It was in County Cork, Ireland, 1890 when 75 year old “Michael Collins” watched his wife bring into the world his 8th child, “Michael Collins junior.” “Michael” was the youngest of 8 siblings and in the short 6 years “Michael” new his father he and his siblings were strongly influenced and encouraged by him to become involved in poetry, reading, and other curriculum activities. As Michael grew older he became increasingly involved in sports and particularly enjoyed wrestling, Michael’s involvement in wrestling brought out his best and strongest quality, his fighting character which he uses throughout his life. After the loss of his father at the age of just six, “Michael” became interested in the Irish nationalist movement and his teacher “Denis Lyons” a member of the Irish Republican Brothers (IRB) became a immediate inspirational figure to look up to. Along with other role models and Michael’s keen interest for reading, at just 11 he was subscribed to the “The United Irishman” a nationalist magazine edited by “Arthur Griffith” who later went on to became the founder of Sinn Fein, a nationalist party that still exists to this day.
In July 1906, at the age of 15, Michael Collins immigrated to London; he did not take long to become involved in a strong Irish community in London and also became involved in the Gaelic Athletic Association. He easily found work in London moving from job to job, and when he was 18, before moving back to Ireland he found himself involved in a group called the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). Back in Ireland and away from work Collins started writing about Irish history and current political events and this was about the time the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) introduced “The Home Rule Bill”, before the House of Commons in April 1912. With the proposal of the Home Rule Bill, the Ulster Unionists feared that the Protestant culture would lose out to the Catholic nationalist majority. In fear of this Sir Edward Carson, organized the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and threatened to set up a provisional government in Belfast if Home Rule was to be introduced. Seeing the threat, nationalists in Dublin responded by forming the Irish Volunteers with the help of the IRB. Despite this persistent feuding the outbreak of the First World War, the UVF and the Irish Volunteers came together to protect Ireland from invasion.
On Easter day April 24th 1916, approximately 2000 Volunteers succeeded in taking over several main buildings in the Dublin in a attempt to proclaim the Independence of Ireland. It was named the Easter Rising and for 5 days the Irish Volunteers seized and barricaded themselves in the main buildings of Dublin. Bitter Street fighting developed in Dublin and on the 5th day of the Easter rising several buildings came under attack by the British forces and the Irish Volunteers were forced to surrender. Fifteen leaders of the uprising were executed, and the surviving volunteers including Michael Collins were sentenced to British jails. Later that year the British Government released the volunteers and Michael returned to Ireland and quickly found work as a secretary of the Irish National Aid and Volunteer Dependants Fund.
Michael became involved in Sinn Fein a nationalist political party and Collins was responsible for “Eamon de Valera” being elected for president of the political party. He also he recruited spy’s to spy on British intelligence in Ireland, which later proved to be a invaluable source of information for Collins. Early in 1918 Collins was arrested for making a speech against conscription in Legga, and was jailed but he applied for bail and once granted bail he went on the run. Sinn Fein had now aimed to achieve “international recognition of Ireland as an independent Irish Republic” and had declared War of Independence.
In 1920 Collins was left in control of the guerrilla warfare strategy, which was proving enormously successful and the Irish Volunteers became known as the IRA (Irish Republican Army). With the help of his right hand man, Joe O’Reilly and his spies who were consistently informing Collins of developments within the British forces, Collins developed a squad, for the purpose of executing British agents. Collins become the most wanted man in Ireland, with a price of 10,000 on his head. Collins received a tip off of the movements of agents named the Black and Tans. On Sunday 21 November 1920, the IRA squad acted quickly executing many of these soldiers and that very afternoon British soldiers stormed a Gaelic football match shooting dead 14 people.
On 6th December 1921, Collins signed a peace agreement and after signing the agreement he turned to “Lord Birkenhead,” and said “I have signed my death warrant.” De Valera decided to reject the Treaty and a civil war broke out. Many of Collins close associates were now dead and Collins was distraught. On August 22, Michael Collins was on a tour of inspection in the Cork area when he was ambushed and killed with a single gun shot wound to the head. Thousands of people lined the streets of Dublin for the funeral of Michael Collins in a display of public grief and more recently, a movie was written about Michael Collins.