Michael Collins

Michael Collins was born in County Cork on 16th October 1890. 

At the age of fifteen Collins moved to London where he lived for nine years. In London Collins worked for the Post Office and joined the Gaeilic Athletic Association where he developed into a fine athlete. 

It was also in London that Collins became involved in Irish nationalist politics. By 1908 Collins was a member of Sinn Féin. A year later he was sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) by his fellow post office worker Sam Maguire, and went on to become treasurer of the IRB for London and South England.

On April 25th 1914, Collins cousin Sean Hurley enrolled him into the No. 1 company of the London Volunteers. 

Collins returned to Dublin on 15th January 1916 and participated in the Easter Rising. Following the failed rising Collins was arrested and later sent to Wales to be imprisoned at the Frongoch prison camp. It was here that Collins emerged as a leader in the republican movement. 

Following the closure of Frongoch prison camp Collins returned to Ireland in December 1916. 



In the 1918 general election Collins won his seat in South Cork. Succeeding the general election, Collins was appointed minister of Home Affairs and later Minister of Finance. In this role he organised the hugely successful Dáil loan which financed the republican government.

Collins is best known for his leadership of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and role as Director of Intelligence throughout the campaign against Britain during the Irish War of Independence. 

Collins also directed a group known as ‘the squad’ who were tasked with assassinating high profile British targets. This campaign culminated on 21 November 1920 with an event known as Bloody Sunday. 

When a truce was agreed with Britain in July 1921, Collins and Eamon de Valera were the two most powerful men in republican Ireland. After de Valera had led initial talks in London, Collins led the Irish delegation which resulted in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921. 

The treaty brought the Irish Free State into existence and consolidated the partition of the island, with six predominantly Unionist counties in the north remaining outside the Free State. The Treaty was passed by the cabinet in Dublin by one vote - to which de Valera opposed, and was accepted by the Dáil by a small majority. Collins became chairman and finance minister of the provisional government established under the treaty.

michael collins’ grave at glasnevin cemetry

michael collins’ grave at glasnevin cemetry

The republican movement split into those who opposed and those who supported the treaty. During the civil war in Ireland between 1922-23, Collins took charge as commander-in-chief of the pro-treaty army.

On August 22nd 1922 Collins was assassinated by anti-treaty forces in an ambush in County Cork.