Countries, Ireland

Collins’ Hundred Year War

Beal Blath (or Green land) may not strike you as a bloody field but it is here in West Cork where we pick up the story of Michael Collins’ Hundred Year War.

It is little exaggeration to say that without Michael Collins the Republic of Ireland as we know it today would not exist.

And that’s why today thousands are gathering at Beal Blath to mark the 100th anniversary of the assassination of the leader of the Irish Free State.

The memorial: Where Michael Collins was assassinated

Collins was, and continues to be, a divisive figure in Irish history.

Either the genius commander of the Irish guerrilla force that brought the British Empire to the table.

Or the traitor who surrendered six counties of the island to the UK.

Collins’ legacy

Give ’em hell: Michael Collins

Collins’ legacy is, of course, two Irelands on the one island… or is it that there is even one at all which is not under British rule.

While there’s a split too there with the two parties who have ruled the Republic dividing along Civil War lines.

Under Collins’ party Fine Gael and his one-time captain and future Taoiseach Eamon De Valera’s Fianna Fáil.

But it is much more, and whichever side you come down on, it is worth probing Collins and the story of the Republic for yourself.

The story of the Republic

Just the job: The Italian Job

The best starting point is a post office… the GPO in Dublin where they still sort your mail and give you a history lesson.

And it was here that Padraig Pearse declared Ireland a republic in Easter 1916 and was executed for his troubles.

At Kilmainham Gaol along with the other leaders of the Rising.

And most dramatically the Scottish communist James Connolly who was shot strapped to a chair in the exercise yard.

Because his leg was gangrenous after he was shot during the Rising.

It’s an eerie but dramatic experience which is probably why it was chosen for scenes in the Italian Job and In The Name Of The Father.

Ireland of Hop-on glory

Best bar none: Liam Neeson in Michael Collins

Easter 1916 and the Irish Civil War feature heavily on your DoDublin Bus tour.

Where you will visit Collins Barracks the high point of the Big Fella’s career.

When the British officially handed back power to the Irish of Ireland.

You’ll remember it from the titular film with Liam Neeson memorably cast as Collins.

And the dialogue played out just as it had done that day but sans Collins’ expletives.

British officer: ‘You’re seven minutes late Mr Collins.‘

Collins: ‘You’ve kept us waiting 700 years. You can have your seven minutes.’

Only the rivers run free

Ambush: From the Michael Collins House

Seven hundred years then… Britain’s fascination with their noisy neighbours.

For noisy, of course, read craic with the Irish never having invaded the folks next door.

Unless it is with booze and a sing-song.

All of which leaves us with unfinished business as we reflect today on Michael Collins’ Hundred Year War.

 

 

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