Commemorating the great General

July 19th, 2022 11:40 AM

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WITH just weeks to go to the centenary of the death of Michael Collins, organisers of events being planned all around West Cork are moving up a gear.

Several sites around the region will play host to visitors and invited guests as a number of centenaries are marked.

There can be no more significant commemoration, however, than the one which will take place to recall the death of one of West Cork’s best-loved figures, General Michael Collins.

The site at Béal na Bláth outside Crookstown will see both Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar addressing the commemoration to mark the 100th anniversary of Collins’ death in the Civil War.

Michael Collins Commemoration Committee chairman Garret Kelleher said earlier in the year that he was delighted and honoured that, two speakers of the calibre of the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste, had accepted the invitation to speak at the centenary commemoration on August 21st.

There is no doubt that it is a major coup to get both to speak at the event which marks a period in Irish history which was so heavily politically charged.

Micheál Martin will then become the first Fianna Fáil Taoiseach to address the commemoration, which takes place every year beside the monument erected to mark the spot where Collins was shot by the anti-Treaty IRA.

For weeks, Cork County Council has been working on the site of the ambush to have it restored in the most sensitive and appropriate manner ahead of the centenary in August. It is a partnership between Cork County Council and the Department of An Taoiseach, Department of Defence and Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. 

In a statement, the Council said the works will make the area more ‘visitor-friendly’ and include narrowing the road, resurfacing, additional parking spaces as well as information maps and guides. ‘The project will also serve as a legacy for the centenary itself,’ it said.

The works will give visitors a chance to experience what the landscape was like in 1922 when the ambush took place. It is also about creating a lasting legacy for future generations, the county mayor Danny Collins pointed out.

The centenary project was designed and developed by key experts in archaeological historic landscapes and memorial historic landscapes. It involved historical analysis of the battlefield and ambush area, as well as a drawing from a historic landscape assessment. 

But let us not forget that there are several other areas of importance around the region that warrant our acknowledgement too, in this significant year of remembering the Treaty negotiator.

The Council has invested wisely in the wonderful Michael Collins Trail that invites visitors to tour around the many places and sites that played a part in the history of the foundation of our State.

It consists of 140 signs and waypoints linking points of interest relating to Collins’ life.

The trail, developed sensitively by Cork County Council, was designed to act as a historical guide, linking locations and providing tourists with an easy way of following the route and immersing themselves in the life of one of our most important historical figures.

From Collins’ birthplace, to the Castleview museum and Michael Collins House in Clonakilty, it links to the ambush site at Béal na Bláth, the Independence Museum in Kilmurry and also takes in Bandon and Newcestown, and is signposted from the N22 at Crookstown.

There is no better reason to immerse ourselves in the history of both our county and country that his commemoration year.

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