~ Michael Collins The Early Years~
Michael Collins My Uncle
By his nephew the Late Michael Collins
(with the kind permission of Justin Nelson author of "Michael Colins The Final Days")
Cont. Page 3
On his release from Frongoch prison he began collecting men and women for his Movement. Collins went for four weeks to Southhampton, Manchester and Liverpool. All over Dublin City he met the navvies, the dockers, the sailors, the barmen, and particularly the dairymen and the fruit sellers because these people in a natural situation would arouse no suspicion with the British during their daily rounds selling their fruit and vegetables in Moore Street and other places.
Collins met the vast majority of this disparate group of people once only. I spoke to several of them who remember their meeting as if it was yesterday, still remembering the impact of that meeting which showed his power and determination, and the conviction that he could win the vital necessity of confidentiality. If you get them over the Irish sea Ill have them, (i.e., guns) taken from you by safe men to safe houses and you will never be under suspicion, he told the men working on the cross-channel boats. He established for himself around the perimeter of Dublin City seven or eight bolt holes where he could go when under extreme pressure.
The British were beginning to see that the movement was gathering momentum and for the entire duration of the War of Independence he was convinced that the best form of disguise was none at all. It is now hard to imagine that Collins fought against the might of the Empire of Britain from a bicycle as he cycled from one of these bolt holes to another.
There was a price of £10,000 on his head, and where the average workers wage in those years was two pounds, two shillings a week, not one Irish Citizen harboured the thought of betraying this young West Cork man who was becoming the main figure of hope of this fight.
Dan Breen had set the ball rolling with the Soloheadbeg ambush in Co. Tipperary on 21st. January 1919 along with his comrades Sean Treacy, Seamus Robinson, Sean Hogan, Tim Crowe, Patrick ODwyer, Michael Ryan, Patrick McCormack and Jack OMara. Dan came up to Dublin to report to Collins, his Commander-in Chief Ironically at that time Collins working day was 5am to midnight, and as my mother said, with a degree of irony, He had fixed the appointment for Dan for 5am, which would be the nearer the time that Dan would be going to bed never mind coming to an appointment!.
I visited Dan Breen, who later became a T.D., many a time myself during the last few years of his life, - most of which was spent in the Brothers of St. John of God in Kilcroney, and learned an invaluable amount of Irish History from him. Those who may have seen him on Telefis Eireann in its early years may recall hearing Maurice ODoherty trying to get some criticisms out of Dan about Collins, and when asked towards the end of the interview what he thought of Collins, that raw faced powerfril man looked into the television camera and without any embarrassment said I loved him.
Breen told me himself he went into that meeting with Collins in 1919 full of the spirit of Solohead at 5 oclock in the morning and Collins said to him, I have a quarter of an hour left so lets get down to business. I want to tell you Comdt. Breen that your command is at risk. You broke two of my orders at that ambush. And Dan told me he was truly astonished. You had a married man in the ambush he said and you as Commander showed yourself flamboyantly and ostentatiously to the end.
Dan, the raw faced Tipperary man said, Christ Mick, what are those bloody words youve said? Theyre criticisms, and they shouldnt have happened. Dan was off his guard and downhearted, but before he knew where he was, Collins was across the desk and having grabbed him by the shoulders they ended up grovelling on the flat of his back on the floor where they wrestled for a few minutes!. Dan then told him how on many a night on the Galtees he would never have gotten through without a plug of tobacco and a small Jameson.
Dan Breen was asked by Collins nine months later to do a special task which needed a special man. He was summoned to Dublin and Michael detailed what he wanted done. You will be accompanied by a man who knows Dublin like the back of his hand, he said. They found themselves up in the Drumcondra area at 2am in the morning with the British Army all around and his companion said, Dont worry Dan, we can always escape through Professor Carolans rear garden across the wall and well be on a back road then and well get away safely.
They had forgotten that Professor Carolan had built a glass house under the bedroom window and, as Breen told me, he jumped straight through it with his hat on !. Dan was incarcerated in the Mater Hospital where he told me he was so injured that he had no interest at that moment in the future of Ireland, and couldnt care less what happened to Collins in the fight. In his own words; I was falling into a broken sleep when at 6:30am a little biteen of a nurse came in and said; And how are we this morning Mr. Breen ?. I told her he said, in non-dictionary language how I was and hoped she was somewhat better. She plumped up my pillows. I was now awake and I saw there were two British Soldiers on each door of the ward. She was kind, even though I didnt appreciate it at the time. She said to me, Take that medicine under the pillow when I leave, Mr. Breen. Breen put his hand under the pillow and he told me with tears in his eyes God dammit Michael, under that pillow was the Plug of Mick McQuaid and a baby Jameson, - the two things I needed most.
I relate this incident to illustrate how, for Michael Collins, his men and women were first in his thoughts and in that extraordinary organisational ability that beat the British, nothing was left out. For him, no task was too big or too little. Here was a man taking on the might of the Empire and yet he recorded in his mind what Dan would most appreciate at this time. No wonder Dan loved him and though they differed subsequently, Breen spoke with extraordinary clarity and driving conviction of what a tragedy Collins death was to the Nation.
Curfew was nine oclock but Collins didnt know the meaning of curfew. He was running this war from 5 in the morning till midnight and he knew that the most vital ingredient in the war with the British was to beat them to the punch. There the the only successful revolutionary in Irish history realised that even if he was to have a chance to win, he must get inside the thought process ot the British.
In Neil Jordans epic movie Michael Collins, the main person in Dublin Castle is depicted as Eamon Broy. The fact is that the main man in the Castle was the great and brave Dave Nelligan who wrote those absorbing articles 30 years later in the Evening Herald called The Spy in the Castle detailing what life in the Castle was like then. He, Broy, Kavanagh from Kilmacow in Co. Kilkenny and James McNamara laid their individual collective lives on the line every day they went into that Castle and with every document they got out safely to Collins. It is a fact that right through that vital period of 1919 and early 1920 the documents of instruction to every army and barracks in Ireland were in the hands of Collins before the officers and the head constables in those barracks ever got them.
That was the tremendous organisation, and clear thinking of an extraordinary mind that finished its formal education at 12 years of age but used every minute and hour of each day to convert the dream of a young fellow into the reality of freedom that you and I enjoy to-day.
In 1919 Mr. de Valera decided that, as an American citizen, he would gain entry to President Wilson and would have an influence on America in this fight for freedom. de Valera was married with a young family and it is amazing that he spent seventeen months in the United States. During all that period, terrifying warfare was going on back home, where the British, with an eye on world public opinion, could not have their armies carry out despicable acts to beat down this dedicated young bunch of men who were taking on the might of the great British Empire.
However, they brought over the Auxies and the Black and Tans, and the war, in which Collins over-riding determination was that the least possible number should be killed, turned dirty. Villages, towns, localities were shot up, burned and brutalised. Collins met fire with fire. The ambushes continued and grew more successful.
Gearóid O'Sullivan (in dark jacket) With members of the Squad
The tide was beginning to turn. The vast majority of the people were fighting and following the instructions of this man they idolised because of what they knew were his characteristics. Each of them were men and women who were not expendable. Nobody should be put at risk but nobody demurred from the ultimate sacrifice that was asked of them to ensure that the cap-touching, forelock tipping of centuries and the castles and stately homes that were a reminder to boys and girls that we were a slave nation would be changed forever. That would not be the lot of the Irish people ever again, and therefore there was this tremendous will to win. Collins went from post to post, meeting the problems of the day, and every commander, no matter how small the unit was throughout the entire island knew that if there was a problem, Get to Mick, and hell get it done.
The British were now desperately worried as to how they could cope with these will-o-the-wisps who would hit them and then vanish. In late 1919, Nancy OBrien whom I mentioned earlier, had got rapid promotion in the Post Office. She was sitting in her office when she was sent for by the head of the British Post Office,the civilian side of British rule in Ireland, The Hon. James McMahon. He said to her, We are aware of your dedication and your work. I must say to you, he said, that theres a young man from your own country who like all of the idiots in century after century would look at the might of the British Empire and think they could take it on. Michael Collins is his name. Oh! Yes! she said, Ive heard of him. That man he said will fail inevitably like all those damn fools before him. To get to the point Miss OBrien, he said We must admit he has the military information even before the officers to which it is sent. Whitehall is now so worried that they are going to send the vital civilian information necessary for running this outpost of our Empire in code, and we have decided, because of your dedication and your lack of interest in this person that you will be the person to decode all of these messages
Nancy OBrien was shocked to say the least and having got the instructions that it would start from the coming Wednesday, she contacted Joe McGrath and said, I need to see Mick. Joe McGrath knew that Nancy OBrien would not look for Mick unless something important was on. He got back to her, Mick will meet you in Vaughans Hotel at 8 o clock tonight. Hed better be on time said Nancy 0 Brien, because the curfew is 9 oclock and as a loyal servant of the British Empire and I must be at home in my bed myself by then!
She went to Vaughans Hotel at 8 oclock, where she recognised, -swinging from the parapet by his finger tips, his Cork backside. Collins got out of that problem, and had a word with Christy the hotel porter who came out and told her where to go in Parnell Square, and that Collins would meet her there.
When they met she told him what had happened and she said he laughed in the midst of all the stress and worry - God dammit, Nancy he said, You've heard me express my admiration of the Great Empire that could hold so many parts of the world enchained for so many centuries, and now he said, they are allowing all of the civilian information for Ireland to come through my second cousin! From Wednesday, every day between 2:30 and 3:30 you will have whatever you decode in the hands of Joe McGrath, Liam Tobin or Desmond Fitzgerald. I want no excuses he said. Be there!. How you get it out - thats your worry, because when you are working for me you will express your own ingenuity and from what I know of you, you are intelligent enough, even if you are from the other side of Clonakilty. Michael she said, What will I do about lunch? He looked her up and down and said Do without lunch and it will help to get some of that weight off you.
The messages flowed and the war was now at its height. Collins was now under tremendous stress and one particular thing was worrying him. He met Nancy 0 Brien and said to her - Have you got any messages for me that you are not passing on?. She was carrying out the coded message in the chignon she wore on her hair. Im getting concerned with one or two of my colleagues who are wondering what is going on. Ive given you everything I have got, she said. So he left her and five days later he came back and managed to meet her. Nancy he said, Are you sure you are giving me everything? Well she said, apart from this very strange letter I got a few days ago supposed to be from a secret admirer. I couldnt make head nor tail of it. It referred to the seat on the canal where he and I were sitting when the Angelus bells were ringing, and the beautiful sheen of my auburn hair which caught the glint of light from the 3rd window, and all that sort of nonsense Nonsense ? he said The 3rd window is where Beasley and Stack are in prison 6pm is the time of the changing of the guards and you lapped up that bloody nonsense and didnt tell me he said. Im expected to fight a war with the might of Britain and my own second cousin falls for that as if it is from an admirer
Its about time I told you that the said Nancy 0 Brien is my own mother, and I have experienced occasions similar to the next minute or two when she turned around and said I have laid my life on the line for you for the last six months and thats all you have to say to me - abuse and contempt. You can run your own bloody war, Mick, in the future for your own Ireland. I am the leavings of the near escapes, the anxieties and all of the worries and she stormed off and left him there.
Johnie Collins with his second wife Nancy O'Brien (who had helped Michael Collins whilst employed by the British Civil Service in Dublin) and their son Michael seated front right, (autor of this article).
At 2am on the following morning, at the height of the Dublin trouble and the warfare, she awoke in her digs in lona Rd, Glasnevin to the sound of gravel being flung up at her bedroom window. She said What a nerve. This is probably somebody that Mrs. Murphy, my landlady is to mind for a few weeks, because he is on the run from Tipperary or Limerick or somewhere like that. She made her way to the window, and there standing in the little square of grass was Michael Collins. She put on her dressing gown and came downstairs to the hall door.
Nancy a Gradh he said, Sure youre my own and you are the best I have. Youve no idea of the pressures Im under. Im not at all well, but we must now pull off the final stroke and win. I am in touch he said with my brother Johnny down at home, and the Woodfield area is where theyre beginning to plan a major assault. I was anxious this evening and Im sorry I hurt you. I was upset about it and there was no way I could go to bed without come over to apologise to you"
This is but another example of the hundreds of incidents where Collins showed that laying his own life on the line was nothing because others were prepared to fight to the death if necessary. She was just astonished, and terrified for him having to make his way back to 0Connors by foot, - (over 4 miles to Donnybrook) during the curfew. As he headed off he looked back over his shoulder and shouted to her Dammit Nancy, I forgot, - I left the bag of bulls eye sweets on the windowsill for Mrs. Murphy .
If any of you are ever in West Cork, you should go to the place where Collins was born near Lisavaird. Stand on the foundations of the new house that my father built for my grandmother in 1900, and there in your minds eye you can visualise the magnificent farmhouse that was there before it was burned to the ground by the British forces. Within that top room my father Johnnie, together with Tom Barry and Liam Deasy planned strategy of the Kilmichael ambush which took place on the 28th. November. Kilmichael was the catalyst in the War, with the entire force of 23 soldiers being wiped out by the West Cork Brigade.
That was the type of guerrilla warfare which was later adapted by Yitzak Shamir in the Israeli 1967 war, Mao Tse Tsung in China and the countless revolutionaries in Africa. It was the first example of guerrilla warfare brought to its fullest conclusion and that was the thinking of young Michael Collins. Shamir even called his crack regiment, The Mickail during that Israeli war.
One of the finest scenes in the recently released Michael Collins movie showed Collins beloved henchman Joe 0 Reilly coming to him on an evening of his first relaxation for years with Harry Boland and Kitty Kiernan in the Royal Marine Hotel in Dunlaoire. Kitty xvas dancing with Harry and Michael in the film was relaxed and nodding off as he listened to Frank Patterson s singing on the stage.
Joe 0 Reilly ran in and said Blast you Michael, I was looking for you everywhere. Theyre looking for a truce . The utter sheer joy that Neeson portrayed in his brilliant characterisation of Collins summed tip that one moment of precious success, - satisfaction. The joy of winning that all of us know after a lot of losses on the way up, was what Collins enjoyed to the full. Yet he was wondering what was ahead of him now. What would be the ultimate settlement?
Dc Valera had returned after an extraordinary seventeen months in America and Harry Boland wrote to Michael to say that his 50th attempt to see President Wilson met with the same result of the previous 49. He never succeeded in meeting the U.S. President. There were eleven Irish - American Societies in the eleven major cites of the Sates that time. Mr. De Valera visited every one of them. He asked them to accept that they were Irishmen first and Americans second. Irish Americans, will not accept this now any more than they would accept it then.
They were Americans first for the simple reason that their parents had brought them out of an Ireland where there was no chance of work and they got that opportunity in America and to the extent that they took it they rose in American society and if they didnt take it they sunk to the depths and became ghettoised.
When he spoke to John Devoy, the greatest Fenian of them all with ODonovan Rossa, Devoy stood before him in Seattle and said, No, Dev - being an American first doesnt make me any less of an Irishman, but my father brought me here after spending 12 years in British jails. I came here and I got a chance. Ive made a success of my life, but that doesnt lessen my love for the homeland. It accentuates it to this extent that I now have earnings that can help.
Each of those eleven societies dissolved or became ineffective within seventeen months. Mr. de Valera came back to Ireland, and was nominated as President of the Republic by The Blacksmith from Ballinalee, Sean MacEoin. Dev was now a man of international stature, because of the worldwide publicity given to him. In 1916 after being Comdt. in Bolands Mills he wrote claiming his right to life on the basis that he was an American citizen, and so he was saved.
Then came the Truce, and many of these simple fine Irishmen went back to their homes and pints were shoved into their hands. It was a period of great upset in Ireland. Collins saw the discipline dissolve. Breen and Tom Barry saw it and they expressed an urgency to the Irish Republican Brotherhood to get on with some type of settlement.
The first clear sign of jealousy was arising between Dev and Collins. Dev wanted Collins to go to America, and Collins knew there would be nowhere in the world hed be more out of place. Eamon de Valera then went himself to London to see Lloyd George as to what were the outlines of the potential settlement. Over two days, he met Lloyd George alone for seven and a half hours.
Mr. de Valera was a brilliant man, a man who subsequently showed great negotiating ability and yet he knew because of his intelligence and because of the clarity with which LLoyd George put it to him that the only settlement available would incorporate in stone what was already enacted by the British Parliament, the fact that six of the Northern counties,- (though Carson looked for nine ) were now part of an Ulster that wished to remain as part of the British Empire.
Eventually, a delegation was decided on to go and negotiate the Settlement. Michael Collins got the second copy of the five plenipotentiarys document and it is his copy signed by de Valera which is shown here. The document states, and note the wording; Negotiate and conclude.
Collins was beginning to discern the dissensions that were beginning to build up and at first refused point blank to go. One of his closest associates was the great Bat OConnor, whose home, lovingly looked after by Mrs. OConnor was his favourite bolt hole. Many, many years afterwards I met her at the graveside ot her husband who was buried as near to Mick as they could put him. With a smile on her 82 year old face she said
Michael boy, do you know what I was saying to Bat, and I felt he understood me, even though he is buried down there 36 years?. Bat, she said, I dont know which of the two of you I love most, but there was nothing in it so take the odds!. That was the sort of relationship that was there. Their eldest daughter is now 87 and is a Carmelite Nun in Simmonscourt Road, Ballsbridge.
She tells the story that one day as a small child, she had hurt her leg the day before, and she was home from school. When Collins would call to her home she would always clean Michaels bicycle and she would get the Bulls Eye sweets from him in return. That night she heard her father and Michael discussing in an adjoining room until 5.00 in the morning. She recalls it was the only time in her life that she heard two men crying. Collins wouldnt go home.
Im being set up he said, and eventually close to 5.00 am she heard her dad say, Well everything seems to have failed, Mick, but Dev had anticipated this would happen and he asked me to ask you, to go, - for the love of Ireland?
In his thirtieth year, Collins sat down across a table to negotiate
with the might of that British Empire. Remember that extraordinary genius that won the 1939 -45 World War for Britain, Winston Churchill who was only the fourth in the British delegation; consisting of Lord George, Chamberlain, Birkenhead, and Churchill.
During the Treaty negotiations in London
When the British Negotiators brought the signed Treaty back into the House of Commons, as one can read in Hansard, if given a chance to view it, they were castigated , demonised and absolutely abhorred by the Opposition and the general run of English people for what they gave away to this upstart Collins, and were asked how they could not brow beat this lot of Paddies into submission.
Years later, my father spoke with Birkenhead who told him that Chamberlain, Churchill and himself were astounded at the learning of this man, - of his knowledge of economics, of his planning for the fliture of his country, of the winning of the every concession, some minute, that he could get in the negotiations. That Treaty was signed on 6th. December 21 and it is absolutely true that as Birkenhead was leaving the Chamber said;
Well Collins, I signed my political death warrant.
Thats nothing Michael replied, Ive just signed my actual death warrant.
Collins knew the rumblings at home. I should emphasise here that every time they returned from these negotiations, Collins interceded with Dev to meet him and to discuss tactics. Dev would not have anything to do with him. Collins turned then to the Organisation into which he was sworn by Sam Maguire, The Irish Republican Brotherhood, the ultimate Organisation of responsibility. Without exception, they told Michael to do the best he could, and that no man could do more than he could.
That he did.
Collins came back to a Cabinet that was divided. Austin Stack had been promoted, though his Department, because of his inefficiency, was a joke to his colleagues. Collins felt hurt and slighted. He said to Nancy OBrien that night, Our Cabinet now is more divided than the Cabinet in hell. I see sad times ahead.
The Treaty terms were debated in the Chamber and the bitterness developed, but when we look at Government majorities over the world now, how many Nations would be thrilled with the majority of 2 or 3, not to mind the majority of 7 given in favour of accepting the terms of the Treaty?.
Collins begged, with all the powers he had, Dev, now that you didnt go yourself, by all means oppose us in this house, castigate us, push us further so that we can go again, as we have the right under this Treaty to discuss it in the immediate years ahead, but, do it within the Dáil. One of the greatest things weve got he said, is the conviction that the Boundary Commission can meet on an equal footing of two sovereign Governments. The British have undertaken that if three of the Six Counties wish to join the 26, then there will be no valid reason for Stormont consequently.
However jealousy and small mindedness prevailed. Collins said in those prophetic words; It gives us freedom to achieve freedom. The ideal must always be there, and the ultimate freedom will be the determination of successive generations of Irish men and women working within the democratic process because the time for fighting is over. If we seek for that ideal, and if we come together now that we have the British Army and the British trappings of power removed, there is no limit to how far we might go.
I think History has now recorded that one of the two greatest errors committed by a great Statesman, Mr. de Valera, was in his not going to London as Head of the Treaty negotiating team. He was the educated man, being a Professor. He was President of the Republic. He was an American citizen who carried great power and had he, even after deciding not to go to London, subsequently followed the democratic process and opposed literally what the Settlement fell short of, -then democracy might have prevailed and Ireland might have gone further forward.
Among The Ministers walking behind the gun carriage were from left - Ernest Blythe, W.T. Cosgrave, P. Hogan, E. Duggan, Eoin McNeill, J.J. Walshe, and Desmond Fitzgerald (father of former Taoiseach Dr Garrett Fitzgerald)
Mr. de Valera met the great Field Marshall Smuts. If you read Smuts biography, you will see that he who became Governor General of South Africa after the Boer War, had come to meet Mr. de Valera, not as an emissary of Lloyd George but as an emissary of the King. He expressed to de Valera his great admiration for the work done by Collins in achieving the military freedom of Ireland. In Smuts biography, it states that Mr. de Valera accepted that there was no question of a Republic being attainable for generations to come.
The Cabinet tried to install the Treaty, which was passed by the majority itself. Mr. de Valera left the chamber and democracy was not allowed to prevail. They broke on the Oath which was an empty formula. Then came the second mistake of this man, who subsequently was a great Irish Statesman. Mr. de Valera throughout his life was a deeply conservative and religious man. He was a man of great ability and a man of deep faith. After Mass, on the 17th March 1922, he addressed a crowd of 20,000 and he said to them,
"To prevent this Treaty working, we will wade, if necessary, through brothers blood.
Sadly thats what happened, and Michael Collins died in an ambush from fellow Irishmen at Beal an Blath, - one of the many tragically killed on both sides.
Meeting of the Pro and Anti Treaty officers at the Mansion House, Dublin on 8th. May 1922 (from Left to Right) : Sean MacEoin, Sean Moylan, Eoin O'Duffy, Liam Lynch, Gearóid O'Sullivan and Liam Mellows
Subsequently Michael sought to justify his actions for the pact with de Valera, in a lengthy statement which was afterwards republished in "The Path to Freedom", the collection of his writings which appeared postumously:
"The policy of the anti-Treaty party had now become clear to prevent the peoples will from being carried out because it differed from their own, to create trouble in order to break up the only possible National Government, and to destroy the Treaty with utter recklessness as to the consequences. A section of the army, in an attempt at military despotism, seized public buildings, took possession of the Chief Courts of Law of the Nation, dislocating private and national business, reinforced the Belfast Boycott which had been discontinued by the peoples government, and commandeered public and private funds, and the property of the people.
Met by this reckless and wrecking opposition, and yet unwilling to use force against our own countrymen, we made attempt after attempt at conciliation.
We appealed to the soldiers to avoid strife, to let the old feelings of brotherhood and solidarity continue. We met and made advances over and over again to the politicians, standing out alone on the one fundamental point on which we owed an unquestioned duty to the people that we must maintain for them the position of freedom they had secured. We could get no guarantee that we would be allowed to carry out that duty.
The country was face to face with disaster, economic ruin, and the Imminent danger of the loss of the position we had won by the national effort. If order could nor be maintained, if no National Government was to be allowed to function, a vacuum would be created, into which the English would necessarily be drawn back. To allow that to happen would have been the greatest betrayal of the Irish people, whose one wish was to take and to secure and to make use of the freedom which had been won.
Seeing the trend of events, soldiers from both sides met to try and reach an understanding, on the basis that the people were admittedly in favour of the Treaty, that the only legitimate government could be based on the peoples will, and that the practicable course was to keep the peace, and to make use of the position we had secured.
These honourable efforts were defeated by the politicians. But at the eleventh hour an agreement was reached between Mr de Valera and myself for which I have been severely criticised.
It was said that I gave away too much, that I went too far to meet them, that I had exceeded my powers in making a pact which, to some extent, interfered with the peoples right to make a free and full choice at the elections. It was a last effort on our part to avoid strife, to prevent the use of force by Irishmen against Irishmen."
The purpose of his visit there was to meet the remaining Leaders of the Brigades,- those men he loved, (and they loved him in return), in the hope that they might sort out some way of ending this Civil War, which Collins more than anybody in the Government tried to stop. To such an extent that as a sovereign Government, they were entitled to criticise him for not taking on the situation of the Four Courts earlier, but they couldnt understand this abiding loyalty of Collins, to his men and his reluctance to engage in hostilities with them.
Put superbly in that tragic five seconds in the film where the young soldier who finished off Harry Boland and said with justification that He was one of them. A broken hearted Commander-in-Chief thinking of the times that had been, said
No, God Almighty he was one of ours. Each one of them who participated in the fight were Collinss till the last breath he drew."
The funeral cortege passing the multitudes in O'Connell St, Dublin