One of my biggest passions besides travel is Irish history. Ever since I was young I remember reading books and watching documentaries about Irelands move towards Independence. One of the largest figures in Irish history, especially around this period is Michael Collins. So last year I made it my mission to visit Michael Collins home.
I have only written short history pieces about the Eagles Nest and Pablo Escobar. Hopefully, this article will motivate me to write more history based articles. That all depends on how you enjoy the article of course
Michael Collins home and life:
Michael Collins was born in Sams cross, Woodfield near the town of Clonakilty in Co. Cork in 1890. His childhood was spent in the local area where he attended school in Clonakilty and helped his brother-in-law with a local paper. At this time he was also introduced to Irish Republican groups and the idea of using force to gain Ireland’s freedom.
When he was 16 he moved to London to live with his sister and work in the civil service. He became a clerk in a post office and had a number of roles in finance and secretarial positions. While in London he became a member of the IRB a secret society sworn to fight for Irelands Independence.
Upon his return to Ireland, he took part in the 1916 Easter rising. This was a failed attempt to overthrow the British government in Ireland. Many of the leaders were executed and thousands of men across the country were interned. Many of the men including Collins used this opportunity to reorganize and prepare for the next engagement.
Between 1919 and 1921 Collins had varying important roles both within the newly formed IRA and the Irish absentee government Dáil Eireann´. These positions included Minister for Finance, Director of Intelligence of the IRA and President of the IRB. He is considered by many to have been one of the main driving forces in bringing the British government to the negotiating table.
In contentious circumstances, he along with other dignitaries were sent to negotiate with leading Britsih Politicians including Winston Churchill. What they returned with fell short of an independent Republic. For many fighting men.
Between 1922 and 1923 Ireland fell into a brutal civil war between those who supported the treaty and those who did not. Collins led the pro-treaty army which was supported by the vast majority of the population. He began to reorganize the army along traditional lines and set up a provisional government.
Collins continued to make moves towards peace throughout the civil war. On a visit to West Cork, in very close proximity to his birthplace, Collins convoy was ambushed and he was shot dead by an unknown sniper. He was the only casualty.
Finding Michael Collins home:
As an admirer of Michael Collins, I had always wanted to visit both his home and where he died. Tragically they are in very close proximity to one another. I drove three hours from my home in Kildare to Bandom in Co. Cork. From here with the help of locals and google maps I located the area of Beal Na Blath (Irish: Mouth of the flower). This is the location where Micahel Collins was killed in 1922. At the time it was a dirt road. It has been expanded to accommodate the many people who come to visit and pay their respects, but it remains a very rural area. A large Celtic cross commemorates the location and a smaller white cross marks the spot where he fell.
From Beal na Blath we returned to Bandon. From here it is a further 25 minutes to the town of Clonakilty. To reach Michael Collins home you must drive through the centre of town and follow signpost directing you to Sams cross. Here you will come to a crossroads with Four Alls Bar in front of you, take the left and follow the road straight to a T-junction. Here you must take a right, follow the road and the remains of the house will be on your left. It is clearly signposted and easy to spot.
The grounds are maintained by the office of public works which restore and take care of many historic sites in Ireland. Upon entering the grounds you will notice many information boards giving details about Michael Collins home, his family, and his life. The main areas to see are the foundations of the home and an outbuilding. The foundations are the remains of Michael Collins home, this was burnt by the British military in 1921. The outbuilding was actually the place of Michael Collins birth in 1890 and served as the family home until he was 10.
To spend the day in this part of the country and to finally see these locations was a trip I’m glad I finally got to do. If the history of these locations doesn’t intrigue you then the countryside and scenery would. The towns of Clonakilty and Bandon have a lot to offer any visitor.
See here for other landmarks in Ireland.
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