Unforgettable Michael Collins

Saturday, March 15, AD 2014

Something for the weekend. Michael Collins. A song in tribute to Michael Collins, the father of Irish independence, whose life and death symbolized the glory and tragedy of Ireland.

Collins was the most talented Irish statesman and soldier of the last century.  He was also a man of exceptional courage as he demonstrated when he signed the Anglo-Irish treaty, realizing that this was the best deal that could be gotten from the British.  “I have signed my own death warrant” was his prophetic utterance  when he signed the treaty.  Collins was killed in the subsequent utterly futile Irish civil war that erupted, dying at 31 on August 22, 1922, proving once again that the worst enemy of the Irish often tend to be the Irish.

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7 Responses to Unforgettable Michael Collins

  • There are many who boycott products made in England to this day.

  • My family-the Spooners were driven out of their homes by the English .They were slightly better than Nazis.I’ll forgive but NEVER forget.Bloody Orangemen,as my Mother and her sisters used to say-they meant ALL English..

  • [T]he worst enemy of the Irish often tend to be the Irish.
    –Donald R. McClarey

    Showing once again that if one wants something done right, one must do it oneself.

  • A true hero! God bless him! Rest in peace, Miceál!

  • Gorden, just remember that not ALL English are bad, some of them are even Catholics

  • Then let them leave Northern Ireland and resettle those Scots that they imported just like the USSR did with Crimea.

    The English are ALL complicit until an apology is proferred.They were imperialists just like the Nazis.Catholicism has NOTHING to do with it -look at Croation war crimes.

    According to the English historian Sir William Petty, before the war there was an estimated 1.5 million Gaelic Irish. After the war there was an estimated .5 million.

    We know that through the Irish slave trade Cromwell sold about 60,000 Irish into slavery in Barbados and Virginia, so the balance would have been either killed in battle or through the starvation and later diseases that set in because of the forced migration of the Irish into Connaught.

    Most modern authors consider this an early form of ethnic cleansing. To this day there are anti-Catholic laws on the books in the U.K. and there Cromwell is looked upon as a hero for betraying and murdering his Catholic King.

  • “The English are ALL complicit until an apology is proferred.”

    Oh give it a break. There are virtually no English alive from the time when they controlled all of Ireland. An apology now would be empty and meaningless. The English, for all the misdeeds of some English in Ireland, were never Nazis, but your proposal to have the English remove Northern Irish, most of whom have families that have lived in Ireland since the seventeenth century, would be a Nazi like act. I have a deep love of history, but being consumed with hate because of it is a poor way to go through life and is completely antithetical to the Gospel.

3 Responses to In Memoriam: Michael Collins

  • I embraced my German roots since the reunification.

    In believe Dev was safely ensconced in Brooklyn while the great man freed his native land.

    The civil war was nominally about the pledge, the republic and the north – none of which then were remotely possible. It probably was a power struggle. Dev never even tried to get unification. He kept Ireland neutered in WWII, though.

    I think Dev and his midget cliche could not rule while the great man lived.

    “Why do we live like this? The violence and the hatred . . . “

  • Collins did not ‘free his native land’, as he himself admitted (advocating the treaty as a ‘stepping stone’).

    Before anyone feels the need to comment on De Valera, they absolutely must first read Judging Dev by Professor Diarmaid Ferriter of UCD. Ferriter’s biography is the most up to date, having had access to previously unreleased archival material. He has changed radically the way historians view DeValera and refutes pevailing myths from the 1980’s.

The Easter Rising 1916

Saturday, April 10, AD 2010

Something for the weekend.  The Clancy Brothers pay tribute to the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin which, although completely unsuccessful, started a chain of events which led to Irish independence, the dream of Irish men and women for centuries.  The songs featured are Legion of the Rearguard, the Foggy Dew and God Bless England.  Ironically, Legion of the Rearguard has nothing to do with the battle for Irish independence.  It was written during the Irish Civil War which was fought in 1922-23.  The title of the song is from  Eamon de Valera, who led the rebels and who, ironically, would end up leading independent Ireland for most of the rest of the Twentieth Century, and who admitted defeat in the Irish Civil War with his usual purple prose:   

Soldiers of the Republic! Legion of the Rearguard! The Republic can no longer be defended successfully by your arms. Further sacrifice of life would be in vain, and continuance of the struggle in arms unwise in the National interest. Military victory must be allowed to rest for the moment with those who have destroyed the Republic.

De Valera of course was referring in his phrase to “those who have destroyed the Republic” to men like Michael Collins, who was killed in the Civil War, who were responsible for the creation of an independent Ireland.  De Valera, at the end of the Irish fight for independence, realizing that the only terms that the British would grant which would lead to an independent Ireland would be unacceptable to many hard core Irish Republicans, refused to engage in the negotiations with the British himself, sending Collins instead, over the protests of Collins.  When Collins came back with the best treaty terms possible that would be granted by the British, de Valera denounced him and the treaty and the Irish Civil War was the result.  De Valera therefore got the benefit of the treaty terms, an Irish Free State, while still able to pose as an uncompromising champion of complete independence, something which benefited him politically to no end, for over half a century after Collins died in the Civil War de Valera started after he rejected the treaty.  Very shrewd of de Valera.  The morality I will leave for the reader to judge.

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13 Responses to The Easter Rising 1916

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  • The Irish didn’t cover themselves with glory in the Second World War. Unlike the Swiss they were seperated from the Germans by a large body of water, they could have pushed the boundary a lot more without the Nazis being provoked into action. Much of the Irish behaviour can be reduced to indifference. Of course being Irish they had to cover their actions with a swarm of empty words.

  • Well Ivan, 70,000 citizens of the Republic of Ireland volunteered to serve in the British armed forces during World War II, which, considering the size of Ireland, was not an insignificant contribution. Additionally, calling to mind the “great kindness” which Great Britain has shown to the Irish over the centuries, it can be considered a tribute to the Irish that any of them were willing to fight on the same side as Great Britain at all.

  • Donald, 70,000 is a huge proportion of a small population like Ireland’s. I take back my stupid remarks.

  • No sweat Ivan. A lot of us over here still recall the debt of gratitude the entire world owes the UK, and the British Empire and Dominions, for standing alone against Hitler for a year.

  • Irish Independence is rooted in neutrality. De Valera said that small states which enter major wars risk their existence without the possibility of gaining influence on either the course of the war or the ensuing peace.

    When the 1916 Rising and developments it inspired led to the democratic assertion of Irish Independence in the 1918 Election, and Britain continued to rule Ireland by force, and the Irish resisted by force, Whitehall determined to destroy the Irish democracy to preserve its own strategic interests. Britain offered a measure of self-government under the authority of the Crown, and threatened unrestrained warfare on the democractically elected government if they refused the offer, and manipulated those who accepted the offer into making war on those who rejected it. The Army who fought the British to the negotating table were crushed with weaponary supplied from London.

    Michael Collins recognized that his acceptance of the Treaty was made under duress (which as a plenipotentiary he had no authority to do), which is why he showed no scruple in ordering the killing of Sir Henry Wilson, heavily arming the Belfast IRA (while scrupulously ensuring the weapons could not be identified as British), and infilitrating the RUC and B-specials with IRA spies after the Craig-Collins Pact. He wanted to use the machinery of the southern Irish state to destroy the northern state, which is something no southern government has since attempted. A very cunning man.

    Although their anguish and fury at the plight of northern Catholics led Collins and Mulcahy to continue supplying them with arms (albeit secretly and indirectly through the IRA) the process already described whereby they became locked ever more tightly into the treaty in the early summer of 1922 rendered enterprises jeopardising the treaty settlement increasingly foolhardy. It has been well said that ‘the Republicans had nothing to lose by attacking the North, the Free Staters everything’ and we have seen how the IRA forces in the Four Courts decided to attack the north in a last gamble to overthrow the treaty in the days before civil war began. Until then active non-cooperation remained Collins’s order of the day” (J. M. Curran, “The Birth Of The Irish Free State 1921-23”, p179).

  • I doubt if Collins was involved in the assassination of Sir Henry Wilson, for the reasons set forth in the article linked below.


  • “It is my considered opinion that in the fullness of time, history will record the greatness of Michael Collins, and it will be recorded at my expense.”

    ~ Eamon de Valera

    Don, I won’t be as reticent about passing judgment on de Valera, but I’ll allow the words of our friend Dale Price to suffice for my own:


    “Eamonn de Valera was a grade-A certified sack of what I know from shinola… morally withered descendent of Armada boat trash.”

    Yep, that about covers it.

  • That chapter is from a controversial book The IRA and Its Enemies authored by the customary sensationalist Peter Hart. It has been heavily criticized by Cork history expert Owen Sheridan in its methodology [..the reviewer here is head of History Dept, Limerick University]

    and by Niall Meehan at Griffith College and Benedictine monk Brian Murphy :

  • I’d like to hear some application of “just war” theology to the Easter Rising. The IRB and their allies had no chance of success, and they knew it. Besides the loss of life, they created heavy damage to central Dublin, and caused serious hunger among the spouses and widows of Irish solidiers, who were living hand to mouth in Dublin at the time. Home Rule was already the law, the implementation of which was postponed due to the start of the Great War immediately after its passage. The Rising only served as an excuse, after the War, to go backwards, since “the Irish” had now stabbed their country (as the Brits saw it) in the back, with the help of the Germans.

    The Civil War was clearly an unjust war, since the anti-treaty side had lost, overwhelmingly, the referendum on approval of the treaty with Britain.

    Dev’s character was clearly manifested by his opportunistic split with the IRA, to enter the Dail as the leader of Fianna Fail, swearing allegiance to the British King. When challenged about how he could have done that, he explained that when he did so “my hand never actually touched the Bible.”

    Politicians. No matter the country or the party, you can not trust them.

  • “Home Rule was already the law, the implementation of which was postponed due to the start of the Great War immediately after its passage.”

    Actually the implementation of Home Rule caused a threatened rebellion by Protestants just before the outbreak of WWI. Segments of the Royal Army had agreed to mutiny if the British government used troops against the Protestants in Belfast. I can’t blame Irish nationalists for being skeptical as to whether Home Rule would be implemented after the War.

    “The Rising only served as an excuse, after the War, to go backwards, since “the Irish” had now stabbed their country (as the Brits saw it) in the back, with the help of the Germans.”

    The Brits already had plenty of reason to go backwards since the Protestants in Belfast had indicated prior to World War I that they would rather fight than submit to Home Rule. The huge overreaction by the British to the Easter rising played completely into the hands of the Irish Republicans.

    “The IRB and their allies had no chance of success, and they knew it.”

    Yep, it was doomed from the first. I can think of few military adventures that were less likely to succeed. It was crushed with relative ease by the British. Yet, it set in motion events which led to independence for most of Ireland. When it comes to predicting the future from what we know today, the 1916 uprising and its aftermath teaches us all humility on that score.

    “The Civil War was clearly an unjust war, since the anti-treaty side had lost, overwhelmingly, the referendum on approval of the treaty with Britain.”

    Unjust and completely futile.

    “Politicians. No matter the country or the party, you can not trust them.”

    Certainly I would agree as to the vast majority of them.

  • “The Rising only served as an excuse, after the War, to go backwards, since “the Irish” had now stabbed their country (as the Brits saw it) in the back, with the help of the Germans.”

    The 1916 Rising took place in the context of the British Government having rewarded those who had openly, ostentatiously, and remorselessly committed treason (the Ulster Unionists) by putting them in government. Formerly, in 1912, Home Rule had the backing of the vast majority of people in Ireland, including many of the 1916 rebels such as Patrick Pearse, who actually then supported the Home Rule Bill. Ulster Unionists, backed by the British Conservative Party and the Liberal Unionists threatened the Liberal Governemnt with civil war. (Fenianism by 1912 as a military force was all but dead). Andrew Bonar Law showed his utter contempt for the democratic process when he declared that: “Unionsits would be justified in resisting by all means in their power including force” and that he could “imagine no lenth of resistance to which Ulster will go in which I will not be reasy to support them”. This changed the scenario completely. The government’s backing away from the Parliamentary procedure to establish Home Rule when the Unionists threatened it with civil war allowed Republicans to demand equal treatment. If Britain was stabbed in the back (she wasn’t) it was entirely her own fault.

    RE: “the loss of life”

    The handful of people killed in the Easter Rising immediately resulted in an instant collapse in recruitment for the mass killing in the futile trench war in France – a war which had been marketed in Ireland as being undertaken for the “freedom of small nations”, a rationale now exposed as a lie. Overall the Rising saved incalculable thousands of lives.

    Patrick esteems the 1922 Election as democratic but does not refer to the 1918 election when Sinn Fein won an overwhelming electoral mandate for complete seperation. Britain’s response to that decision was to threaten the country with a brutal conquest. The 1922 Election was held under the threat that the British Empire would undertake massive force to subdue Ireland if she voted the wrong way. An election held on those terms is hardly democratic and would not be recognized as so today.

    DeValera was not being ‘opportunistic’ by taking the oath, he was being pragmatic. There was no other way to take his seat, and Fine Gael had threatened his party with proscription if he failed to do so. De Valera had widely consulted theologians and ethicists before doing so. The Bishop of Galway, Michael Browne, advised him that his course of action was perfectly permissible so long as he made it clear before hand that he was merely repeating a prescribed formula and was not actually giving it internal assent. And that was precisely what he did.

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