Michael Collins (1890-1922), was born in Clonakilty, Co. Cork. He was a member of Sinn Féin by 1908 and he joined the IRB in 1909. Collins strongly believed that Irish Independence could only be achieved by physical force
During the Easter Rising he was second in command in the General Post Office in Dublin. Following the Rising, Collins was interned in Frongoch prison camp in Wales. He was released in December 1916.
Collins appointed Minister of Home Affairs by the First Dail and in April 1919 Minister for Finance. He organised the Dáil loans, which financed the republicans’ government.
During the War of Independence (1919-1921), he organised the supply of weapons and developed a spy network. He also had a ‘Squad’, a group of assassins. On 21 November 1920, Collins’s Squad assassinated fourteen British officers. In reprisal, the Black and Tans fired on a crowd watching a football match at Croke Park. Twelve people were killed and the day became known as ‘Bloody Sunday’. Collins’s authority and influence were felt at every level of the national resistance movement.
A truce was finally agreed on 11 July 1921, and Collins was one of the Irish delegates to negotiate an Anglo-Irish Treaty. The Treaty was signed on the 6 December 1921. Collins considered the Treaty the only as a means towards obtaining a 32 county republic and signed it with ‘great reluctance’.
Following ratification of the Treaty the government split into pro-Treaty and anti-Treaty camps. A vicious civil war (1922-23) followed between the pro-Treaty Free State forces and the anti-Treaty group. Collins was Commander in Chief of the pro-Treaty army. On 22 August 1922 a convoy including Collins was ambushed at Béal na mBláth near Macroom in Co. Cork. He was shot in the head and died almost immediately. An estimated 300,000 people attended his funeral in Dublin.