On the16th October 1890 Michael Collins was born in West Cork near Sam's Cross, named after Sam Wallace, a local highwayman. Michael was born to father Michael Senior and mother Marianne O'Brien. Even though there was a 52-year age difference it did not stop them from making Michael the youngest of 8 children. Collins' father, Michael Senior, said on his deathbed "Mind that child", pointing to his six-year-old son. "He'll be a great man yet, he'll do great things for Ireland." His elderly father's words were to be thought of as a hollow prophecy, but there was still much modeling and learning for the young Collins to go through before he would emerge as a central figure in the uprising of Irish independence for the first time in 750 years. Two figures were very influential to Collins growing up was local schoolmaster, Denis Lyons, and blacksmith, James Santry. Both instilled an acute sense of history and nationalism in the bright and lively young boy. As a child, Collins was fiercely competitive and was enraged at defeat in any form. At school he excelled and at the age of 15 passed the Boy Clerkship for the British Post Office. So he packed his things and moved. Collins lived with another Post Office employee, which happened to be his sister Hannie, in West Kensington. Collins through his sister, mixed with London society fitting in well. Although he was known to Address face to face anyone making a derogatory remark about Ireland. Joining the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) - a group that promoted Irish culture and language - and the Gaelic Athletic League (GAL) where he played football and hurling furthered his nationalism. What he lacked in skill in these games, he more than made up for with his natural aggression and willingness to win.
It was in November 1909 when nationalism really began to be favored when being sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) at Barnsbury Hall. At the age of 19 Collins had little time for the Irish Parliamentary Party. He did admire, however, Arthur Griffith and his political party that Sinn Fein, founded in 1905. By 1910, Collins had begun work in a stock broking firm, Horne and Co, and picked up bookkeeping skills, which were to prove useless later on in life as he collected a national loan for the Republican movement. By mid-1914, Collins had enrolled as an Irish Volunteer - a poorly armed force formed to counter the formation of the Ulster Volunteers - in the No. 1 Company in King's Cross. Early in 1916 he received word that there was to be a Rising in Ireland. Collins informed his employers that he was leaving to join his unit. His employers naturally assumed he meant the British Army and was given a raise and a great send-off. In Dublin, he soon found work with an accountancy firm and moved into lodgings at 44 Mountjoy St and began the preparations for a Rising.
It was Easter, Monday, April 24, 1916. Dublin City had been bathed in sunlight over the weekend and the holiday atmosphere remained as many traveled to the beaches and hundreds of British soldiers had been given leave to attend a race in Co Kildare. It was expected to be quiet day yet at that moment, Patrick Pearce and James Conolly led their Volunteer Company, including Michael Collins, to take possession of the imposing General Post Office building on Sackville St. They would strike against the Empire "in full confidence of victory", according to the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. The reality however, was a little bleaker. By January of 1916, The Supreme Council of the IRB had decided that a Rising was to take place on Easter Sunday. By this stage the Irish Volunteers had split into two groups: the larger group (170,000 men) stayed loyal to John Redmond's Irish Parliamentary Party who fought for Britain in World War I in an attempt to gain home rule for Ireland. The other and smaller group (10,000 men) came under the command of Eoin MacNeill. These men were regarded by the...
Bibliography: Publisher: St. Martin 's Press, Inc. (February 1998)
Author: John Lloyd. (1996) August 28, 1998 v127 n4400 p10 (2)
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