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Michael Collins and the IRA (1 Viewer)


DP Veteran
Aug 23, 2005
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South Shore of Long Island.
Political Leaning
Very Liberal
I just finished reading a book 1921 by Morgan Llywelyn and I must say the Anglo-Irish war is a very interesting topic, though hardly anyone ever knows about it. I can actually claim this piece of history as a part of my own heritage as my own great great Grandfather was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (later the IRA) and was deported from Ireland during the Orange Order's march where he jumped through one of their bass drums. If the first thing you think of when you think about the IRA is carbombings, Irish radicals marching with guns, and pro-IRA slogans plastered all over belfast, I think you'll be surpirsed when you read it.
Michael Collins certainly was a remarkable man. The IRA under him was not a terrorist organization but just one trying to get freedom from Ireland. But they went off the rails a little after the war when they naively thought they would acquire a complete republic.
It must have been heartbreaking when after fighting for years for their indepedence, they finally found each other split on different sides because of a difference in politics. It was strange because the socialists, fascists, anarchists, conservatives, and liberals all fought together in relative peace but when the Civil War came, things would've split up.

I think I would've supported the Free Staters though in the Civil War because I would've agreed that its probably better to work towards a true republic rather then continue fighting a costly war which would, in effect, kill many people and ruin the economy. The Free State government was really oppressive at that time though and I certainly wouldn't have supported that so actually. . .maybe I would've supported the Republicans. I dunno lol.

I do think Michael Collins got a bad wrap though. All he was doing was trying to create peace. If anyone mad a mistake in the war, it was Eamon De Valera for sending less skilled negotiaters to the British.
Yeah, exactly. De Valera didn't join the delegates for the negotiations because he knew there was no chance that the British would grant the 32 county republic. He knew he would commit political suicide if he signed it.
The delegates were way too inexperienced. Collins used to get trapped, and he didnt realize because he just wasn't experienced enough. It was he who should have stayed in Ireland as a threat, and De Valera should have went to negotiate. Sir Lloyd George had said De Valera was VERY tough to negotiate with. Hell, on the british negotiating team was the prime minister, Lloyd George, obviously very experienced. Winston Churchill who was a very intelligent man and had a way for manipulating people with words. And Lord Birkenhead who was also very intelligent.

Michael Collins did get a very bad wrap. At the end of the day, the Free State was all they were going to get, at that point. And the ones that complained the most, De Valera and Cathal Brugha, were the very ones who refused to go to negotiate.

It all came down to De Valera's and Brugha's jealousy of Collins, though. When De Valera went to the United States in what proved to be a failed trip (and he left when the war v the black and tans and auxiliaries really begun, coincidence huh?). And then when he came back, Collins was running everything. De Valera wasn't very military smart and wasnt a fan of guerilla warfare, and felt that conventional warfare should be the tactics of the IRA. Collins knew that with the ammo and men they had, guerilla warfare was the only tactics that would work. When they did an attack by De Valera's thoughts, there was a great loss of life. I dont remember exactly how many, I'll get back on that one. And Brugha was always jealous that the minister for finance overshadow the apparent more "prominent" minster for defence.

But I'm ranting, I could talk about this all day, it's one of my favourite times in history.
Well it is refreshing to know that someone has as much passion about Irish history as I do. It's largely ignored by most people.

By my very nature, I'm a peaceful person but I still would've supported Collin's tactics. Just so long as innocents weren't hurt, I don't think anyone could possibly say that they were going the wrong way about things. The Black and Tans were commiting acts of barbarism much worse then the Ira's.

My respect for Winstin Churchhill kind of went down a bit when I heard about the tactics he used against the Irish. I suppose he had his own reasons, though theres no way I would've agreed with it.

By the way, is that Michael Collins in your sig?
Yeah it is, during his IRA days. He really changed a lot from the times of the Rising, and minister of finance.

Well a lot of the English tactics were questionable, but it's just the way the British are, and always have been. They conquer people, and have always been above other nations in their mind. You can even see it currently with their stance with the European Union and their refusal to use the Euro. Now I am no supporter of the EU, but most EU countries will see themselves as European citizens, while they are British citizens. Same with the Danes I guess, who still have their own currency.

The Black and Tans weren't half as bad as the Auxiliaries. The Auxiliaries were just on another level of barbarism. One of them, who was later named insane, killed a young retarded man and a 70 year old priest. Others killed a young mother and her child. They burned the city of Cork, not allowing the fire brigade to get anywhere near there. In the end their head officer had to quit because he just could not handle it. And before they came in, the Irish were generally on the side of the British. They knew they had Home Rule, and didn't understand the Rising (which would have been a major failure had it not been for the aftermath). They didn't even think independence, they just wanted it somewhat. But from the actions of the Black and tans and Auxiliaries public opinion did a complete u turn and that was when Michael COllins became incredibly popular.

By the way, if you've never seen The Treaty, it's a pretty good documentary. It's a dramatised show of the Treaty negotiations, and is quite accurate. Also the movie MIchael Collins, while some historical facts ommitted to make it more "Hollywood" - a pretty good movie.
Ah thanks for the recommendation. I've actually been looking for a good documentary on that. I've seen Michael Collins already. It had its moments but Julia Roberts cannot play an Irishwoman. She sounded like an american.

I just finished reading 1916 and 1921 by Morgan Llywelyn and soon I'm going to be reading 1945. It is kind of a history of the Irish struggle. I think she wrote one in 1972 also. Very good books, if you like that kinda thing. The main characters are made up but they are so believable that they interact extremely well with the main characters.
Haven't heard of those, but I'll probably check it out. I lose a little interest after 1925, without Collins and Griffith, and the downfall of Sinn Fein. And of course the credit Fianna Fail gets for getting independence, so de Valera gets all the praise. Le sigh.

Are you interested in any other times in Irish history?
Sort of. I'm branching out a bit more. I'm beginning to take an interest in ancient Ireland with people like Brian Boru. Going to have to see if I can find anything on him. I'm also into ancient literiture, as my name implies. Fion Mac Cumhail and Cuchulain etc.

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