My friend Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia has a superb tribute to Michael Collins, on the anniversary of his death, the most talented soldier and statesman of Ireland of the last century. Go here to read it.
Prior posts on Michael Collins:
Something for the weekend. The Clancy Brothers pay tribute to the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin which, although completely unsuccessful, started a chain of events which led to Irish independence, the dream of Irish men and women for centuries. The songs featured are Legion of the Rearguard, the Foggy Dew and God Bless England. Ironically, Legion of the Rearguard has nothing to do with the battle for Irish independence. It was written during the Irish Civil War which was fought in 1922-23. The title of the song is from Eamon de Valera, who led the rebels and who, ironically, would end up leading independent Ireland for most of the rest of the Twentieth Century, and who admitted defeat in the Irish Civil War with his usual purple prose:
Soldiers of the Republic! Legion of the Rearguard! The Republic can no longer be defended successfully by your arms. Further sacrifice of life would be in vain, and continuance of the struggle in arms unwise in the National interest. Military victory must be allowed to rest for the moment with those who have destroyed the Republic.
De Valera of course was referring in his phrase to “those who have destroyed the Republic” to men like Michael Collins, who was killed in the Civil War, who were responsible for the creation of an independent Ireland. De Valera, at the end of the Irish fight for independence, realizing that the only terms that the British would grant which would lead to an independent Ireland would be unacceptable to many hard core Irish Republicans, refused to engage in the negotiations with the British himself, sending Collins instead, over the protests of Collins. When Collins came back with the best treaty terms possible that would be granted by the British, de Valera denounced him and the treaty and the Irish Civil War was the result. De Valera therefore got the benefit of the treaty terms, an Irish Free State, while still able to pose as an uncompromising champion of complete independence, something which benefited him politically to no end, for over half a century after Collins died in the Civil War de Valera started after he rejected the treaty. Very shrewd of de Valera. The morality I will leave for the reader to judge. Read the rest of this entry »
Something for the weekend. Michael Collins sung by the Wolfe Tones. Collins was the most talented Irish statesman and soldier of the last century. He was also a man of exceptional courage as he demonstrated when he signed the Anglo-Irish treaty, realizing that this was the best deal that could be gotten from the British. “I have signed my own death warrant” was his prophetic utterance when he signed the treaty. Collins was killed in the subsequent utterly futile Irish civil war that errupted and died at 31 on August 22, 1922, proving once again that the worst enemy of the Irish often tend to be the Irish.
In the negotiations with the British Michael Collins and Winston Churchill became acquainted and found, probably to their mutual surprise, that they respected each other.
Just before his death Collins sent this message, “Tell Winston we could never have done it without him.”
In 1929 Churchill wrote of Collins, “Successor to a sinister inheritance, reared among fierce conditions and moving through ferocious times, he supplied those qualities of action and personality without which the foundation of Irish nationhood would not have been re-established.” Read the rest of this entry »