Tim Pat Coogan – historian of 20th century Ireland

photo of Tim Pat Coogan at work (courtesy of independent.ie)

Tim Pat Coogan at work (courtesy of independent.ie)

Tim Pat Coogan is generally recognized as Ireland’s foremost writer on its modern history; encompassing both the Revolutionary Era 1913 – 1923, and subsequent Troubles which continued throughout the 20th century. Being the leading authority in Ireland, it’s safe to say that would make him the greatest authority in the world on these topics.

Recent notorious efforts by certain academics to challenge that supremacy added nothing to their dignity; but served only to affirm Coogan’s unassailable stature as an historian, and popularity with the public.

Coogan is uniquely qualified indeed to explore this terrain. In his capacity as a journalist, he has interviewed, over decades, practically every surviving major participant from the War of Independence and Civil War. His books are the product of vast, minute original research; drawn not only from archival documents, but also from numerous personal contacts. His own family members, who themselves took part in these conflicts, included his father, Eamonn Coogan, who was active in the War of Independence, and served as a deputy commissioner in the post-Civil War government. His mother was among very few women who wrote for the Evening Herald in the 1920s, and was also active in the legendary Abbey Theatre: a hotbed of revolutionary ferment at the time.

Coogan got his start with the Irish Press, rising to the editor’s chair, which he occupied from 1968 – 1987. Yet while owing so much to the DeValera family (Irish Press owners) still his treatment of the Collins-DeValera conflict demonstrates penetrating integrity and fairness. Subsequent writers are deeply indebted to him for his sterling research, and painstaking examination of that controversy.

His landmark 1990 biography of Michael Collins remains, at this writing, head and shoulders above all others. It stands alone in being an authoritative compendium of all previous work on Collins’ life.

The mighty labour of such a detailed, full-scale biography, might necessarily preclude an exhaustive examination of any one particular day, however important. For this reason, despite the awe-inspiring stature of Coogan’s work, this author has ventured to attempt to add something to his invaluable work, on that particular subject.

His very kind approbation of “The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth?” represents for this writer the zenith of all possible praise. So much the more generous, in that the book he commends is by no means entirely uncritical of his own conclusions on the same subject.

 

photo of Tim Pat Coogan

 

www.timpatcoogan.com

http://timpatcoogan.com/books.htm

 

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

Book cover image - The Assassination of Michael Collins - What Happened at Béal na mBláth

by S M Sigerson

Paperback or Kindle edition here:

www.amazon.com/dp/1493784714

All other e-reader formats:

www.smashwords.com/books/view/433954

Read reviews:

http://www.rabidreaders.com/2014/12/03/assassination-michael-collins-s-m-sigerson-2/

Or ask at your local book shop

Advertisements

2022 Michael Collins Centenary: What happened at Béal na mBláth?

photo of Michael Collins close-up in uniform 1922

 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?

The 1916 Rising was neither the beginning, nor the end of the movement for Irish independence; nor of the Revolutionary Era (whether counted from 1900 or 1913 through 1923.)

The Rising would always have significance 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, to carry on the cause of independence, in the amazing achievements of 1919-1922.

Ireland’s “Decade of Centenaries” has so much to explore, celebrate, remember, between now and 2022: the centenary of Michael Collins’ death.

The Rising Centenary has brought to light a wealth of original materials, records, testimony, which had long languished unexamined, inaccessible to the public. The study of this period has thereby been greatly enriched, on countless levels; which may never be understood in our lifetime.

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?

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.

Between now and 2022, we’ll have a chance to celebrate the achievements of those who survived the Rising: who raised the siege of 1919-1921, and forced the British to the negotiating table (a development they considered unthinkable in 1916.)

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.

To ponder his death and his life eternally…

Read more
The Assassination of Michael Collins:
What Happened At Béal na mBláth?”
by S M Sigerson
Book cover image - The Assassination of Michael Collins - What Happened at Béal na mBláth
Paperback or Kindle edition here:
www.amazon.com/dp/1493784714

All other e-reader formats:
www.smashwords.com/books/view/433954 

Read reviews: 
http://www.rabidreaders.com/2014/12/03/assassination-michael-collins-s-m-sigerson-2/ 

https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/the-assassination-of-michael-collins

Or ask at your local book shop

 

 

Michael Collins in the 1916 Rising

photo of Michael Collins as a young recruit 1916

Michael Collins as a young recruit 1916

Michael Collins is famous for his role in realizing what was “beyond our wildest dreams in 1916.”  Yet fewer are familiar with the part he played in the ill-fated Rising himself.

In 1906, shortly before his sixteenth birthday, Michael Collins took a job as a clerk in London, where an elder sister was already established.  Here he assuaged a keen homesickness for Ireland, by way of enthusiastic participation in London’s Irish community.  The Gaelic Athletics League, the Geraldines Hurling Club, ceilis, and friends from Cork helped create a welcoming social island in the British metropolis. Continuing to write, he presented papers at political societies which supported Irish independence; where he became known as “a Wolfe Tone republican” in his outlook.

By 1914 he was secretary to the London and Southeastern district  of the the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), a clandestine body organizing the struggle for independence. In April 1914, along with his cousin and close friend Sean Hurley, he enlisted with the London Brigade of the Irish Volunteers. When the Easter Rebellion of 1916 was in its planning stages, he and a number of his boyhood friends from home all volunteered together.

During the Easter Rising, Collins served as staff Captain and aide-de-camp to Joseph Plunkett, at the Rising’s headquarters in the General Post Office building (the “GPO”.) There he and his comrades underwent a crucible of fire. Hundreds of vastly outnumbered and out-gunned republicans held out against thousands of British troops, under brutal artillery bombardment, for a week. There, and in the Rising’s aftermath, he saw many of his mentors and closest friends lose their lives.

Following the Rising he was imprisoned with over a thousand others. The execution of the Rising’s leaders thrust young men like himself to the fore. As he boarded the boat with fellow prisoners, he was already discussing plans for “next time.” While still interned at the prison camp, he was instrumental in re-organizing the survivors: first in a campaign of non-cooperation with prison authorities.  Later planning the underground campaign, which would lead ultimately to Britain’s capitulation in 1921.

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

by S M Sigerson
Paperback or Kindle edition here:
www.amazon.com/dp/1493784714

All other e-reader formats:
www.smashwords.com/books/view/433954

Read reviews:
http://www.rabidreaders.com/2014/12/03/assassination-michael-collins-s-m-sigerson-2/
As a history and mystery buff I couldn’t help but keep reading..”

https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/the-assassination-of-michael-collins
“... a great read on a fascinating story …
The Assassination of Michael Collins is definitely a must-read if you have any interest in this period of Irish history, or any interest in Collins himself.”

Or ask at your local book shopAssassination of Michael Collins COVER

Wolfe Tone and Michael Collins

Respect our existence: or expect our resistance

picture of Wolfe Tone b&w profile

 

To subvert the tyranny of our execrable Government, to break the connection of England – the unfailing source of all our ills – and to assert the independence of my native country … these were my objects.”

 

 

MC portrait Triskel show

When Michael Collins quoted Wolfe Tone’s words, above, in a 1918 election speech, he knew they would be instantly recognized by his audience. That motto had formed the original seed and core of Ireland’s nationalist independence movement, of which Tone was the idealogical father.

This uncompromising call to action had an impact equivalent to Malcolm X’s pithy summation, over a century later,
“… by any means necessary.”

It was a line drawn in the sand: political change would no longer be a mere debating point.  It was a question of survival.  It was a seizure of the moral high ground, and the right to defend it; in arms if need be.  From this point on, the evil of violent conflict might be considered by nationalists as lesser than the evil of continuing under a regime with genocidal consequences.

Collins’ connection with Tone was not merely rhetorical.  He grew up among those who had fought in the Fenian rising of 1867, and whose grandfathers had risen with Tone and Lord Edward Fitzgerald in 1798.  Collins’ own father had received his education surreptitiously, before the repeal of the Penal Laws; from a cousin, a hedge school master, who had been a school friend of Tone’s.

Tone helped bring Irish politics intellectually out of feudalism, and into the age of modern republicanism.  Along with other thinkers and doers of the 18th century Enlightenment, he promulgated the idea of a democratic society based on universal human rights, and the consent of the governed.

In 1798, the concept of government by and for the people challenged the age-old order of things.  In previous centuries, people had frequently risen up en masse against tyranny and injustice.  But once risen, had nowhere to go; except to choose between one lord or the other, one king or the other.

Human rights and democracy are ideas which many have the happiness to take for granted now.  Even while, in some parts of the world, they remain very much at issue.

We have also lived to see the flaws in democratic systems.  In two centuries of popular insurrections, and the establishment of modern republics, many things have changed.  And many things have not changed.

Yet there is still much to learn from the thinkers and doers for social justice who’ve gone before.  And from their fate.

Wolfe Tone was taken prisoner in the 1798 rebellion, and died in a British prison.  Michael Collins was shot to death under suspicious circumstances; at the close of a war with England, which could with justice be called a continuation and consummation of what Tone began in 1798.  Both their promising careers were cut off in the bloom of young manhood.  Under current Irish law, too young to run for president.

Both have left an undying legacy of courage, innovation, ideas, writings, achievements, which continue to inspire present and future generations.

*****

Why revolution? Why democracy? See previous post:
Revolution and Democracy
https://collinsassassination.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/revolution-and-democracy/

Read more:
“The Assassination of Michael Collins:
What Happened At Béal na mBláth?”
by S M Sigerson
Paperback or Kindle edition here:

www.amazon.com/dp/1493784714
For all other e-reader formats:
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/433954

Or ask at your local bookshop

Book Cover - The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth?

Michael Collins: The real meaning of the 1916 Rising

1916 Proclamation heading close-up

How Ireland Made Her Case Clear

Following are excerpts from Michael Collins’ own writings on 1916 and the struggle for Irish freedom

“The period from 1914 to 1918 is an important one in the struggle for Irish freedom.  It was a transition period.  It saw a wholesome & necessary departure from the ideas and methods which had been held & adopted for a generation, and it is a period which is misread by a great many of our people, even by some who helped that departure, and who helped to win the success we have achieved.

“The real importance of the Rising of 1916 did not  become apparent until 1918.  It is not correct to say now that the assertion of the republican principle which was stated by the leaders of the Rising was upheld as the national policy without a break.  The declaration of a Republic was really in advance of national thought, and it was only after a period of two years’ propaganda that we were actually able to get solidarity on the idea.

“The European War, which began in 1914, is now generally recognised to have been a war between two rival empires…Germany spoke frankly of her need for expansion, and for new fields of enterprise for her surplus population.  England, who likes to fight under a high-sounding title, got her opportunity in the invasion of Belgium.  She was entering the war ‘in defence of the freedom of small nationalities.

“America at first looked on, but she accepted the motive in good faith, and she ultimately joined in … ‘Shall,’ asked President Wilson, ‘the military power of any nation … be suffered to determine the fortunes of peoples over whom they have no right to rule except the right of force?

“But the most flagrant instance of the violation of this principle did not seem to strike … President Wilson, and he led the American nation – peopled so largely by Irish men & women who had fled from British oppression – into the battle and to the side of that nation which for hundreds of years had determined the fortunes of the Irish people against their wish, and had ruled them, and was still ruling them, by no other right than the right of force.

“There were created by the Allied Powers half-a-dozen new Republics as a demonstration of adherence to these principles.  At the same time, England’s military subjection of Ireland continued.  And Ireland was a nation with claims as strong as, or stronger than, those of the other small nations.

This subjugation constituted a mockery of those principles, yet the expression of them before the world as principles for which great nations were willing to pour out their  blood and treasure gave us the opportunity to raise again our flag of freedom and to call the attention of the world to the denial of our claim.

“We were not pro-German during the war any more than we were pro-Bulgarian, pro-Turk, or anti-French.  We were anti-British, pursuing our age-long policy against the common enemy.  Not only was this our policy, but it was the policy that any weak nation would have pursued in the same circumstances…

“We remembered that England’s difficulty was Ireland’s opportunity, and we took advantage of her engagement elsewhere to make a bid for freedom.  The odds between us were for the moment a little less unequal… We had made common cause with France when France was fighting England.  We made common cause with Spain when Spain was fighting England.  We made common cause with the Dutch when the Dutch were fighting England…

“Our position was our old position.  Our aim was our old aim.  Our intention was simply to secure liberation from the English occupation …

“The Rising expressed our right to freedom.  It expressed our determination to have the same liberty of choice in regard to our own destinies as was conceded to Poland or Czecho-Slovakia, or any other of the nations that were emerging as a result of the new doctrines being preached…

Our claim was to govern ourselves … It was a gesture to the world that there could be no confusion about. It was an emphasis of our separate nationhood and a declaration that our ultimate goal was and would continue to be complete independence...

“We were to learn that freedom was to be secured by traveling along a different road … that it was [the English] presence alone which denied it to us, and we must make that presence uncomfortable for them, and that the only question between us and them was the terms on which they would clear out and cease their interference with us.”

 Read more
Path to Freedom cover image
The Path to Freedom
by Michael Collins
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/157332.A_Path_to_Freedom

 

 

Book Cover - The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth?

 

 

The Assassination of Michael Collins:
What Happened At Béal na mBláth?
by S M Sigerson
Paperback or Kindle edition here:
www.amazon.com/dp/1493784714

All other e-reader formats:
www.smashwords.com/books/view/433954

Best Reads of the year – Rabid Readers Reviews
http://www.rabidreaders.com/2015/01/05/best-rabid-readers-reviews-reads-of-2014/

Customer reviews:
http://goo.gl/sDmWfh

Or ask at your local book shop

21 January: The First Dáil & War of Independence

This gallery contains 1 photo.

On this date in 1919, Dáil na hÉireann, Ireland’s national legislature, met for the first time, as an outlawed body, in defiance of the British imperial establishment.  Michael Collins represented Cork South in the First Dáil; while also taking part in organizing the armed campaign for self-determination. (Excerpts from the book:) “On the day of […]