This Easter marked the 100th anniversary of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising. Michael Collins who was born in Clonakilty, Co. Cork on the 16th of October 1890 was a foot-soldier in this Rising and during the War of Independence (1919-1921) he became director of intelligence for the I.R.A., their primary objective being to weaken the British intelligence system through an effective network of Irish spies and armed agents.
Colins also played a role in the delegation that negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty of the 6th December 1921, this treaty established the 26 county Irish Free State. Upon signing the treaty Collins is quoted saying ‘I may have signed my actual death warrant’ to Lord Birkenhead. In January 1922, he became the Chairman of the Irish provisional government.
Following ratification of the Treaty, the Irish government split into pro and anti-Treaty camps. This lead to a vicious civil war (1922-23) followed with Collins acting as Commander-in-chief of the pro-Treaty army. The anti-Treaty movement was led by Éamon de Valera and The Civil War itself was even more violent than the War of Independence, pitting Irishmen against each other.
On the 22nd August 1922, Michael Collins was fatally wounded when ambushed at Béal na Bláth (Béal Átha na Bláiche). An estimated 300,000 mourners attended his funeral.