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Remembered Today:

Michael Collins


Guest AmericanDoughboy

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Guest AmericanDoughboy

Good evening,

Recently I went to my local bookstore and started reading a biography upon the Irish Revolutionist Michael Collins. I didn't purchase the book in the store because I knew for sure I would be able to get it much cheaper on Amazon so I decided to wait.

As many of you are British, and from what I understand the British and the Irish are not the happiest couple in the world and that Michael Collins is usually seen as a mad-revolutionist in the eyes of the British people, I was hoping on discussing the Easter Rebellion of 1916 and Michael Collins, himself. The main question is, what is your opinion on this Irishman?

I have yet recently picked up the subject so I would like to get a Briton's view upon things as well as the others who are involved in this forum.

-Doughboy

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Historical only ....

Collins was a pragmatist. He knew that the ultimate Irish Republican ideal of a 'Green, Gaelic Ireland' independent of Britain was an impossibility while a signiicant number of unionists in the north-eastern portion of the island were adamantly British in their outlook and allegiance. No British Government could possibly have abandoned these pro-union people at that time.

Thus he was the driving force behind the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty which secured the 26 county state of Eire as it was then known.

Collins realised that the 26 county deal was the best that could be achieved at that time. His grasp of the contemporary political reality was not match by many of his former comrades in the Republican movement who believed that their ideals had been betrayed. Thus the Irish Civil War betwen pro and anti treaty factions was a struggle which was often more bitter than the fight against the British.

I do not believe that anyone in Britain or Ireland who has even a cursory knowledge of the period would view Collins as a 'mad revolutionary'. He was a Republican but not one who was blinded by idealism. He was a skilled and ruthless operator in the 'dirty war' between the IRA and Britain but he was, to my mind, a man with whom one could 'do business' ... and a brave man who knew his signing of the treaty marked him down for death by his one time friends.

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DOUGHBOY

I gather that you may be American, and you gather that the British and Irish are not the happiest people in the world with each other i presume----the facts are.

I and thousands of British people live in the REPUBLIC of Ireland with no hassle from Irish people, and have found that the Irish people have no problem with British people or anybody else really.

The largest ethnic group in Britain for hundreds of years is Irish, running into millions of the 60+ million population. You would find it very hard to find a British person who hasnt got an Irish relation in the past 100 years, look in any British phone directory at the names.

On this part you are talking about the view of a very small minority who are allowed to go to the states and air a veiw and paint a picture which is far from the truth to an American audience for properganda purposes, but there are problems in NORTHERN IRELAND which is a completley different country to the REPUBLIC of IRELAND.

On the Easter Rising of 1916, i saw a programm recently which said and this is the very short version,----That the Irish people were going to get home rule from the British Goverment ( probably the next step before independence ), but the outbreak of WW1 put all that on a back burner. But some republicans wouldnt wait and the Germans saw a way of attacking Britain from another direction and throw a few spanners in the works, so the arranged with a very small number of Republicans to launch an attack and promissed them tens of thousands of German troops. The uprising started, the German troops never came, the uprising was put down and some of them arrested. When marched through Dublin, the Republicans were attacked by their own people in the streets as the Irish public as a whole saw it as a wrong act to do as most had a relative fighting FOR the BRITISH in Europe against the Germans. The British quite wrongly executed the captured Republicans which went down like a lead balloon with the Irish population and the rest is history as they say.----------I hope any Irish person will forgive me for shortening all this and if i have any part of this part of their history wrong, but thats what i saw a few months back on the tele.

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The British quite wrongly executed the captured Republicans which went down like a lead balloon with the Irish population and the rest is history as they say.----------I hope any Irish person will forgive me for shortening all this and if i have any part of this part of their history wrong, but thats what i saw a few months back on the tele.

Almost the worst thing the British could have done was to execute these men. They even went one better, and didn't execute Eamon De Valera as well.

Britain should have shot none, but sparing the one who was American born was really low.

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Hello Doughboy,

You don't say which book you spotted in the shop, Tim Pat Coogan's MICHAEL COLLINS A Biography (Hutchinson 1990) perhaps? Thats a very good read as he has researched all sides in that conflict and written on the IRA and DeValera. I noticed a small article in a local paper about a recently issued book titled "MICHAEL COLLINS, HIMSELF" by Chrissie Osborne ( a biography) and goes on to desribe the book as an an attempt to put a human face on the historical myth and legend. For some reason or other it does not give the publisher, but I thought while you are looking at amazon and book sites you could look out for this.

Just for info'

Regards,

C.T.

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IMHO Tim Pat Coogan is to history what Eddie the Eagle was to ski-jumping.

The difference being Eddie wasn't doing anyone any harm.

Tim Pat Coogan once dismissed protestants in Northern Ireland as a 'people of no culture' ... and this was at a seminar discussing reconciliation! As shock set in, some of the other 'figures' attempted to take him to task.

In typical TPC fashion he waved away their protests.

Put simply Tim Pat Coogan is bitter and bigoted and when he says 'Brits Out' he means people like me... not just the British army.

Honest opinion, honestly held. And if anyone is worried about libel, a solicitor fresh out of university could defend and win any action with little or no difficulty. In my opinion, it's fair comment.

This man has described MY people in the most hostile and contemptuous terms. I reserve the write to hold the same opinion of him.

If Moderators find this crosses lines, I'll be most happy to delete.

Des

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To take nothing away from Des's statement above I've read Coogan's Michael Collins and also found it to be a good read, it's clear from what Coogan writes about where his sympathies lie but that being said I think he does a pretty good job with the biography (this being said I will naturally defer to those more knowledgable). I've also read Frank O'Conner's The Big Fellow which I found to be a good read but rather dated and anecdotal if judged as a biography.

In my honest opinion it's difficult to get an unbiased view of any of the events in Ireland from 1912-1922 which makes this period similar, to me at least in terms of historical works, to the Spanish Civil War simply, very tough to get through the political arguments.

If I may Doughboy I would like to reccommend The Green Flag A History of Irish Nationalism by Robert Kee which was recommeded to me by an English friend and which I found very informative.

Trying to Tread Softly,

Neil

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Or Doughboy, jump on a plane and come Britain and Ireland for a few weeks and find out the truth and have a good time before you head off to Europe, some Americans when they come here are amazed at what they find, completley different than what they have been led to believe, oh and you wont find many thatched cottages with a Donkey outside either ;)

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Guest AmericanDoughboy

Nigel,

My stepfather is from Britain and many times you mention the Irish to him and he deeply despises their culture, which at times it somewhat offends me due to the fact that I am Irish, hence my last name: Ryan.

The book that I did pick up at the bookstore and started reading there but didn't purchase it was indeed Tim Pat Coogan's "Michael Collins: The Man Who Made Ireland" and I found it to be extremely detailed and very readable.

Desmond,

As you have said about the Germans seeing an invasion of Britain from a closer point, the same thing occured when the Irish joined forces with Napoleonic France in the Napoleonic Wars of 1803 - 1815 and begun the La Legion Irlandaise which was an Irish legion formed in the French Army and saw action in Spain, Holland and Portugal.

It seems that the Irish throughout history have tried almost anything to gain the freedom of their nation, and have tried from little skirmishes to extreme uprisings. However, my father, one very interested in Irish history, has said that quite frequently the British blame the Irish for the bombings made by the IRA and the Irish blame the British for not supporting their freedom but really it was everyone's fault.

He was recently reading a book "The Voice of the Irish: The Story of Christian Ireland" and had said, three quarters into the book, that he could see the situation between all nations collapsing and that it was really everyone's problem, not just the British and not just the Irish, even the Scottish and Welsh.

My impression of Michael Collins is an interestingly strong one, for I believe when seeing a photograph of him shotung in the streets to the Irish people he is saying a silent message to the people of: "We're tired of it."

-Doughboy

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Ryan

I honestly dont know how far you can take this to get the truth out without someone getting upset, but i will try with the little knowlege i have.

The IRA of 1916 are nowhere near the same people of the 1969 onwards crowd, as far as i know the original IRA never targeted civilians as the modern day terrorists have done. Some parts of todays IRA dont even recognise the democratically elected goverment of the REPUBLIC of IRELAND. It is true that people of the REPUBLIC OF IRELAND have aided, financed, supported, and joined the terrorist IRA. They are a minority. People who are British Citizens living in Britain have also done the same, like i said we are a big mix with MORE IRISH people who were born in the REPUBLIC of IRELAND living in Britain now, than the whole population of the Republic of Ireland at this present time. I witnessed the backlash against Irish people after the IRA bombed 2 pubs near where i lived and killed 21 innocent civillians in 1974, i was 15 and never understood it then and i dont understand it now. Every week in the REPUBLIC of IRELAND the Army of this country has to gaurd all money deliveries to banks because the IRA and others used to rob the banks of the country and people they claim to represent which they dont. Every year people from the REPUBLIC of IRELAND join the BRITISH.

ARMED FORCES because they are still allowed to do this.

If we Hated each other and couldnt get on as you seem to have suggested, me and Annette with no living Irish relatives wouldnt be living in the Republic of Ireland, and MILLIONS of IRISH people wouldnt be living in Britain.

There are bigots everywhere, you will never stop that, but what is hilarious is the views of our countries painted elsewhere, like i say Ryan come and see for yourself.

What goes on now and in 1916 up in Northern Ireland you will have to ask others about that, as they are the ones who have experienced what you may be on about

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Guest AmericanDoughboy

Nigel,

I thank you very much for your support and information. It is very difficult to see a diverse opinion upon the Irish since I do not visit Britain often, but luckily I shall visit London this winter.

Once again I thank you for giving me your facts and opinions upon the subject of the Ireland and her relationship with Britain, and for your statement of how different the IRA was then than of today.

I have a question, however, what was the Irish Republican Brotherhood? Was it considered the old IRA? Or something completely different?

-Doughboy

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Doughboy

Sorry i just realised Ryan is your last name. I only think i know what you may be referring to, i think you better ask Bepposapone and others like him who may know the exact discription

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......somewhat offends me due to the fact that I am Irish, hence my last name: Ryan.

Doughboy

Are you sure your not an American? :D

In answer to your query about the IRB, look here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/easterris...iles/po17.shtml

The best book I ever read about Ireland was: "Ireland Her Own: An Outline History of the Irish Struggle" by T.A. Jackson. Tommy Jackson was a Londoner who once lived in my home town in Sussex. People that knew him told me that he was "eccentric".

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Quote American Doughboy

Desmond,

As you have said about the Germans seeing an invasion of Britain from a closer point, the same thing occured when the Irish joined forces with Napoleonic France in the Napoleonic Wars of 1803 - 1815 and begun the La Legion Irlandaise which was an Irish legion formed in the French Army and saw action in Spain, Holland and Portugal.

Unquote American Doughboy

Sorry, Dough. Wasn't me!

However, go back to 1798 when the United Irishmen rising took place. The UI were led by Wolfe Tone who had been strongly influenced by the French Revolution. 1798 was known as 'the year of the French' and the United Irishmen enlisted French support in their attempt to overthrow the grip of the British Crown.

What is not widely known is that the Presbyterian community of North East Ulster were among the most devoted 'United Irishmen'. This was because they were not part of the 'Established Church' i.e. the Anglican Church of Ireland. Various roles in society were denied them and thus they were ready and willing to lend their pikes and muskets to the fight against what they regarded as a tyrannical government by Britain.

Sadly for future generations, the unity of 'Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter' was short-lived. In Wexford, the United Irishmen went on a sectarian killing spree which culminated in the slaughter of their very allies .. the Presbyterian minority.

Not surprisingly, when news of this unfortunate massacre became widely known, it made a huge impact on the once revolutionary Presbyterians who from that point on joined with the Anglicans to bolster the British presence in Ireland.

Massacre and counter-massacre are a sad fact in Irish history and I can fully understand how the Catholics of Wexford made the leap from 'all inclusive revolution' to taking a chance to revenge themselves on what they regarded as an alien people with an alien religion.

In the aftermath of 1798, the Fencible forces of the British Crown imposed a harsh penalty on all the people of Ireland who had dared to rebel against the Crown.

On an ancient fortification opposite the house where I was brought up, the United Irishmen of Ballymena were hung. drawn and quartered ... a horrific method of execution.

The Napoleonic period which you describe has another interesting little historical point which is known to only a few.

It was at this point in time that the term 'Croppy' came into the political language of Ireland. Basically, most people today are of the belief that 'Croppy' was a derisive term for Catholics, coined by Protestants.

Thus you had songs like 'Croppy Lie Down' being written and sung by the pro-British community. To this day, Irish Republican political activists still use rhetoric like 'The Croppies won't be lying down any more!' to signify that their supporters are ready and willing to pursue the Republican agenda.

The truth is that 'Croppy' was a derisive term for the hairstyle adopted by Bonaparte and other leading figures in the French revolution. Thus, those who had consorted with the French Revolutionaries and who had tried to copy their sartorial as well as politicial style were known as 'Croppies.'

Here endeth the lesson!! :D

And , for what it is worth. I too believe that Collins, if he had not been murdered, may well have had a very positive influence in creating respect and achieving reconciliation between the two traditions in Ireland. he would most certainly have done a better job than Eamon De Valera.

Des

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When Tim Pat Coogan's book was first published, he appeared on an Irish chat show (The Late Show?). I remember thinking then that he exhibited the worst traits a historian should have. He seemed to construct a history that he would have liked to have happend, and ignored any facts that didn't fit his scheme. He went as far as to say that he thought Michael Collins had been shot by accident! My wife, who studied the period at university, tells me that the best work to read for a totally unbiased account is 'Ireland Since the Famine' by F.S.L. Lyons.

Regards

Gavin

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Des

Wasnt it Devalera when he got into power said his aim was that every Irish man should have 5 acres, then for the next 60 odd years more and more people emergrated, or have i the wrong man ??

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Could be ....

Now I know where you're coming from!

Being a descendant of a 'Mill' family, we wouldn't have had a clue what to do with our 5 acres!

Des

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Now before we get all teary-eyed talking of how different the Old to the new IRA was...may I put before the court

btw-Collins looked into shooting a man 100 yards from my home....but was a little late in his planning!....anyhow heres this-

The June of 1922 saw one of the vilest acts against humanity committed by the Republican movement. An event took place just outside of Newry involving the slaughter of nine people which became deeply embedded on the psyche of local people - The Altnaveigh Massacre.

The murders were coordinated by Frank Aiken, who went on to become External Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister in the Republic during the fifties under De Valera. He continued in the Irish cabinet until 1969. A South Armagh man from a strongly republican village, Aiken showed "no compunction about shooting unarmed Protestants".

The IRA unit of several hundred men, which Aiken commanded, were recruited in South Armagh-North Louth and parts of Co Tyrone and South Down.

He led terrorist attacks on Newtownhamilton and Camlough police stations, and before the Altnaveigh massacre, he was involved in the murders of policemen, soldiers and civilians.

In June, 1922 Aiken still in his early 20s, issued a directive to IRA men under his command, calling for the destruction of enemy property, the property of Orangemen and the shooting of spies and informers.

During the early hours of the morning of June 17 Aiken's men claimed the lives of six Protestants at Altnaveigh and a policeman - the greatest loss of life in South Armagh on a single day until the Kingsmill massacre of January 1976, when the IRA shot 10 dead Protestant Workmen from Bessbrook.

The carnage began with the ambush of a 14-strong B-Special patrol mounted from McGuill's public house at Drumintee, later site of the Three Steps Inn pub from which SAS man Captain Robert Nairac was abducted and later murdered in May 1977.

About 50 IRA men opened fire from in and around the pub, which, according to police documents, "was being used as a meeting place for Drumintee Company IRA", Special Constable Thomas Russell was shot in the head and killed and Special Constable George Hughes wounded.

The ambush had been planned to divert Crown forces away from Altnaveigh where the sectarian killings were to take place. The Altnaveigh killings all took place after 2.30 am and lasted about an hour.

John Gray and his family at Lisdrumliska were the first to be woken and he and his wife, four daughters, five sons and two cousins were ordered downstairs. The house was set alight, while the family huddled together outside.

Ordering the Grays to remain where they were, the raiders moved on to the Heslip household next door.

House of John Gray at Lisdrumliska

Finding John Heslip (54) his wife and two sons Robert (19) and William (16) hiding in a stable - they pulled them out and made then stand with their hands up as the house was burned, John and Robert Heslip were taken outside and shot dead.

The IRA gang then returned to the Gray House, picking out Joseph Gray (20) and shooting him dead.

At 3 am, the same IRA group arrived at the house of Thomas Crozier, and elderly farmer, and his wife Elizabeth. Mr Crozier was shot and mortally wounded, falling into the arms of his son.

When Mrs Crozier came out of the house she was shot twice and died 45 minutes later. The raiders exploded a bomb in the parlour before making off.

Meanwhile a second IRA group raided the Little and Lockhart households some distance away in the Altnaveigh townland.

William Lockhart, his wife and their only son James (25) were ordered out before the house was burned. They were lined up with neighbours, the Littles. William Lockhart, his son James and John Little were then ordered to walk down the road.

Mrs Lockhart protested and when her son turned to speak to her he was grabbed by one of the raiders who told him he has disobeyed orders and shot him dead at this mother's feet. His father and Mr Little were spared.

Five other Protestant homes in the Altnaveigh area were also attacked and burned by the IRA that night.

In the same period, a seventh Altnaveigh Protestant, Draper C Holmes, was also singled out and murdered.

Two weeks after the Altnaveigh massacre, William Frazer, a Protestant publican from Newtownhamilton, disappeared after being held up by three armed men as he drove to Newry.

Lieutenant Colonna W B Spender, Northern Ireland Cabinet Secretary, wrote later that officials in Dublin had been "able to confirm that Frank Aiken is probably responsible for his (Frazer's) capture".

Nothing more was heard until 1924 when the RUC received information that Frazer's body was buried in a bog on the Ballard Mountains about four miles from Camlough.

Using grappling irons, police dragged Frazer's skeleton to the surface.

Frank Aiken was personally opposed to the Treaty with the British signed by Michael Collins but he tried to remain neutral to keep his "4th Northern IRA Division" united.

One of Frank Aiken's IRA's colleagues at the time was Tod Andrews, father of the present Foreign Minister in Dublin, David Andrews.

After the Civil War, Frank Aiken joined the Fianna Fail party and became a close associate of other former terrorists Eamon de Valera and Sean Lemass, holding senior posts in their cabinets.

He was deputy premier for 10 years from 1959 to 1969, but because of his past involvement, in sectarian killing during the 1920s he seldom travelled North.

Aiken died in 1983 and was buried in Camlough with an IRA funeral just a few yards from the grave of Raymond McCreesh, the IRA hunger striker who died in the Maze Prison two years earlier.

Though many years have passed since this atrocity took place, it must not be forgotten. It shows us that IRA violence is not a recent phenomenon but long-running. It also highlights the untrustworthy position of the Irish government in this who having always provided a safe haven for terrorists, are now shown to be compose of men responsible for or associated with genocide.

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To all those who think my family owned the place - it's a 'Downer', we were the plebs who WORKED in the bleedin' place. Looks lovely in the picture. Actually a monument to wage slavery.

I had that Lenin in the back of my cab the other day and I said ... oi, you, Lenin, proletariat my ars........ :D

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Guest AmericanDoughboy

I also have a question about what Mr. Coogan describes as: "Landlordism"

What exactly is this bizarre word? I understand that the British owned most property in Ireland by landlord groups but what was it exactly?

-Doughboy

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