He was the most admired Irishman of his generation and he uttered memorable words during his lifetime. Here are our top ten Michael Collins quotes:
1. “He comes from a brainy Cork family.”
-From a file in Dublin Castle that Collins himself found.
2. “There is no crime in detecting and destroying in wartime the spy and informer. They have destroyed without trial. I have paid them back in their own coin.”
-Collins commenting on Bloody Sunday, when his men gunned down British spies in Dublin.
3. “Of Pearse and Connolly I admire the latter the most. Connolly was a realist, Pearse the direct opposite. I would have followed Connolly to hell had such action been necessary. But I honestly doubt I would have followed Pearse…”
-On the 1916 Easter Rising.
4. “Lloyd George … I find to be particularly obnoxious. He is all comradely, all craft and wiliness—all arm around the shoulder…not long ago he would have had me joyfully at the rope end.”
-On Lloyd George, then-British Prime Minister.
5. “Give us the future..we’ve had enough of your past..give us back our country to live in—to grow in..to love.”
-During the treaty negotiations.
6. “To me the task is a loathsome one. I go in the spirit of the soldier who acts against his best judgment at the orders of his superior.”
-On being sent to Downing Street for the negotiations.
7. “Think what have I got for Ireland … Something which she has wanted these past 700 years, will anyone be satisfied with this bargain, will anyone? I tell you this, early this morning I have signed my death warrant”
-After signing the treaty.
8. “ In my opinion it gives us freedom, not the ultimate freedom that all nations desire.. but the freedom to achieve it.”
-His take on the treaty.
9. “Yerra, they’ll never shoot me in my own country”
-Just before leaving to face his fate at Beal Na mBlath.
10. “He was an Irish patriot true and fearless.”
-Winston Churchill about the man he once considered an implacable enemy.
Quotes taken from “The Little Green Book of Irish Wisdom” edited by Dermot McEvoy, Skyhorse Publishing.
*Originally published in July 2014.