The Assassination of Michael Collins: Which ones lied?

photo of Cork Flying Column

Cork Flying Column

There are a number of reasons why Michael Collins’ death continues to be viewed by many as suspicious and unsolved. The most obvious is the eye-witness testimony: no two witnesses’ statements are alike. Each and every one contradicts the others.

Having enjoyed the honor to be both quoted, and flagrantly misquoted, in a recent work on the topic, the author of the book “The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth?” offers the following excerpts of what it actually says:

“Well, here you have a fair collection of statements from eyewitnesses, each contradicting the other on vital and significant points, and none of which can be accepted as a completely reliable version.”     – John M Feehan

Some observations we can make with confidence at this point:

1) Not all these inconsistencies can be attributed to the lapse of time, differences of photo of gathering at Beal na mBlath day after death of Collinsperspective, or even carelessness. That is to say:

2) They cannot all be telling the truth, Which is to say:

3) Some of them were lying.

These answers, as answers often do, raise questions:

photo of John Mcpeak 4) Which one(s) lied?

5) Why did they lie?

6) Did some have more reason to lie than others?

7) If two mutually negating points are both corroborated by more than one witness, how can we tell which is correct? (i.e. The convoy came under machine gun fire; the convoy did not come under machine gun fire.)

8) Can we decipher the answers to these questions from the information before us?

photo of Emmet Dalton

Emmet Dalton

If we compare all the testimony’s various contradictions and corroborations, in light of the possible interests and pressures at work in each case, we may separate out some chaff: Which witnesses have adhered only to facts which

were within their own knowledge? Which ones report events which happened when they were not present? Does the statement demonstrate that they were “coached” as to what to say? Did some deponents have reason to lie? Did some others have less reason? Do they stray so far from verifiable facts as to invalidate their testimony altogether?

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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 - Cover Image
by S M Sigerson

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The Assassination of Sir Henry Wilson


Sir Henry Wilson in 1921

Sir Henry Wilson in 1921

On 22 June 1922, Sir Henry Wilson was assassinated in broad daylight, in front of his own home in London: Field Marshall, Unionist MP for Ulster, former Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS). He’d played a prominent role in the Curragh Mutiny Following creation of an Irish government in Dublin, Wilson became chief military adviser to Anglo Ascendancy forces in the then-new Northern Ireland statelet. Atrocities and undeclared war on Irish Catholics became the order of the day there.

The book “The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBlath?” devotes a full chapter to re-examining Wilson’s enigmatic death.  Was there a connection with Collins’ own end, exactly two months later?

(excerpt from the book)

I was given good reason to suspect a close relation between the shooting of Sir Henry Wilson and the shooting of Michael Collins, but when I tried to investigate this line I found every door closed on me – indeed some banged in my face.
– John M Feehan

Not unlike Collins’ own end, controversy continues to surround the assassination of Sir Henry Wilson. At the very same time that the anti-Treaty men were sweating it out in the Four Courts, two members of the London IRA shot Wilson dead, on the doorstep of his home in London, in broad daylight. This was months after hostilities with the British were officially ended: after the Truce, after the Treaty had been signed; “out of the blue” as it seemed.

The shooters were obeying orders. But from whom? Who gave the order? The mystery has never been solved.

Allegations that either Collins or the anti-Treaty leaders ordered the operation do not hold water: these amount to no more than rumour, and are abundantly refuted by more substantial accounts. Yet Wilson was unquestionably shot by members of the London Brigade of the IRA.

Wilson’s death was seized upon and exploited as a pretext for the British to threaten to declare the imperfect-but- hard-won Anglo-Irish Treaty null and void.  In short, it set in motion those events which led directly to the death of Michael Collins. For these reasons, any re-examination of Béal na mBláth should not omit another look at Wilson’s mysterious, unsolved case.
** [end book excerpt]**

Much mythology has been constructed, on rather slender presumptions: 1) that Michael Collins ordered Wilson’s death; 2) that Collins likewise ordered the bombardment of IRA men occupying the Four Courts; and 3) that the IRA shot Collins.  This conventional wisdom would seem to wrap things up in a tidy package, with loose ends neatly tied.  

However, there is no evidence that Collins ordered the 1922 assassination of Wilson.  No one knows precisely how the bombardment of Four Courts was initiated, or by whom.  As for the perennial mystery, “Who shot Collins?“… We don’t even know which side shot him.

.  Read more:

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

Paperback or Kindle edition here:

For all other e-book formats see:

Or ask at your local bookshop

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

Paperback now available online!

Buy the Paperback at:
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“The Assassination of Michael Collins
What Happened At B
éal na mBláth?”

by SM Sigerson

This is the first book dedicated to this famous “cold case” since John Feehan’s landmark study of 1981. It presents the most complete overview of the evidence ever published; as well as an itemized catalogue of the various witnesses’ mutual contradictions and corroborations.