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Collins, Michael (1890–1922)

William H. Mulligan, Jr.


Michael Collins was among the most important Irish republican military and political leaders in the struggle to free Ireland from British rule. He played a major part in the creation of both the Irish Republican Army and the Irish Free State. Collins was born at Woodfield, near Clonakilty, County Cork, Ireland on October 16, 1890. His father died when he was six and Collins was strongly influenced by Denis Lyons, his national school teacher, and James Santry, a local blacksmith, both of whom were active in the Fenian Brotherhood . At the age of 15 he emigrated to London where he worked in the Post Office and as an accounting clerk. During the nine years he lived in London, he was active in the Gaelic Athletic Association, the Gaelic League, and a revolutionary secret society, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). In 1916 Collins returned to Ireland to participate in the Easter Rising . He served as a captain at the General Post Office under Joseph Mary Plunkett. Collins seems to have been very much in the realist wing of the movement, and little influenced by the romantic, visionary ideas of Pádraig Pearse . The British government did not see Collins as one of the leaders of the Rising and, after a brief period of imprisonment, he returned to Ireland in December 1916 when many of those involved in the Rising were paroled. While in prison, however, Collins had emerged as a ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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