Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pilgrimage 1; Michael Collins

Since my first visit to Ireland in the autumn of 2011 I have become a zealous student of irish history.  Michael Collins was an important irish nationalist leader.  A signatory to the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty Collins subsequently found himself leader of the pro-treaty faction of nationalists in opposition to DeValera's anti-treaty faction.  In 1922 Collins was ambushed and shot by anti-treaty supporters.  This post is a record of my pilgrimages to Collins' birthplace, his home for one of his teenage years in Clonakilty and to the memorial to his death in a gun battle after being ambushed.
Michael Collins birthplace, Woodfield, near Clonakilty.
View from Collins' birthplace dwellings over the remains of the fine house built by his father and destroyed during the civil war of 1922.
The house in Clonakilty in which, from 1904 until 1905 Michael Collins lived with his sister Margaret.
Memorial to the fatal ambush of Michael Collins.
The roadside memorial purports to mark the site of the killing, by pro-treaty forces, of Michael Collins.

The Michael Collins website (, however, has this to say concerning the monument: "The Collins monument stands on the right-hand side of the road from Newcestown to Beal-na-mBlath. It was erected in 1924 on two roods of land purchased by the Irish National Army. Why it was erected on that particular position is a mystery since it does not mark the spot nor even the side of the road where he died. Perhaps the engineers siting the monument decided that it would be unwise to erect it close to the stream on the left hand side and choose a site which allowed adequate space for military honours to be rendered to the First Commander-in-Chief.

The author's memory of the place in the early 1930's is of a narrow twisted road with a continuous strip of grass in the centre and a mud bank on the left-hand side close to the stream (the little river Noneen). There was very little tree or scrub growth. Since then, the Cork County Council have widened and surfaced the road. In the process they have removed the mud bank in places but, more importantly the curve in the road for a length of over 200 yards has been removed. It is important to remember that the road and road fence were differently aligned in 1922 when the Collins convoy passed that way."

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