Today my hero Mick Collins was assassinated by the scum in County Cork.
22 August 1922 (aged 31)
Béal na Bláth, County Cork, Ireland
In August 1922, the Civil War seemed to be winding down. The Free State had regained control of most of the country, and Collins was making frequent trips to inspect areas recently recovered from anti-Treaty forces.
His plan to travel to his native Cork on 20 August was considered particularly dangerous, and he was strenuously advised against it by several trusted associates. County Cork was an IRA stronghold as much of it was still held by anti-Treaty forces. Yet he seemed determined to make the trip without delay. He had fended off a number of attempts on his life in the preceding weeks and had acknowledged more than once, in private conversation, that the Civil War might end his life at any moment. On several occasions Collins assured his advisors "they won't shoot me in my own county," or words to that effect.
On 22 August 1922 Collins set out from Cork City on a circuitous tour of West Cork. He passed first through Macroom then took the Bandon road via Crookstown. This led through Béal na Bláth, an isolated crossroads. There they stopped at a local pub named 'Long's Pub', now known as The Diamond Bar,to ask a question of a man standing at the crossroad. The man turned out to be an anti-Treaty sentry. He and an associate recognised Collins in the back of the open-top car.
As a result, an ambush was laid by an anti-Treaty column at that point, on the chance that the convoy might come through again on their return journey. Between 7:30 and 8PM, Collins' convoy approached Béal na Bláth for the second time. By then most of the ambush party had dispersed and gone for the day, leaving just five or six men on the scene. Two were disarming a mine in the road, while three on a laneway overlooking them, provided cover. A dray cart, placed across the road, remained at the far end of the ambush site.
The Irregulars in the laneway opened fire with rifles on the convoy. Emmet Dalton ordered the driver of the touring car to 'drive like hell', but Collins said 'no, stop and we'll fight 'em' and jumped from the vehicle along with the others. Collins first took cover behind the low grass bank bordering the road but then jumped up and ran back along the road to begin firing with his Lee Enfield rifle from behind the armoured car. The Vickers machine gun in that car had also been firing at the attackers but then stopped because a badly-loaded ammunition belt caused it to jam. Apparently to get a better view of the laneway, Collins left the protection of the armoured car and moved even further back along the road. Now standing in the open, he fired a couple of shots and as he was once more working the bolt of his rifle he was shot in the head. He was the only fatality, although another member of his party suffered a neck wound. At this stage, the firing abated and the Irregulars moved away. Collins was found, face down, on the roadway. One of his men whispered an Act of Contrition into his ear, but Collins was clearly dead. He was lifted into the back of the touring car with his head resting against the shoulder of Emmet Dalton. The convoy cleared the dray cart obstruction and resumed its journey to Cork.
The lengthy time the convoy took to cover the twenty miles back to Cork City was because many of the roads were blocked and the convoy had to travel across muddy fields and through farms to circumnavigate the obstacles, all in darkness. At times, when the vehicles became bogged down, members of the convoy had to carry Collins' body on their shoulders. The touring car eventually had to be abandoned because of mechanical trouble.
According to medical staff who examined his body in Cork and in Dublin, Collins' suffered two bullets to his head: an entry wound at the hairline at the front left of his forehead and a large exit wound at the rear of his skull, just behind his right ear. There was no autopsy; the attending doctors apparently saw the cause of death as obvious and not requiring recording. Collins field diary was taken by General Emmet Dalton who had been with him during his tour of the south. The body was first presented at Shanakiel Hospital in Cork, a small military establishment, and then shipped around the coast to Dublin where it was laid out in St Vincent's Hospital Dublin. From there it was removed to the City Hall beside Dublin Castle where it was laid in state.
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1922 - Michael Collins is assassinated. On the last day of his life, he set out from Cork in a convoy that passed through Bandon, Clonakilty, and Rosscarbery on its way to Skibbereen. He stopped at Woodfield, and there in the Four Walls, the pub situated across the road from the house where his mother had been born, he stood his family and escort to the local brew - Clonakilty Wrastler. On the return trip they again passed through Bandon. Michael Collins had only twenty minutes more to live. Around eight o'clock, his convoy was ambushed at a place known as Beal na mBláth - the mouth of flowers. Only one man was killed--Michael Collins. It is thought that Irregulars did the shooting, but some say that it might have been his own men. To this day, there is controversy about what actually happened
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