Michael Collins’ 2022 Centenary will offer unprecedented opportunities to examine, celebrate, and reflect on the meaning of his life and death.
How should it be observed?
Ireland’s “Decade of Centenaries” marches on, with much to explore, celebrate, and remember; ultimately culminating in 2022: the 100th anniversary of Collins’ death.
The 2016 Rising Centenary brought to light a wealth of original materials, records, testimony, which had long languished unexamined, inaccessible to the public. It opened a vast, new, fertile debate in Ireland, on the Rising’s meaning, causes, effects. How successful was that revolution? Is Ireland truly independent today? Has it ever been? Can Ireland yet be called independent while the UK still claims dominion over six counties in the North? Was violent conflict unavoidable? Did taking down the Union Jack & raising the Tricolor, as James Connolly warned us, in itself, solve none of Ireland’s problems?
The study of this period has thereby been greatly enriched, on countless levels; which may never be understood in our lifetime.
The Rising, while it was neither the beginning nor the end of the Revolutionary Era, would always be important in itself, even if it were a stand-alone event.
Its greatest significance, however, is in those who survived it: who went forth from it to organize and carry on the cause of independence, in the amazing achievements of 1919-1921 (The War of Independence / Tan War.)
In this there is much to be learned: about what happened to the dream and promise of the 1916 Proclamation, and those who fought for it.
These are questions still debated today. Most of us, inside & outside of Ireland, recognize the establishment of the Dáil & Dublin government, the conclusive departure of the British Army and British colonial administration from 26 of 32 counties, as a tremendous achievement; as Collins (a Rising veteran) himself said, “…beyond our wildest dreams in 1916.”
Most are likewise painfuly aware that the unfinished business of Irish independence, whether behind a northern border, or in the corridors of Dublin government, is the challenging legacy left for this and future generations to resolve. wp.me/p43KWx-9z
Between now and 2022, we’ll have a chance to celebrate the achievements of those who survived the Rising: to raise the siege which forced the British to the negotiating table (a development considered unthinkable in 1916.)
In the big picture of Michael Collins & his story, 2022 is not merely a once-in-a-lifetime chance. It’s not only the chance of a century. His 100th anniversary will happen just once ever, period. One time only will this particular, most uncommon generation gather for a new in-depth review of his life & death, from this unique vantage point: when the smoke of those conflicts is just clearing, while his deeds still ring in living memory, among generations who were reared by those who knew him personally. Generations who have been revolutionary, in their own ways. In short, perhaps better equipped to discover, explore, understand what happened to him; with a vital role to play, which no future generation might be able for.
To ponder his death and his life eternally
Now is the time to fulfill two fundamental needs, which have inhibited our understanding of Collins, and of Ireland’s history:
– a complete, authoritative catalogue of all his writings and correspondence; and
– a forensic examination of his remains: to right the wrong done by the 1922 Dublin governement’s failure, neglect, and refusal to hold an enquiry into his death.
Short of a united Ireland, what better way to honour his memory?
“The Assassination of Michael Collins:
What Happened At Béal na mBláth?”
by S M Sigerson
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