In light of the anniversary of the death of Irish revolutionary Michael Collins on this day 91 years ago, I thought I should post the picture that I took at his grave site in Glasnevin cemetery, in Dublin, Ireland last summer. Glasnevin is an absolutely beautiful cemetery, dating back to 1832, seeped in Irish history and culture. Visiting Glasnevin was one of the highlights of my trip to Ireland (if my fascination with cemeteries isn’t clear by now, just take a look at my thesis). Here are a few quick facts about Glasnevin:
- Established in 1832 by Daniel O’Connell
- Non-denominational, a byproduct of the Catholic Emancipation
- 124 acres
- Key burials: Eamon De Valera, Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, Michael Collins
You can also read more about the history of Glasnevin cemetery here.
Now to get back to Michael Collins. (1890-1922). As a revolutionary leader, Sinn Fein member and Easter Rising combatant, and Minister of Finance, Collins is a much beloved figure among the Irish population. Recitations of his words are read quite often at his grave in Glasnevin.
“When a truce was agreed with Britain in July 1921, Collins and de Valera were the two most powerful men in republican Ireland. Collins led the Irish delegation at the peace conference in London which resulted in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921. This brought the Irish Free State into existence and partitioned the island, with six predominantly Unionist counties in the north remaining outside the Free State. The Treaty was passed by the cabinet in Dublin by one vote, with de Valera opposed, and was accepted by the Dáil by a very small majority. Collins became chairman and finance minister of the provisional government.
The republican movement was now split into those who opposed and those who supported the treaty. In April 1922, a group of anti-Treaty IRA men took control of the Four Courts Building in Dublin. With support from London, Collins ordered it to be attacked, marking the beginning of civil war in Ireland. Collins took charge as commander-in-chief of the pro-treaty, Free State army. His campaign was successful but before its conclusion, on 22 August 1922, he was assassinated by anti-treaty forces in an ambush in County Cork.” (source)
“His car was ambushed at a place called Beal na mBlath and Collins was shot dead. To this day, no-one is completely sure what happened or who killed him. No-one else was killed in the ambush. Collins’ body lay in state in Dublin for three days and thousands paid their respects. Thousands also lined the streets for his funeral procession.” (source)
If you ever find yourself in Dublin, make sure to take some time to walk through the historic rows of Glasnevin cemetery, for a truly amazing experience. And certainly stop by the infamous grave of Michael Collins.