RTÉ investigates the life of Michael Collins

An RTÉ documentary about Michael Collins has been published on YouTube and is attracting the interest of Irish historians from all around the world.

Michael McDowell investigates the life of the man some consider to be the ‘greatest Irishman of all time’, with all aspects of his life and character put under the microscope.

McDowell explains: “Like so many Irish men and women, Collins emigrated to London at the age of 16, in the decade that followed 1912-1922. He went from being a lumbering teenager to the powerhouse of Ireland’s revolution”

Determined to feel at home in London, Collins joined a local GAA club and soon became an important figure taking on the role of club secretary. McDowell said: “He wasn’t a particularly gifted footballer but he was big, stubborn and competitive. He was a good organiser and a bad loser and he wore his Irishness on his sleeve.”

Next, the documentary describes Collins’ progression from a junior soldier of the Easter Rising to a political and military leader. Much of this was thanks to his experiences in Frongoch prison along with hundreds of other Irish Republican Brotherhood volunteers.
The prison became known as the Sínn Féin University because of the links and plans for future rebellions made by the volunteer whilst imprisoned.

“If prison was a college for revolutionaries then Collins was to graduate top of the class. He put his time in prison to good use, adding to his contacts, increasing his influence and making people remember his name.”

The documentary also delves into the ruthless nature of Collins, including the assassination of a British agent who was getting close to discovering important IRA information during the War of Independence.

His relationship with Kitty Kiernan is also looked at, with the real problems and difficulties they would have faced investigated.
All aspects of Collins’ life are investigated throughout the documentary.

Ending with the rebellion he faced from his former comrades following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which ultimately led to his death in his home county of Cork in 1922.
Watch the documentary below.

Michael Collins – greatest Irishman who ever lived?

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