Michael Collins was an Irish rebel, soldier, and politician who was a key participant in the early twentieth century’s campaign for Irish independence. During his 10 years in London, he became linked with radical Irish national politics, particularly the “Irish Republican Brotherhood,” a secret club dedicated to the establishment of a “independent democratic republic” in Ireland. From November 1920 until his death, he served as President. He was named Minister for Finance to the Aireacht (minister) in ‘Dáil Éireann’ after being a prominent member of the ‘First Dáil’. Collins became the ‘Irish Republican Army’ (IRADirector )’s of Organization and Arms Procurement, as well as Director of Intelligence, after the Irish Republic was declared by ‘Dáil Éireann.’ During the IRA’s guerrilla warfare, he was a key figure, and he also managed to disrupt the British intelligence system in Ireland. He was a member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty discussions in December 1921, which resulted in the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which established the Irish Free State. Following that, he served as Commander-in-Chief of the National Army and Chairman of the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State before being killed by hardline republicans during the ‘Irish Civil War’ in August 1922.
Early Years and Childhood
Although several sources list October 16, 1890 as his birthday, his tombstone lists October 12, 1890 as his birthday. In Woodfield, Sam’s Cross (now ‘Michael Collins Birthplace’), County Cork, Ireland, he was born as the youngest child and third son of Michael John and Mary Anne O’Brien.
His father was an IRB member and a farmer. In fact, his family has republican roots dating back to the 1798 uprising.
Collins, a bright and perceptive young man, had an embedded sense of Irish nationalism from infancy. Local blacksmith James Santry, whose family was involved in the 1798, 1848, and 1867 rebellions, and his Lisavaird National School headmaster Denis Lyons, an IRB member, were his inspirations.
He lived with his sister Margaret and her better-half Patrick O’Driscoll at ‘Clonakilty National School’ from the age of thirteen. He helped O’Driscoll, the creator of the publication ‘The West Cork People,’ with reporting and other media work.
He took the British Civil Service exam in Cork in February 1906 and then moved to London to live with his older sister Hannie. He began working for Blythe House Post Office Savings Bank from there.
In London, he worked as a messenger for ‘Home and Company’ in 1910. In the meantime, he was a student at King’s College London, where he studied law.
In his youth, republican Sam Maguire introduced him to the IRB. In 1915, he began working for the New York-based Guaranty Trust Company. He returned to Ireland the next year to work part-time for ‘Craig Gardiner & Co.’
He served as aide-de-camp to Joseph Mary Plunkett (a member of the IRB Military Committee responsible for organizing military insurgency) at the Dublin GPO, which remained the leaders’ headquarters, during the ‘Easter Rising’ that began on Easter Monday in April 1916 in Ireland.
He was held in the Frongoch detention camp in Wales with hundreds of others until being freed in December 1916 with other Frongoch prisoners. He rose through the ranks of the independence movement to become a significant figure.
Following his release, he was appointed Secretary of the ‘National Aid and Volunteers Dependents Fund’ (NAVDF), and he was given access to a wealth of confidential information and contacts.
He became a member of the executive of Arthur Griffith’s Sinn Féin organization in late 1917. This group’s principal goal was to bring together various factions fighting for Irish independence.
Sinn Féin won 73 of Ireland’s 105 seats in the 1918 general elections.
On January 21, 1919, Sinn Féin’s elected candidates refused to recognize the United Kingdom’s Parliament and instead established a revolutionary, unicameral parliament of the Irish Republic known as ‘Dáil Éireann.’ On that day, the First Dáil was established, and the Irish War of Independence began.
Collins, a Sinn Féin MP for Cork South, was appointed Minister of Finance in 1919 by Éamon de Valera, the President of Dáil Éireann, who was elected president of Sinn Féin in 1917.
Collins became President of the IRB and Director of Intelligence of the IRA, Ireland’s recognized armed force, in September 1919. He also served as Adjutant General and Director of Volunteer Organization.
In response to British attempts to suppress the Irish republican movement, he directed IRA guerrilla warfare and created ‘The Squad,’ a dedicated unit to kill British agents and informers, effectively crippling the British intelligence system in Ireland and replacing it with a powerful Irish network.
In July 1921, the British agreed to a cease-fire. Collins led the Irish delegation to the London peace conference that resulted in the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which was signed on December 6, 1921.
The pact led to the formation of the Irish Free State, with six northern counties, mostly Unionist, opting to remain under the Crown and outside the Free State. However, by that time, the republican movement had split into those who opposed the pact and those who supported it.
The Provisional Government of Ireland assumed office on January 16, 1922, and Collins was appointed Chairman of the Provisional Government Cabinet while continuing to serve as Finance Minister.
On April 14, 1922, 200 Anti-Treaty IRA militants commanded by Rory O’Connor stormed Four Courts and other buildings in central Dublin in the hopes of reigniting military warfare with the British.
Collins ordered artillery shells to be fired at the courts to drive out members of the Anti-Treaty IRA, signaling the start of the Irish Civil War. He resigned as Chairman of the Provisional Government in July 1922 to take over as Commander-in-Chief of the National Army.
Later, he attempted to launch peace discussions in order to re-unite the noble forces fighting for Irish independence through dialogue; however, his killing in an ambush by Anti-Treaty troops in County Cork on August 22, 1922, as well as Griffith’s death, put an end to such Free State attempts.
Personal History and Legacy
He was betrothed to Kitty Kiernan circa 1921-22, and the two planned to marry in November 1922, but Collins was assassinated several months before.
Thousands of people attended his burial service, which was held at Dublin’s Pro Cathedral in the presence of various Irish and foreign leaders. His burial is located in Dublin, Ireland’s ‘Glasnevin Cemetery.’
Estimated Net Worth
Michael Collins is one of the wealthiest astronauts and one of the most well-known astronauts. Michael Collins’ net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.