The Curragh Mutiny: 100 years ago this week

The Curragh Mutiny was a major turning point in the struggle for Irish independence. 

“Home Rule”, a measure of increased self-determination for Ireland, had been pressed for in the British Parliament for decades.   As it seemed on the brink of fulfillment, there arose the prospect of violent resistance to Home Rule by unionists in the northeast of the country.  This in turn meant that the British Army might be required to enforce Irish self-determination, against violent factions who wanted direct rule from London. 

In the Curragh Mutiny, a number of British Army officers declared that they would resign, if ordered to use force against unionist paramilitaries. 

It was a major disaster for the British government, and for Home Rule.  It ultimately meant the defeat of efforts to win Irish independence by peaceful, constitutional means: and so set the stage for the War of Independence. 

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.”  – John F Kennedy

What has the Curragh Mutiny to do with the death of Collins?
A chapter in the new book “
The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth?”  re-examines events leading up to Collins’ death, and linked to the Mutiny.  

Paperback or Kindle e-book:áth/dp/1493784714

Read more about the Curragh Mutiny:

The Riddle that was Erskine Childers


Excerpts from

“The Assassination of Michael Collins:
What Happened at Béal na mBláth?”

      Erskine Childers’ tragic fate has remained an enigma
      Was he a hero? Martyr? Traitor? Casualty of war?
      One thing is certain: he was near the scene when Collins was killed.


“Another prominent member of the anti-Treaty party who was near Béal na mBláth that day was Erskine Childers.

“… Childers’ contemporaries varied widely in their assessment of the man. From the usually mild-mannered Arthur Griffith, he drew more than one explosion of public denunciation. … Others openly lauded Childers as a man of outstanding noble qualities.

 “…There seems something remarkable in Collins’ own attitude to this enigmatic figure. During the Civil War, … [when] British sources advocated [charging Childers with] treason … Collins said to keep [him] in England on a misdemeanor. If carried out, this plan would not only have neutralized him as a threat, but would also have preserved Childers’ life until the Civil War was over. …

“. . . If the absolute fact lies somewhere between these extremes and unsolved riddles . . . and if he was near Béal na mBláth around 22 August 1922, . . . He certainly may have known something about workings behind the scenes on that tragic day.

“Childers was a key anti-Treaty tactician. … He was a decorated former British Army officer, accused as a secret service agent, and certainly had excellent connections in London. … even if entirely innocent of any foreknowledge about the attempt on Collins, he was likely to have a penetrating awareness of many details and secret manoeuvers, which have since been lost forever.

 “… Childers was an elected member of the Dáil. His shocking summary execution took place against a backdrop of bloody purge, cover-up and file-burning. In light of all of the above, we should ask whether his killing could have had anything to do with his inside knowledge about what happened at and around Béal naBláth.”

You can get the book here:


Kindle edition:

Correction: PAPERBACK Back Online today

Apologies to anyone who had difficulty ordering the paperback in the last two weeks.

It’s just been discovered that, due to a technical glitch, the paperback was listed as “unavailable” since March 1.

This has been corrected.  The paperback is back online now at

There may be a few days’ delay before it shows as back in stock on amazon.

Once again, sorry for any inconvenience.

(The Kindle e-book edition has always been available, and is not affected.)

Kathleen Clarke and Michael Collins


The new documentary “Votaí do Mhná” explores connections between the women’s suffrage movement and the Irish independence struggle.  But excuse me . . . You missed a spot

As we wade into Ireland’s commemorative decade 2013 – 2023, it’s refreshing to see more of something TG4 does best: historical documentaries about this tumultuous period.

1913 – 1923 was a time of intense ferment, all over the world,  on all fronts: political, cultural, social.  Yet it’s sometimes less appreciated now, than the overpowering 30s, 40s, 50s & 60s which tumbled in on its heels.

Women’s suffrage and Irish independence
A powerful women’s movement played a central role in the general unrest.  Women’s fight for the right to vote raised profound questions about gender roles, at the very heart of society.  Those rigid roles were being aggressively assailed by highly competent women everywhere, opening more professions to females than ever before.

As noted in this must-see documentary, the 1916 Proclamation’s opening salutation to “Irish men and Irish women” was a milestone.  It was perhaps the first instance of explicitly gender-inclusive language, in a major political manifesto of its kind.  While a credit to the organizers & authors, it was also a sign of the times: anyone hoping to succeed at organizing progressive forces, had to show solidarity on women’s issues.

This is the political environment which produced Michael Collins.  It was his home town.  Having grown up on a farm, where his widowed mother handled much of the work, and most of the management, he didn’t need anyone to explain the concept of gender equality.

After the revolution
Yet what happened after independence, . . . proved problematic; for women of the struggle, as well as for Collins.   “Votaí do Mhná”  reviews how women fared in the new state: whether those who’d fought for freedom, those with the talent, experience and ideas, got equal opportunity and equal voice in re-shaping Irish society.

There are many examples of the tragic waste, even stifling, of such talent, by what became the Dublin establishment. Not all of them are detailed in this documentary.

Kathleen Clarke
However, it errs in one reference to Kathleen Clarke, widow of Thomas Clarke, first signatory to the Proclamation. One commentator declares that Mrs. Clarke was kept out of public office, by “the machinations of Michael Collins.”

Mrs. Clarke was hardly kept out of office by anyone. She served the public, in a long and illustrious career, on Dublin Corporation Council, on numerous municipal boards and hospital boards.  In the first republican courts, during the War of Independence, she served as a judge; and played a leading role in the formation of Ireland’s court system; for which she was ultimately awarded an honorary Doctorate of Law by the National University of Ireland.  She held office as a Senator, as a TD, and was the first woman Lord Mayor of Dublin.

In her memoires, she certainly gives some fascinating accounts of “machinations” which at times seemed aimed at obstructing her political role. Michael Collins is nowhere mentioned by her in connection with them.  She does name Harry Boland, Richard Mulcahy, and E DeValera in some of these instances.

Kathleen Clarke and Michael Collins
Collins was in fact Mrs. Clarke’s chosen protegé.  It was she who invested him, in a sense, with Tom Clarke’s mantle: She appointed him to take charge of re-organizing the Volunteers, after the Rising.  Speaking of her first interview with him, shortly after his post-Rising release, she wrote:  “I decided he was just the man I had been hoping for … and also reminded me in many ways of Sean MacDermott.  … With his forceful personality, his wonderful magnetism and his organising ability …

She goes on to explain that the secret “database” (so to speak) of the Rising, which had been placed in her keeping by Tom Clarke, was then entrusted by her to Collins.  “He agreed with my idea that the fight for freedom must be continued, the Rising to count as the first blow.

I can find in Mrs. Clarke’s work no expression of resentment nor of any moral disapprobation toward Collins; even after the Treaty controversy placed them on opposite sides.  On the contrary, speaking at a meeting of anti-Treaty supporters, she was dismayed when some in the audience hissed when his name was mentioned.  “This shocked me, and I stopped and said, ‘I do not like that. … I did not agree with him on the question of the Treaty but … No, Mick Collins was no traitor”  **

(**  Quotations are from “Revolutionary Woman” by Kathleen Clarke)

Assassination of Michael Collins COVERFind further incisive analysis
of this historical period in: 

The Assassination
of Michael Collins
(What Happened At Béal na mBláth?)
by S M Sigerson

Paperback or Kindle edition here:

All other e-reader formats:

Read reviews:

Or ask at your local book shop
Cover image of Revolutionary Woman by Kathleen Clarke

Revolutionary Woman
the autobiography of Kathleen Clarke:


Cover image of No Ordinary Women by Sinead McCoole

No Ordinary Women
(Irish Female Activists in the
Revolutionary Years 1900 – 1923)

by Sinead McCoole