Easter 1916: The struggle continues


In commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising, some excerpts from
“The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth?”


From Chapter 20
Revolution: Don’t Try This at Home


It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority.  –  Samuel Adams


… Ireland’s Proclamation of 1916 or America’s Declaration of Independence … are national treasures. They represent our highest values; our highest collective “self”, if you will. They may be the moral keystones of our national identity. And … but … they are not the whole story of who we are.

Such a proclamation or declaration may be the crest of a great tsunami of social change, which has been swelling beneath the waves for generations. It’s not the “happily ever after.” It’s not the end of the story by any means. It’s just the beginning. It’s a gauntlet thrown down on the bloody pages of history. Corrupt this. In a sense, it’s a declaration of war.

If nationhood is what happens after the proclamation, then the story of Michael Collins may be called a microcosm, even a skeleton key, if you will, of what follows.

Adulthood, for an individual, entails clearly seeing and accepting one’s own faults and weaknesses, as well as one’s strengths. Similarly for the adulthood of a nation: Doesn’t it mean facing the ugly facts of history, along with the heroic inspiration?

… So modern republics celebrate their founding revolutions, and canonize revolutionary leaders. But kids, don’t try this at home. Revolution is always a gamble, of the highest stakes possible. Its outcome can be “more unpredictable than the results of a first-rate European war.” 1 The “good guys” don’t always win. Overturning an entrenched, abusive regime often means the shattering of social orders. Thus ripping the fabric of society opens the door to change: for better or worse. It can invigorate society with new ideas and opportunities; and/or expose it to opportunists and backlash, very far from the aims of idealistic insurgents.

… The assassination of great popular leaders, at a key cresting pinnacle of the monumental social upheaval which had brought them to prominence, in which they are the man of the hour … is one of the terrible tragedies common in revolution. Assassinations often occur in the context of such great convulsions, when the institutions of society are in flux. Under such conditions, suspects are many, circumstances are complicated, and mutating in unprecedented ways as the situation unfolds.

… These are risks not to be undertaken lightly. Neither can any lunatic fringe jump-start such changes. The leaders themselves are often very much taken by surprise.


Two kinds of courage enabled the nation to struggle out of bondage – the patient, enduring courage that willed survival in the long years of defeat; and the flashing, buoyant courage that struck manfully, challenging fortune. 2


Revolutions are born, not made. A movement for political change which has lain dormant underground for years, decades or centuries may, like in Ireland, suddenly rear up, and sweep all before it. Their greatest leaders don’t so much choose the time, as recognize, and seize it.


(1)   George Bernard Shaw

(2)   Florence O’Donoghue


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

by S M Sigerson

Paperback or Kindle edition here: 

“Michael Collins, a Musical Drama” at Kilkenny Musical Society


MCmusical2 MCmusical3

Collins’ life and times have everything that makes for great theatre of operatic proportions: love, war, heroism, villainy, high tragedy, ultimate triumph, and a cast of thousands.

Yet what librettist today would ever have the political saavy to tackle the complex and delicate issues of Collins’ story? What composer would be equal to rendering the epic nature of Ireland’s struggle for independence? No one, you might say …

Well, I have seen the musical. And it is that good.

Think “Les Miz” meets the Neal Jordan film. Above all, they get the story right. Or we should say he got it right: the show is entirely written by one Brian Flynn, who can hold his head up among both Collins aficanados and the best composers today. The music is hot and infectious. It ranges from the mysterious ambient to hopping latin-afro-celtic. Vocal solos, duets, trios and choruses of ravishing beauty and power just keep coming, throughout the evening.

“Michael Collins – A Musical Drama”
by Brian Flynn

Performances through Saturday 12 April
8 PM Tickets €12 – €18

Watergate Theatre
Parliament Street
Kilkenny, County Kilkenny
353 56 7761674
Presented by Kilkenny Musical Society

Soundtrack album on iTunes:

The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened At Béal na mBláth?
by SM Sigerson


See photos from the original cast production:




Cumann na mBan and Michael Collins: friends and foes?

ImageWomen who took part in the 1916 Easter Rising


2 April 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of Cumann na mBan, the “Women’s Association” of the Irish Volunteers; who took on the British Empire to win self-determination for Ireland, during the War of Independence, 1919 – 1921. 


Michael Collins was noted for his close working relationships with some of the most valiant and remarkable women of the War of Independence. They played a prominent role in his intelligence corps. Ireland owed much of her success in that war to their unique capacities to infiltrate and operate unnoticed behind enemy lines, on highly sensitive, dangerous missions.


Yet, in the split over the Treaty, which led to his death, Collins found himself surprisingly at odds with Cumann an mBan.   As discussed in this excerpt from “The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal an mBláth?“:


During this epoch-making period for women, their full participation in politics was still quite controversial. In Europe and the US, women’s right to vote was then still at issue, or only recently won. . . . There was an onus upon them never to be seen to lag behind, never to appear “soft” on hot topics. Thus the women took the “hard” line: Cumann na mBan “practically unanimously” opposed the Treaty.


The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth?
Paperback or Kindle edition here:
www.amazon.com/Assassination-Michael-Collins-Happened-mBláth/dp/1493784714 Continue reading