Michael Collins (Irish leader)

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Michael Collins (in Irish Mícheál Seán Ó Coileáin; 16 October 189022 August 1922) was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance in the Irish Republic, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations, both as Chairman of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-Chief of the National Army.


  • When you have sweated, toiled, had mad dreams, hopeless nightmares, you find yourself in London's streets, cold and dank in the night air. Think — what have I got for Ireland? Something which she has wanted these past seven hundred years. Will anyone be satisfied at the bargain? Will anyone? I tell you this; early this morning I signed my death warrant. I thought at the time how odd, how ridiculous — a bullet may just as well have done the job five years ago.
    • Liam, Cathal (2006). Blood on the Shamrock: A Novel of Ireland's Continued Struggle for Freedom 1921-1924. St. Padraic Press, p. 194.
  • Now as one of the signatories of the document I naturally recommend its acceptance. I do not recommend it for more than it is. Equally I do not recommend it for less than it is. In my opinion it gives us freedom, not the ultimate freedom that all nations desire and develop to, but the freedom to achieve it.
  • How could one argue with a man who was always drawing lines and circles to explain the position; who, one day, drew a diagram [here Michael illustrated with pen and paper] saying 'take a point A, draw a straight line to point B, now three-fourths of the way up the line take a point C. The straight line AB is the road to the Republic; C is where we have got to along the road, we canot move any further along the straight road to our goal B; take a point out there, D [off the line AB]. Now if we bend the line a bit from C to D then we can bend it a little further, to another point E and if we can bend it to CE that will get us around Cathal Brugha which is what we want!' How could you talk to a man like that?
    • Referring to Eamon de Valera in conversation with Michael Hayes, at the debates over the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921
    • Michael Hayes Papers, P53/299, UCDA
    • Quoted in Doherty, Gabriel and Keogh, Dermot (2006). Michael Collins and the Making of the Irish State. Mercier Press, p. 153.
  • There is no British Government anymore in Ireland. It is gone. It is no longer the enemy. We have now a native government, constitutionally elected, and it is the duty of every Irish man and woman to obey it. Anyone who fails to obey is an enemy of the people and must expect to be treated as such. We have to learn that attitudes and actions which were justifiable when directed against alien administration, holding its position by force, are wholly unjustifiable against a native government which exists only to carry out the people's will, and can be changed the moment it ceases to do so. We have to learn that freedom imposes responsibilities.
    • A Path to Freedom (2010), p. 14
  • The Treaty is already vindicating itself. The English Die-hards said to Mr. Lloyd George and his Cabinet: "You have surrendered". Our own Die-hards said to us: "You have surrendered". There is a simple test. Those who are left in possession of the battlefield have won.
  • A Path to Freedom (2010), p. 23
  • The European War, which began in 1914, is now generally recognized to have been a war between two rival empires, an old one and a new, the new becoming such a successful rival of the old, commercially and militarily, that the world-stage was, or was thought to be, not large enough for both. Germany spoke frankly of her need for expansion, and for new fields of enterprise for her surplus population. England, who likes to fight under a high-sounding title, got her opportunity in the invasion of Belgium. She was entering the war 'in defense of the freedom of small nationalities'. America at first looked on, but she accepted the motive in good faith, and she ultimately joined in as the champion of the weak against the strong. She concentrated attention upon the principle of self-determination and the reign of law based upon the consent of the governed. "Shall", asked President Wilson, "the military power of any small nation, or group of nations, be suffered to determine the fortunes of peoples over whom they have no right to rule except the right of force?" But the most flagrant instance of violation of this principle did not seem to strike the imagination of President Wilson, and he led the American nation- peopled so largely by Irish men and women who had fled from British oppression- into the battle and to the side of the nation that for hundreds of years had determined the fortunes of the Irish people against their wish, and had ruled them, and was still ruling them, by no other right than the right of force.
    • A Path to Freedom (2010), p. 38
  • Our army, if it exists for honorable purposes only, will draw to it honorable men. It will call to it the best men of our race- men of skill and culture. It will not be recruited as so many modern nations are, from those who are industrially useless.
    • A Path to Freedom (2010), p. 64
  • We are a small nation. Our military strength in proportion to the mighty armaments of modern nations can never be considerable. Our strength as a nation will depend upon our economic freedom, and upon our moral and intellectual force. In these we can become a shining light in the world.
    • A Path to Freedom (2010), p. 64

Quotes about Collins[edit]

Candles dripping blood, they placed beside your shoulders
Rosary beads like teardrops on your fingers
Friends and comrades standing by, in their grief they wonder why
Michael in their hour of need you had to go
Michael, in our hour of need, why did you go?
  • Irish singer Johnny McEvoy, in his song Michael
Oh long will old Ireland be seeking in vain
Ere we find a new leader to match the man slain
A true son of Grainne his name long will shine
O gallant Mick Collins cut off in his prime
  • Irish rebel music band The Wolfe Tones, in their song Michael Collins (1983)

External links[edit]