Michael Collins gave his life to forge our freedom


Nation-building is a challenging but never exact science.

he we live in one of the oldest democracies in the world today is not least thanks to the work of Michael Collins, who was murdered 100 years ago today at the age of just 31.

Between 1917 and 1922, for better or for worse, the template for modern Ireland was set.

If Arthur Griffith was his architect, Collins was the contractor who carried on his often chaotic and sometimes explosive construction.

He has been the subject of dozens of biographies. His memory is deified. His legend is that of the nationally anointed patron saint of What Might Have Been. The first links in the chain of Irish independence were forged in the furnace of nationalism and republicanism.

Today it is unimaginative to think that the final catch in uniting all our people can be soldered with consent and understanding.

That such a reconciliation is achievable is shown by the fact that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have both joined at Béal na Bláth to honor one of the fathers of our state.

The assassination of Collins was the country’s JFK moment before there was ever a JFK moment.

Even the British Navy sounded The last post when his body was carried on a journey through what was then Queenstown (Cobh) on his final journey.

The rebellion had shown him that Ireland would never win her freedom through all-out war with Britain.

If independence were the holy grail, he was unwilling to entrust it to the benevolence of the British Empire and allow it to collect cobwebs under Whitehall’s catacombs.

A ruthless pragmatist, he led a devastating intelligence-led guerrilla operation to root out the spies that had plagued so many other campaigns. He had come under the influence of Arthur Griffith at a young age.

He recognized the enormous consequences of signing the treaty.

Initialing it, he knew, would make it his own death sentence.

It wouldn’t run anywhere now. Even when he was on the Most Wanted List, he was also Chief of Intelligence, Minister of Finance and Head of the IRB during the Revolutionary War.

He saw the treaty as part of an installment plan for Liberty, North and South.

But he was damned by Éamon de Valera for going too far, and in the North for not going far enough.

At his death, George Bernard Shaw wrote to his beloved sister Hannie, urging her not to mourn: “My dear Miss Collins, do not let this make you unhappy… what better way could a born soldier die than the victor at the end of a good fight?”. .. Tear up your sorrow, then, and hang up your brightest colors in his honor…”

Like Griffith, Collins gave his life for an ideal he believed to be greater than himself.

If the former was shamefully quiet and almost forgotten, Collins has fared better. Both deserve real historical distinction. Michael Collins gave his life to forge our freedom

Fry Electronics Team

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