There clearly seems to be a need for a definitive study on the
actual commencement of hostilities [in the Civil War ].
– John M Feehan
Did Michael Collins give the order to begin the bombardment of Four Courts? Historians have presumed so; but no more. There is no record of precisely who gave the order.
(Excerpts from the book:)
“We, the undersigned officers of the IRA, realising the gravity of the present situation in Ireland, and appreciating the fact that if the present drift is maintained a conflict of comrades is inevitable, declare that this would be the greatest calamity in Irish history, and would leave Ireland broken for generations…”
– “The Army Document” signed by Michael Collins and an
equal number of prominent pro- & anti-Treaty officers, 1922
The evidence casts considerable doubt as to whether the order to commence the artillery bombardment of Four Courts ever came from Collins himself…
The hindsight of history demonstrates that he was among the leaders who clearly foresaw just how terrible a disaster these hostilities would bring. Amidst all the trigger-happy factions, baying for blood at that juncture, in the Free State government, in London, and in anti-Treaty camps, Collins by far most strenuously and continually resisted giving battle…
As subsequent events proved, his judgement on this was excellent. It was that explosion of the Four Courts, which he was so keen to avoid, that set off the chain of events which, ultimately, took his own life … he outlived the first shells to hit Inns Quay, by only fifty-five days.
In this sense, the mysteries surrounding the bombardment of Four Courts are directly related to the death of Collins: who may with justice be called one of its first casualties.
“The Assassination of Michael Collins:
What Happened At Béal na mBláth?”
by S M Sigerson
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