Big Fella is still elusive after all these years


There are 20 books about Michael Collins on my shelf. In last weekend’s Irish Times, Ronan McGreevy estimated that Collins was the subject of at least 65 biographies. Yet he remains elusive. He accomplished too much and died too young for us to understand. The speed of his rise, the breadth of his activities, and the covert and duplicitous nature of many of them; the first-hand hagiography of many portraits; The chaos and intensity of the time, and most importantly the fact that he didn’t survive to tell the story – all conspired to render Collins unrecognizable 100 years later.

That remains the case despite the uncovering of five of Collins’ journals, which were loaned to the National Archives last November and are the subject of historians Anne Dolan and William Murphy’s new book. Days in Life: Reading the Michael Collins Diaries, 1918–1922. They served as appointment and memoir books, not confessionals or memoirs, and the entries are terse and often cryptic. Big Fella is still elusive after all these years

Fry Electronics Team

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