Monday 22 August 2022

The assassination of Michael Collins and a strange quirk of fate

100 years ago today, the Irish Republican leader Michael Collins was assassinated. Collins was a leading organiser of assassinations himself, but, in his own words, he signed his death warrant when he made a peace treaty with the British.

It sparked a vicious civil war in Ireland, and a group of anti-treaty fighters ambushed Collins in his native County Cork. When they opened fire on his car, one of Collins' comrades told the driver to 'drive like hell', but Collins ordered him to stop so they could fight it out, even though he was armed only with a rifle.

By a twist of fate, Collins' regular drivers were not with him that day. The Republican hero was known to be impetuous, and some believe if one of them had been at the wheel, they would have slammed a foot on the gas before pausing a few miles up the road to inquire of Collins: 'Sorry, what was that you were saying back there, chief?'

For more on Collins' assassination and many others, see my book Assassins' Deeds. A History of Assassination from Ancient Egypt to the Present Day. (Reaktion Books)

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