Michael Collins (Irish: Mícheál Ó Coileáin;[1] 16 October 1890 – 22 August 1922) was an Irish revolutionary, soldier and politician who was a leading figure in the early-20th century struggle for Irish independence.[2] During the War of Independence he was Director of Intelligence of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and a government minister of the self-declared Irish Republic. He was then Chairman of the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State from January 1922 and commander-in-chief of the National Army from July until his death in an ambush in August 1922, during the Civil War.

Quick facts: Michael Collins, Chairman of the Provisional ...
Michael Collins
Mícheál Ó Coileáin
Collins as Minister for Finance in 1920
Chairman of the Provisional Government
In office
16 January  22 August 1922
Preceded byOffice created
Succeeded byW. T. Cosgrave
Minister for Finance
In office
2 April 1919  22 August 1922
Preceded byEoin MacNeill
Succeeded byW. T. Cosgrave
Minister for Home Affairs
In office
22 January  1 April 1919
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byArthur Griffith
Teachta Dála
In office
May 1921  August 1922
Constituency
In office
December 1918  May 1921
ConstituencyCork South
President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood
In office
November 1920  22 August 1922
Preceded byPatrick Moylett
Succeeded byRichard Mulcahy
Personal details
Born(1890-10-16)16 October 1890
Woodfield, Kilkerranmore, County Cork, Ireland
Died22 August 1922(1922-08-22) (aged 31)
Béal na Bláth, County Cork, Ireland
Resting placeGlasnevin Cemetery
Political partySinn Féin (pro-treaty faction)
Relatives
Signature
NicknameThe Big Fellow
Military service
Allegiance
Years of service1909–1922
RankGeneral
Battles/wars
Close

Collins was born in Woodfield, County Cork, the youngest of eight children. He moved to London in 1906 to become a clerk in the Post Office Savings Bank at Blythe House. He was a member of the London GAA, through which he became associated with the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Gaelic League. He returned to Ireland in January 1916 and fought in the Easter Rising. He was taken prisoner and held in the Frongoch internment camp as a prisoner of war, but he was released in December 1916.

Collins subsequently rose through the ranks of the Irish Volunteers and Sinn Féin. He was elected as a Teachta Dála for South Cork in December 1918. Sinn Féin's elected members formed an Irish parliament, the First Dáil, in January 1919 and declared the independence of the Irish Republic. Collins was appointed Minister for Finance. In the ensuing War of Independence, he was Director of Organisation and Adjutant General for the Irish Volunteers, and Director of Intelligence of the IRA. He gained fame as a guerrilla warfare strategist, planning many successful attacks on British forces together with 'the Squad', such as the "Bloody Sunday" assassinations of key British intelligence agents in November 1920.

After the July 1921 ceasefire, Collins was one of five plenipotentiaries sent by the Dáil cabinet at the request of Éamon de Valera, to negotiate peace terms in London. The resulting Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed in December 1921, would establish the Irish Free State but depended on an oath of allegiance to the Crown. This was the clause in the treaty de Valera and other republican leaders found hardest to accept. Collins viewed the treaty as offering "the freedom to achieve freedom", and helped persuade a majority of the Dáil to ratify the treaty. A provisional government was formed under his chairmanship in early 1922. During this time he secretly provided support for an IRA offensive in Northern Ireland. It was soon disrupted by the Irish Civil War, in which Collins was commander-in-chief of the National Army. He was shot and killed in an ambush by anti-Treaty forces on 22 August 1922.