Tim Pat Coogan’s work on de Valera during the Easter Rising. He says that de Valera lost the plot. He was trembling in a corner and mumbling incoherently. Dev could not take the strain of command. I could not either which is one of the many reasons I have never put myself in that position. Some of Dev’s loyalists threatened the other volunteers. They were told never to reveal that Dev had lost his nerve and if they did so they would be severely punished.

        Collins was unafraid of death. That does not make him good. Why do people assume that bravery equals morality? On the other hand there is no reason to think that cowardice equals badness.

        There were many courageous SS men who sincerely believed in their cause but were also thoroughly wicked men who willfully committed the most heinous atrocities. This is not to say that the Irish Volunteers were as bad as the SS.

        I am unsure as to whether Collins would have been a great political leader. What evidence makes you so sure?

        I think that it was wrong of de Valera to give the delegation powers to negotiate, to keep himself abreast of developments and then to repudiate the deal they signed. Presidents often negotiate – look at Obama. So why should de Valera not have negotiated if that was his view? Pearse styled himself president and he negotiated surrender.

        British monarchs in recent centuries have not negotiated but left it to the Prime Minister.

        My beef with Collins is his bad faith and his terrorism. I disagree with his cause. Beyond that he served it wickedly by ordering the deaths of civilians. So many informers were killed – so-called informers. If there were that many the IRA would have been defeated long before. This was just vengeance and crime. Killing off people if you coveted their property. To some extent it was sectarian and also a means of taking out ex servicemen.

  3. Dear Calers,
    I enjoyed reading the title of your blog. However, I found in it a number of false claims for which you have no proof and some rather illogical conclusions. For example, you state that:

    “Collins was born in(to) a republican family in 1890. His father was very old when Collins was born and died when Collins was 6. Collins joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood as he entered manhood. He moved to Great Britain as a very young man. Despite living in Great Britain he hated his adopted country. Rather an ingrate wasn’t he? A bit hypocritical I must say.”

    I do not think that he was not an ungrateful ingrate or a hypocrite by doing this. To begin with there is no evidence to suggest that he “hated” Great Britian in fact there is more evidence to suggest that he admired Great Britain. Furthermore to claim that Britain was his “adopted country” is simply outlandish and makes no sense. He was born into a Republican family and was indoctrinated from a very early age into the Republican belief system, so it does not seem likely that he had intentions of staying in Britian. And it is far more likely that he went to Britain simply to get a job and since his older sister was already working there, at the same bank (I think) he followed her over for a time, that’s all. You neglect to mention also that he returned home to Ireland at a very early age, and I have to wonder why.
    By signing the Treaty Collins made his a coup d’etate a fait accompli, cutting off Devalera’s democratically endowed powers, and leaving Collins as the British Governor General (or military dictator) of Ireland. Knowing his intelligence, and how he later broke The Pact, it seems clear that it was a naked grab for power. As for the moral or ethical reasons behind it, we will never know. Maybe he thought Dev was impractical (which at the time, he most certainly seems to have been). Maybe he was genuinely afraid of Lloyd George’s threats of immediate and Terrible (read Terorrism) war.
    You write that:

    “He (Collins) was sent to negotiate as he had been unswervingly obdurate until then.”

    This is another fallacy. Collins was the one who suggested that they accept the Truce inorder to go over and negotiate. Some theorize that he was already negotiating with the British secretly, when this happened. You go on:

    “Does that mean de Valera who wanted him to fail? This is illogical…What do these people propose de Valera was hoping for? The Treaty to be signed or not? If it was signed for it to be enforced or not? How could any of these outcomes benefit de Valera and his cause?”

    DeValera was hoping, as were millions of others, that a treaty would be signed inwhich Ireland’s political and religious relationship to the monarchy/dictatorship of the United Kingdom would finally be permanently severed. So yes, he wanted an end to the war and to see Collins succeed, but he also wanted to be true to the democratic wishes of the Irish people who endorsed the creation of the Irish Republic by vote. The Treaty betrayed that Republic and inessence, dissolved it, which Collins did not have the legal power to do, even as a plenipotentiary.
    As for the Anti-Treaty “fanatics”, most were simply soldiers following their conscience as they had taken a solemn oath to defend their nation (the Irish Republic) against all enemies foreign and domestic. All soldiers do this and if any group in Ireland was “fanatical” at the time, it was the Ulster Volunteers who had sworn to fight Great Britain inorder to remain PART of Great Britain. Somethign which was both ungrateful and hypocritical given how many of them dominated the British army at the time.
    John Smyth

    • Dear Mr Smyth,
      I thank you for your long and fairly engaging comment. I do not disagree with everything that you say. You do at least concur with me that Collins family was steeped in the IRB.

      Collins moved to Great Britain when he was about 16. The IRB was dedicated to attacking Great Britain and had set off bombs in the streets of Great Britain before. I call that hatred of Great Britain. Would it be called love? One tends to detest the enemy . He was in in the GAA who said anyone who served in the British Armed Forces must be banned from joining the GAA. Yes, this evinces hatred of Great Britain to me. Other republicans such as Wolfe Tone boasted of their malignant odium for England certainly. Whether this attached to the whole of Great Britain I am not sure.

      I knew that Collins was circumspect about the prospect of the IRA fighting after July 1921. He said we could not have lasted another 6 weeks. Or was it 3 weeks? The point remains the same even if I have fluffed the figure. Collins was seen as a hawk. He did not want to negotiate as he did not see himself a s a talker so0 much or a politician. I have not footnoted this but hard evidence should not be hard to find.

      The Anti-Treaty IRA were fanatical. They were a minority faction within the IRA which was already a violent and hardline minority of the population. Dail Eireann approved the Treaty 64 votes to 57. The Dail was made up only of Sinn Feiners. Oner of the few one party parliaments in the world at the time.

      The electorate in the South of Ireland voteed about 75% for the Treaty., How can therefore trying to destroy the peace be upholding the wishes of the people of Ireland.? In Northern Ireland almost everybody was for the Treaty. Perhaps ironically most northern IRA units were pro Treaty. Unionists accepted the Treaty. The thought it copper fastened the Union and in a sense they were right.

      The Anti Treaty men wanted to re-start a fight – to break a peace agreement with the United Kingdom. That is a very unrighteous thing to do. You nay not agree with the deal but it has been signed and ratified and one must accept it. The Government of the Republic if you like dissolved the republic as they are entitled to do. Sinn Fein’s programme of 1917 said they wished to establish a republic and then permit the people to choose their own form of government. The people chose a monarchy.
      As Collins knew the IRA could not win. The republican movement was largely spent and suffered major reverses in the summer of 1921. If fighting between the Crown forces and the IRA had broken out anew in late 1921 the IRA would probably have lost heavily at first at any rate – especially if it tried to defend fixed positions. The public weary of the fight would probably increasingly have rallied to the Crown just to get the conflict over with. Sinn Fein would be seen as unreasonable for having passed up a good channe foe peace.

      I have elsewhere heavily castigated the stiff necked attitude of the UVF. I AM against the UVF of that time. I do not want Home Rule or would not have wanted it., of course it is rather hard to say what one would have thought at the time but there we are. However, Parliament was entitled to pass that fir the whole f Ireland. It was wrong to threaten violence in order to try and exclude Ulster or any portion of Ulster from Home Rule. In view of what transpired it is a pity that Home Rule was not enacted much earlier and put into action.

  4. Dear Mr. Calers-
    I am a high school student in New York. I am doing a project on Michael Collins and need two differing perspectives on “the Big Fella”. I would like to use the perspective you gave in your blog as one of the opinions. However, I am not very experienced with computers and cannot tell if you backed up your sources. My teacher says we must use “credible sources”, and I would be very grateful if you could just reply to show me that you did do research before you voiced the opinions. Thank you.

  5. Dear Calers-
    I tried to post this earlier today and am not sure if I accidentally deleted it, so I am trying again. I am a high school student in New York, and I am doing a project on Michael Collins. I need two articles with differing opinions on him, and I would like to use your blog entry as one of the perspectives. However, I am not experienced with computers and I cannot tell if you listed any sources to back up your argument. I need to be sure that you did to use the entry in my presentation. I would really appreciate it if you could reply to show me where you listed your sources, or to tell me what they are. Thank you very much.

    • Dear Mary,
      I am elated that you would like to use my work. I used Long Fellow, Lond Shadow by Tim Pat Coogan. It is mainly about de Valera but also about Collins. I also used the Big Fellow by the same author. I used T Ryle Dwyer’;s book on Collins. I used various archive materials from thew National Library of Ireland and the Public Record Office of the UK.

  6. Dear Calers-
    These responses are the first times I’ve ever posted something online, so it’s pretty exciting. Thank you for getting back to me so quickly, this will really help me out.

  7. “The decision not to put him up against a wall was one of the worst in the history of the relationship between Ireland and her eastern neighbour.” For some one that is educated in history this statement is plain stupid I can think off an awful lot worse thinks that happened. Cromwell in Drogheda and Wexford,the penal laws, forced evictions during the famine, the black and tans, the first bloody Sunday, the treatment of catholic’s in the north,the B specials, the UDR, the second bloody Sunday, Loughall Enniskillen, Manchester, Omagh. Do you honestly think that these are not more important decisions and actions than the execution of a leader of the Easter rising, seeing that 15 were executed and the rebellion was not stopped. I think that maybe you should read more history books before you post things or maybe just state all the facts and let people make up their own minds.

    • Dear Joe,
      Thanks for your strongly worded comment. I welcome comments even if they totally disagree with my writings. The moral and legal case for executing Michael Collins was overwhelming. He proved to be a very effective terrorist in later years. The world would have been much better off without him from 1916-21. I will admit that in the Irish Civil War he was on the right side. At the same time though he was fomenting sectarian conflict in the North. Of course loyalists terrorists were primarily responsible for that dreadful bloodletting.

      To say that not terminating his life was the biggest mistake in the history of relations between these Isles was an overstatement. You are right on that.

      Of course the Bloody Sunday of November 1920 was a ghastly event. Those people in Croke Park were murdered. It was a shameful act and the men who committed this crime were not punished. This wrongful aciton went a considerable distance to discrediting the Crown Forces as a whole.

      I do not concur with you regarding the Ulster Defence Regiment. The UDR was founded to replace the B Specials with something else. Nor do I think that the B Specials were as bad as you made out. Patently the B Specials did not command the affection of many in the Catholic community. It would be interesting for you to note that the B Specials were set up on the suggestion of your adored Michael Collins. Not enough Catholics came forward to join this force – that was partly Collins’s fault of course.

      The B Specials were associated with the loyal orders of which many Catholic people disapproved. On the whole the B Specials performed their duties well. They were very good at defeating the IRA – which is why republicans have been so eager to traduce them.
      The UDR killed 6 people in the Troubles – 6. My only complaint is that they did not kill half enough terrorists. Of course I detest loyalist terrorists just as much as republican terrorists.
      unfortunately a small number of UDR soldiers were involved with loyalist terrorist organisations. The Government tried to root this out but was not always successful.

    • _________________________________________
      Sir, I assure you I am very well read on the history of my native country. You should also read more books. I think you meant ”things that happened” and not ”thinks that happened.” Furthermore, you need to take more time over your use of apostrophes. You like to set me right so I return the compliment! ”Catholic’s” does not require an apostrophe since it is neither a case or elision nor possession.

      As for your substantive points – executing more men might have worked – wiping out the republican movement who brought so much misery to Ireland. I say might, I am not sure on this one. When republicans were dealt with very firmly in 1798 this meant that Ireland enjoyed peace for decades afterwards.

      By Manchester I am not sure whether you were alluding to the execution of three IRB criminals in 1868 or to the bomb that the IRA set off in this city with a large Irish community in 1996?

      I think we can all agree that the Omagh Bomb was an atrocity.

      The slaying of 8 heavily armed terrorists at Loughgall was a resounding victory for freedom. I only lament that it was not repeated ten fold and then this painful conflict could have been brought to a conclusion a lot sooner. I of course regret the accidental killing of a civilian who was assumed to be one of the IRA at that incident. This is totally the IRA’s fault for launching the attack but also more broadly for not observing the rules of civilised conflict and wearing uniforms to avoid the loss of innocent life.

      I think we are of one accord that the Enniskillen Bomb was a monstrous act. It reminds us that the IRA were in league with the Nazis out of genuine regard for the Nazi ideology.

      Yes, the actions of certain Paratroopers on 30 January 1972 were very wrong. To open fire might have been an excusable mistake. Of course the IRA were repsonsible for keeping conflict going in Derry at that time. People were on an illegal march 2 days after two RUC men were murdered. It was an extremely tense time. Those who did not want trouble had dispersed or better still not gone on the march in the first place. The Derry Young Hooligans had goaded the Army time and again. Yet, I still acknowledge that most of those killed were not terrorists and should not have been shot. Some Parachute Regiment soldiers fired after being ordered to stop. Yes, some of them should have been court martialled. I probably would have given some of them 10 years in prison.

      There was some wrongdoing by the Black and Tans as is in the nature of such conflicts. There are so many allegations to examine. I neither assume that all allegations are true or false. I think that were not so bad as they were painted by skilful republican propagandists. The burning of much of the centre of Cork was perhaps their most egregious wrong. By no means all Black and Tans were responsible for this. Those men who committed this crime ought to have been properly punished.

      I am no fan of Cromwell and his massacre at Drogheda was terrible though arguably par for the course at that time. Most people in Droigheda were English Protestants. You may not have been aware of that. As for the massacre at Wexford, yes Cromwell’s men committed a terrible crime that day. Although Old Ironsides did not order this atrocity he did not stop it nor did he penalise those who committed it. Again there is a case of mitigating circumstances owing to a misunderstood surrender but this only reduces the horrific wrongdoing a little.

      Of course I disapprove of the Penal Laws as being unfair. They were not strongly enforced – otherwise more people would have converted. I point out to you that this was Irish legislation. In fact it was mainly due to pressure from Great Britain that our Parliament abolished these unfair ordinances. Bear in mind that legal discrimination on the basis of religious denomination was the norm in virtually every country. Ireland was no the only land where the majority were discriminated against.

      Forced evictions is a tautology. Evictions are not voluntary otherwise they are not evictions. I do not like evictions ever though sometimes they are the right thing to do. Great Britain helped us in the Famine though not enough. I do not see how we would have got through the Famine better as an independent country. There was a famine in Great Britain at the same time though on a smaller scale the response of the government was no different.

  8. Sorry Loughall should have been Loughinisland (slight mix up) and by Manchester I meant the 90’s.

    “When republicans were dealt with very firmly in 1798 this meant that Ireland enjoyed peace for decades afterwards.” you seem to forget about the 1803 rebellion and the quiet period which followed was more down to the rising star of Daniel O’Connell than the royal hangman.

    “To open fire might have been an excusable mistake. Of course the IRA were repsonsible for keeping conflict going in Derry at that time. People were on an illegal march” A military force shooting dead unarmed civilians (kids mainly) is and should never be an excusable mistake. Surely the lack of civil rights was the only factor at the time as most historians believe that bloody Sunday marked the start of the “Troubles”. Regards the illegal march, if the unionist government of the time decides that Catholics should be treated as second class citizens and then decides to ban any protests, instead of dealing with the problem, we could have saved everyone an awful lot of murder and maiming. These islands would be in a better place if it was resolved 40 years ago instead of the attitude of sure we’ll just beat them into submission.
    “I probably would have given some of them 10 years in prison.” Is this all that the murder of a person is worth? Is this the sentence that you would want handed down if god forbid someone killed a loved one of yours? let alone If they were murdered by someone that was supposed to protecting them. And what about the fact that all the “Para’s” went before a judicial inquiry and lied, they let innocent peoples names be blackened for 40 years and no one has or probably ever will be prosecuted, just like those that covered up wrongful imprisonment of the Guildford four or the Birmingham Six. The cover up alone should be ten years in jail.

    As for the Black and Tans, I assure you its not just propaganda.

    I think you will find that the penal laws were introduced by James I, It may have been been backed by the Irish parliament but when that parliament was made up of mainly English Anglicans its hardly “Irish”. Daniel O’Connell’s movement was the main reason for the repeal for most of these laws.
    There isn’t many countries where the majority were persecuted and discriminated against and I’d suggest that those countries that were have since endured their own “Troubles”.

    Although you have conceded that your statement re: the execution of Michael Collins was overstated, I feel that you still don’t get my point. I don’t support the IRA but I do take issue with the way you view them so one sided. If England had not been so mistreating of the Irish, by treating them like second class citizens and trying to force them to renounce their religion, there probably wouldn’t have been an IRA, Michael Collins would just have been some post office clerk that no one ever heard of. I think this is the greater shame on history and not what started our debate.

    • Dear Joe,

      Thanks again for your scintillating comments.

      As for Loughinisland I could not agree with you more. I remember that night in 1994 sitting in my Republic of Ireland jersey watching Ray Houghton score in the 12 th minute against Italy. It was the world cup in the USA. The UVF chose that moment to attack a pub in Co Down. Five men were murdered because they were watching the match they were presumed to be Catholics. The murder of these five defenceless and unoffending was a horrific crime. The low down dirty scum of the UVF deserved life sentences for this dastardly and cowardly atrocity.

      Yes, the bombing of Manchester was terrible. Besides, the English are our cousins – often literally. We almost all have English descent. I was thinking about this the other night, recalling the surnames of my great grandparents, maiden names included. Of the 8 – 6 of them are Gaelic. One is English/Welsh. One of them is Norman. Like most Irishmen I am mostly Native Irish but I have a sprinkling of ancestry from that eastern isle.

      1803 was a street brawl. There was very little violence for decades. Compare it to the 20 000 plus people killed in a couple of months in the summer of 1798.

      Daniel O’Connell was a good man. I admire him. I am against his Repeal scheme but maybe if tried it would have worked well. We shall never know.

      If you read my other posts almost everything you mention will have been dealt with.

      There were civil rights in Northern Ireland at that time and before. I acknowledge that there was sectarian discrimination. This impacted more heavily on Catholics than Protestants. Everyone had the right to vote for Stormont and Westminster. The problem was the right to vote for local councils. This was changed in 1968. The IRA’s terrorism increased mistrust enormously and aggravated discrimination.

      NICRA’s demands either had been met or were in the process of being met in 1972. The B Specials had been disbanded. There was a points system for the allocation of council housing.

      As for the ”kids” shot dead on 30 January. I believe that three of them were 17 years old. No one was under that age. Some of the Paras would have been the same age. Your use of the word kid is presumably to try and give the impression of a real child – as in prepubescent to try and increase horror at this tragic event.

      Normally a life sentence is appropriate for murder. In this case I would take into account attenuating circumstances. He was on the street with a firearm lawfully – he was ordered to be there. There was confusion and they were severely provoked by weeks of attacks with bricks and bottles not to mention many members of the Security forces being killed up until that point. In spite of all this I of course realise that it was murder and men like him should have been punished as I have said. That is why I came up with a figure of 10 years incarceration.

      O’Neill’s reforms were overdue. Had such a reform package been introduced rather earlier than much grief could have been avoided. Of course there will always be some irreconcilables. Look at the situation today. Some are hooked on violence and are keen to drag us back to the conflict of the past.

      If one of my relatives was killed then I would be the worst person to determine the punishment handed down. I would be too emotional. Your rhetorical point is devoid of merit.

      I agree that not all accusations against the Black and Tans are bogus. The arson that they committed (well Auxies in the main) in Cork City is true. However, some accusations are exaggerated or taken out of context. Some must be false. It is often said that members of the Crown Forces shot dead Tomas MacCurtain but the jury is still out on that one. The official claim that he was killed as part of an IRA factional dispute is not as feeble as I once assumed.

      Anti-Catholic laws had been around since Henry VIII but were seldom enforced. This was largely deliberate. James I had Catholics even in the Parliament of England.

      The Irish Parliament at times, certainly after 1688, was made up only of Protestants. Ah, so Protestants do not count as Irish. This is very revealing. Nationalists often claim to be non-sectarian but sometimes the truth comes out. Yes, most Irish MPs had some English ancestry but that does not mean they are not Irish. In facty almost everyone in Ireland has some English blood. We can hardly be distinguished from the English. This notion of ethnic or cultural purity is a poisonous myth.

      You say there were not many lands where the majority were discriminated against and I beg to differ especially when one looks at the 18th century. One could look at Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Bosnia Herzogovina, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, India at that time. I could go on and on. Of course the situation for the majority in Ireland was milder than in the aforementioned countries.

      I want us to celebrate our English heritage and our links to England as we celebarte our connections to Scotland, America, Australia and Norway etc… The English, Welsh and Scots are the Irish Diaspora. When you think about it we are the English, Scots and Welsh Diaspora.

      I want a united British Archipelago. One happy family together forever. I have a dream.

      Collins was spared. He was not one jot grateful for the astonishing mercy he was shown. He showed little such mercy when unarmed men fell into his hands in all too many cases.

      Of course I am against discrimination on the grounds of religion. Yes, I heartily concur that such laws ought never to have been framed. In the 18th century or earlier it was rather wishful thinking to expect most people to embrace religious equality.

      All discriminatory laws were dumped by about 1829. Therefore you argument for Collins’ violence being in some way justified is specious.

      Loyalist terrorists were equally responsible for the Troubles.

      By O’Connell’s times we Catholics could not be MPs but we could be virtually everything else. The only thing we were barred from after that was being Viceroy. There was a Catholic Viceroy in the end – Lord FitzAlan Howard who was heir to the Duchy of Norfolk.



    • I too dislike Collins but for opposite reasons. He ought not to have helped to start this conflict in 1916. That conflict was bound to fanstastically increase sectarianism and poverty. I realise that loyalist terrorists are also responsible for much of the suffering. You are right – Collins agreed to Partition. Irish Governments down the years have repeatedly consented to partition and then reneged on these pledges. Republicans want partition too but in a different place. They want the border down the middle of the Irish Sea.


    • What you said is correct. Many of the Anti-Treaty side had been detained as well. The FRee State Army was chiefly composed of former British soldiers and youths who until 1922 had not been in an army. Many of them had been too young to be soldiers before that. My grandfather was amongst them. Most of the IRA joined the Anti Treaty side. I thinnk this is how it always was. Onlly a minority of people were ever republicans. Constitutional nationalists were the ones who made up the Pro Treaty majority == about 75% of people in the South according to the elections of 1922.

  11. listen to me you fool henry wilson was a great man the man that formed th B Specials the day after he was shot a armored div of A specials and Green Howards entered a small coastal towm in the north of the island called Ireland they put my uncle against a wall asked him if he shot WILSON they then proceeded to murder 2 more young men 3 men died that night for no other reason than they were catholic so fuck you and you so called knowledge read the following https://saoirse32.wordpress.com/2006/06/24/cover-up-of-1922-collusion/

    • Dear Nollaig,

      I am glad to have comments on my blog but I shall not thank you for yours. You ought to use punctuation. This would make your writing more lucid. Which town did the A Specials enter? Yes, I know that Sir Henry Wilson helped to establish the B Specials. I believe I stated that he was a security adviser to the Government of Northern Ireland. I know that the Royal Irish Constabulary were involved in many controversial incidents. They were fighting against the IRA and that necessarily meant shooting their enemies. However, there were occasions in which they killed civilians. Sometimes these were forgivable mistakes but on other occasions it seems that this was wilful murder. What was your uncle’s name? Was he in the IRA? It seems preposterous for anyone to think that someone could have shot dead Sir Henry and been in Ireland the next day. The two killers Dunne and O’Sullivan were arrested at the scene. Their plan was moronic. It was blatant that they would be apprehended. Which town were these people in when they were killed? I despise all sectarian killings. There was a lot of loyalist terrorism around that time. This was outrageous and it contributed to support for the IRA. I am no fool.

  12. …………” Why go to Great Britain if it is so foreign? GB is after all the Great Satan for Irish republicans. So GB cannot treat us so badly if so many of us live there. Nowhere else to go? There are dozens of other countries. Most emigrants went to Commonwealth countries or to the US not to mention mainland Europe.”
    use yer head.
    All that was necessary to get into GB was to get over to the North Wall,have the price of the ticket, and get on a ferry.
    Very easy.
    To enter the USA etc requires a legal process, back then for the USA a sponsor, higher costs to travel,fees and them more fee$ to remain.
    As Eire was not a welfare state at the time,most simply had to leave and were expected to leave and of course send support home.
    As late as the early ’70s, it was not uncommon to see NINA ,no oirish need apply from job sites to bedsits and now the UK accommodates islam.
    My how times have changed.

    • I am grateful for your remark. Entering the United States around 1910 was a mere formality for an Irishman. The quoted system discriminated in favour of us. Very few Irishmen were refused admission. There were many Irish and Catholic friendly societies eager to give a young immigrant a hand. I am not surprised that people chose to leave Ireland for economic reasons. There was a nascent welfare state in Ireland at the time because we were part of the United Kingdom and subsidised by our kith and kin in Great Britain. Old Age Pensions, sickness insurance and unemployment insurance started there long before the United States. I suspect that No Irish Need Apply in GB was a myth in the 70s and long before. I am an Irishman and no one I know ever saw such a sign. If there were any in the 70s or 60s or even 50s please show me hard evidence. Why would so many of us go there if we were discriminated against? It makes no sense at all. It is right that Muslims are permitted to settle in the UK. There have been Muslims there for 400 years. They are an essential part of British society. I detect a bat squeak of Islamophobia from you.

  13. Sorry…in the sixth paragraph I may have been unclear. All those needless deaths need not have happened if the ‘men’ of the troubles had half what Collins had.

    War is a messy business certainly. Mistakes happened, people went too far at times in Collins time, but Collins did try to organise the chaos as best he could. The troubles were more about tit for tat and creating chaos than doing what Collins did. It was a far more simplistic approach to how Collins tried to run his war. Unchained from a true leader such as in the latter stages of the civil war and during the troubles emotions run high, escalation happens and atrocities occur on both sides. Collins ran as tight a ship as he could and tried to avoid that. When DeValera allegedly spoke of having to deal with lesser men if Collins died that wasn’t just hyperbole. Unfortunately history has born that out and that runs right up to the present day when such lesser ‘men’ as Adams excuse every atrocity with “It was war”.

    It wasn’t war, it was murdering innocent civilians.

    And yes, I am aware Collins armed the north but with the civil war intensifying he had to change focus. How Collins planned to combat sectaranism in his long game is something he never saw come to fruition. It may have been his Alamo, it may have been his ultimate victory, I’m really not into speculation, but Ireland would most likely have been very different to the one we got.

    • Yes, it is true that war is a messy business and mistakes are unavoidable. One can seek to reduce the number of them. This was not a war but an armed conflict. Pearse said that mistakes would be made an innocent people would be slain but that this was not to other them. Because the IRA very seldom wore uniforms and sometimes did not carry guns openly then far more errors were committed. Collins did not have oversight of many operations outside of Dublin. Collins hugely inflamed sectarianism. In 1916 there were was not a single sectarian murder. There had not been any for decades. By 1919 dozens of people were being killed. He bears much responsibility. The IRA killed Protestant civilians as the UPA killed Catholics. Had there been no IRA campaign 1919-21 we would have had Home Rule. That might have metamorphosed into a republic. I doubt it. Yes, we would have had a different Ireland – a much better one. Partition may well have been avoided. Unionists would have been persuaded to unite under Home Rule once they perceived there was no plan for a republic.

      • I wrote a very long reply to your post from yesterday and its vanished with no response from you. My post before that has also vanished. Why am I wasting my time here? One cant debate like this.

        Violence breeds violence. Obviously with tensions running high sectaranianism would become more intense. It was a highly charged climate.

        How were more errors committed? 1916 was a tragicomedy of errors, much more so than the war of independence.

        Your right, Collins didn’t have much oversight over the rest of the country. Hardly surprising since flying columns were designed to operate relatively independently. Some people did use the violence to push their own agenda or even to engage in petty revenge against protestants but that wasn’t Collins motivation. Revolutions are chaotic and messy. War is messy. What Collins did was try to martial that chaos into something managable and effective. That he was ultimately killed doing this proves just how chaotic even the best laid plans are.

        The British bear much more responsibility than Collins or the Irish did. They were a foreign force occupying foreign soil after all.

        It was devolving into tit for tat killings but Collins tried to be more specific and tactical about his targets…nothing in his actions illustrates him to be engaging in sectarian violence.

        Its not certain we would have had home rule. The British were very good at making promises and then putting them on the long finger. Also what we ultimately got, a Free State, went beyond merely home rule The majority of the Irish people wanted a Republic, they wanted to be done with Britain once and for all. That’s why there was a war fought. I doubt many republicans at the time would have contented themselves with home rule just to appease a minority in the north of the country. Why should they? Majority rules. Your attitude sounds very antidemocratic.

        A Free State really was the best compromise between a Republic and what the British wanted. Its a tragedy of history that a civil war was fought basically over which end of the egg you crack open. War is maddening and the Irish people at the time were right in the thick of it. Not many had Collins vision. The treaty really was just a stepping stone.

        Why are my posts being cherry picked? This is a rigged game.

      • Dear Jim, Your message was so voluminous I chose not to reply to all of it. We ought to have remained within the United Kingdom. We were free and prosperous compared to most of the world. We were legally part of the UK. The Easter Rising was a terrible crime. Over a century later some people are still eager to reignite the conflict. The IRA had limited support 1919-21. It is true that a few members of the Crown Forces committed crime – even murder. This was not a reason to start the fight. Nor indeed was it a reason to partition Ireland from GB. It is true that republican were always dead against Home Rule. Home Rule might have worked and then republicans would have been distraught. It is ludicrous to suppose all Ireland’s problems are due to our connection without own kinsmen and friends in our eastern neighbour.

  14. If we were prosperous how do you explain mass immigration or the famine?

    And this legality involving the British Empire was foisted on us and enforced by whom?

    Yes, the Easter Rising was a terrible crime. How else would one explain the bombing of the city and the utter contempt for civilian lives? One of the reasons the rebels surrendered was because of the casualties mounting in the city. None of the rebels had expected the crown to bomb one of it’s capital cities. If only if it had of been like in the Michael Collins film..Crown forces targeting only a legitimate target. One has to turn to old newsreel footage to see the true cost of the British Empire flexing it’s muscles. After the failed Rising the rebels must’ve felt utterly miserable as they marched away surrounded by the anger of Dublin’s citizens. The Rising and subsequent executions did have the desired effect though. The Irish people had been reminded that they were under the British heel. Collins realised after this that open warfare was a pointless and wasteful exercise.

    The first crime is that the British invaded Ireland at all. The other crime is that the British Empire was willing to crush innocent people that it considered it’s subjects, just as an example to others who dared to be their own countries. Empires were becoming outdated. We were on the cusp of the atomic age…a world ruled by superpowers. The British Empire was fighting the inevitable. All that was needed was for a fledgling nation to learn a new kind of warfare. The twentieth century saw more progress than any other century in human history, this includes in warfare and nation building. The British Empire was trying to slice air. It just didn’t know it yet.

    So your saying that an oppressed nation shouldn’t try stand up to that oppression? If that had happened everywhere, since the age of enlightenment, we wouldn’t be now enjoying all the comforts that the modern iterations of countries give us. We also wouldn’t have how we interact and treat each other that much of the first world also enjoy. The majority of the world are now democrises. The problem with modern Britain and indeed with Trump is that they can’t see the inevitable march towards unity of nations. Their bucking against progress. It won’t work. Just like the British Empire behaving like it was the 19th century didn’t work in the early 1900’s. Ireland’s part of a larger European community. We live in the 21st century.I’m a man of few means but I’m always aware that I enjoy what my ancestors would consider a life of luxury because they fought oppression. You should be grateful too.

    Home rule wouldn’t have worked because Empires were dying out. Again you should be grateful for events like the American and French revolutions and the birth of Republicanism. All these kind of events all over the world led to better standards of living, more rapid progress, more cooperation between nations and a substantially accelerated evolution of culture, politics, humanity and on and on and on. You can’t see that though because you can only see your little part of the world. In a Republic one can express their identity, in an old fashioned colonial mindset such as yours one can only express ones isolationism. Remember whose patch of land your ancestors planted. Do you want to come as friends now and prosper or would you rather rot in the past? The truth is once Britain leaves the EU it’s possible in the years to come England will find itself on it’s own. Then it will have to change it’s mindset in the face of progress.

    For a college educated individual you sound like Britain’s answer to a holocaust denier. If the British Empire hadn’t behaved brutally it wouldn’t have been an Empire, if it hadn’t of continued to behave brutally it wouldn’t have remained an Empire for so long. That’s just the way it was. But times have changed. Move on.

    The United Kingdom is slowly and blindly turning itself into the British Empires dying gasp. If I were you I’d jump ship.

  15. Fantastic discussion, I am with Calers all the way. If Ireland stopped letting Americans fund their terrorists the mess would never have happened.

    • The Irish Government strove to prevent this in the 1970s. In Collins’ time there was no separate Irish Government. It is true that some ill-disposed persons in the USA funded conflict in the 19th century and early 20th century.

    • You have no clue what you are talking about, Cathal Brugha was a brave man but lacked any brain to lead anything, We have 26 counties we call the Republic of Ireland through the leadership and brain s of Collins. No other survivor of 1916 could lace his boots. The US had nothing to do with the Irish situation, and to say Collins missed Upton and Clonmult is not a sign on your side that you have any idea about this country. Collins was based in Dublin not Cork, Kerry or Tipperary. There was little or no radio communications during the Civil War, and the taking of the Capital from the Anti-Treaty position which forced the IRA back to the Guerrilla war style, only problem they had they had no leader who could compete with Collins, or if so name him for me. Liam Lynch, Tom Barry, Breen, Deasy, your joking they only leaders they had was Aiken and Kilroy. Good luck to your dislike changes nothing.

      • I know Collins was in Dublin 1919-21. He did not direct attacks as such. He guided the overall strategy.

        Barry was highly effectual. Breen was fairly good at what he did. I do not think Lynch or Deasy could be said to be particularly inspiring or wily.

        Brugha – call him by his proper named. Charles Burgess wanted to get killed. His wish was granted courtesy of Collins’ men.

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