Today in Irish History: 1922
Michael Collins is killed in an ambush by Anti-Treaty forces in Co. Cork. He was thirty one years old.
This is the last known photograph of Collins alive and was taken as he made his way through Bandon, Cork. The photo was taken outside Lee's Hotel (now Munster Arms), he is in the back left of the car.
On the road to Bandon, Collins's column stopped to ask directions. The man they asked, Dinny Long, was also a member of the local Anti-Treaty IRA. When Collins and his men arrived to Béal na Bláth five ambushers opened fire on the Collins convoy.
Collins was killed in the subsequent gun battle, which lasted about 20 minutes, from 8:00 p.m. to 8:20 p.m. He was the only fatality. Under the cover of the armoured car, Collins's body was loaded into the touring car and driven back to Cork.
They ended up in Cloughduv at the parish house. Here the priest Fr. Timothy Murphy was brought to the car and according to his own report upon seeing how distraught the men were he turned to fetch his oils. Some of the men thought he was refusing to administer last rites to Michael and one soldier, (Sean O'Connell) discharged a shot at Murphy but the gun was struck by Emmet Dalton and the shot missed. Collins received last rites at the Sacred Heart Mission Church at Victoria Cross.
His adversary Winston Churchill wrote of Collins in later years, “Michael Collins was a man of dauntless courage. He was an Irish patriot, true and fearless......We hunted him for his life, and he slipped half a dozen times through steel claws, fierce conditions and moving through ferocious times, he supplied those qualities of action and personality with out which the foundations of Irish nationhood would not have been re established."