After lying in State for three days, Michael Collins funeral was held in Dublin on 28th August, 1922. 500,000 people, almost one fifth of the population turned out to pay their respects. During the ceremony, which took place at Dublin's Pro Cathedral, tens of thousands of people approached Collins coffin, including many Irish and British high ranking officers. British soldiers who fought against Collins were said to have payed their respects too.
Despite his immense popularity, it was his home of County Cork where he lost his life. Collins believed his enemies wouldn't shoot him in his 'home'. He was wrong. His convoy was ambushed while passing through Béal na Bláth and rather than choosing to flee, Collins insisted he and his men fight. During the fracas, Collins was shot in the head. His last word’s were “Forgive them. Bury me in Glasnevin with the boys.”
Collins car had been wrecked in the ambush. His men decided to take his body back to Cork but were forced to carry him on their shoulders through muddy fields and farms because many of the roads were blocked. Collins men trudged 20kms before eventually reaching a small military hospital. Shortly afterwards, his body was transported back to Dublin.
Richard Mulcahy, a key figure in the War of Independence gave his graveside oration: “By his sacrifice, he has made himself a hero and a legend that that will stand in the pages of our history with any bright page ever written there.”
Michael’s adversary Winston Churchill wrote of him 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 without which the foundations of Irish nationhood would not have been re-established.”
On the last occasion the two men met (recounted in ‘The World Crisis' by Churchill) he quotes Collins as saying "I shall not last long; my life is forfeit, but I shall do my best. After I am gone it will be easier for others."
A poignant piece to remember an Irish hero.
Dimensions: 16” X 10” approx.