National Army Soldier Private Michael Collins


National Army Soldier Private Michael Collins (Rochestown)

Date of incident: 9 Aug. 1922

Sources: ‘The Fight at Cork’, Cork Examiner report republished in SS, 19 Aug. 1922; Borgonovo (2011), 102; Boyne (2015), 135; Keane (2017), 292-93.


Note: A first cousin of the National Army’s commander-in-chief, Private Michael Collins was mortally wounded at or near the crossroads adjoining the Capuchin monastery at Rochestown on Wednesday, 9 August 1922. On that day this area became the site of a fierce contest between the opposing combatants: ‘Amid the intense gunfire the two sides closed on each other and some hand-to-hand combat reportedly took place. Most notably, west Cork National Army soldier Michael Collins . . . charged a Republican machine gun, but his pistol jammed. Collins tried to wrest the machine gun away from the gunner, but he received a point-blank burst through his lower body. His wounds proved fatal after he lingered for several days in a Cork hospital.’ See Borgonovo (2011), 102.

Sean Boyne recounts a very similar story in his recent biography of Free State General Emmet Dalton, one of Michael Collins’s closest military advisors: After the landing of Free State forces at Passage West, ‘there were to be many close encounters between the opposing sides as the fighting raged on in the fields and woods and along the roads. In one hand-to-hand encounter a young National Army non-commissioned officer called Michael Collins, a relative of the Commander-in-Chief, attacked a machine gunner and tried to shoot him but his pistol jammed. As they struggled, the machine gunner managed to fire the machine gun and Collins was seriously injured in the groin. He died later in hospital.’ See Boyne (2015), 135.

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