“Crime of the century” is an expression which has been too often exploited by sensationalist commentators. Yet Collins’ martyrdom was indeed one of history’s defining moments, at the dawn of the turbulent 20th century. It was a particular type of political tragedy: one which the following decades would see replayed over and over again, throughout the world. It bore many factors in common with the fate of other great leaders. It could be called one of the opening salvos, in the sort of national and international conflicts which would define the era. In this sense, it may also be seen as a kind of skeleton key: a deeper understanding of which may unlock riddles in other cases like his.