Revolution! Michael Collins

Walk around any of the main Dublin tourist areas and you’ll see 1916.  The major exhibitions/tours at the National Museum and Kilmainham, the GPO and its exhibition, murals and pubs with photos covering their frontages and prominent places named after the leaders – eg Pearse, Connolly and Heuston stations to name a few.  Over recent decades and particularly around the centenary in 2016, the Easter Rising has been elevated to the pivotal event in Irish history leading to independence and the establishment of the Republic.  Less visible, however is the legacy of the War of Independence from 1919-21 and the subsequent civil war between Pro and Anti treaty forces.

Central to this was Michael Collins – holder of various government posts in the revolutionary republic but effectively the mastermind in the guerrilla war against the British and signatory to the treaty establishing the Free State. He is probably the leading figure in modern Irish history yet perhaps due to the treaty and it’s aftermath and his assassination by anti-treaty forces, his presence around the capital city is a bit muted.

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Michael Collins. (Canon T50/Kentmere 400)

There’s no statue or memorial other than this less than flattering bust in Merrion Square alongside Oscar Wilde and Bernardo O’Higgins.

The old British Army barracks was renamed Collins Barracks in 1922 and now houses a main site of the National Museum, but there’s little of his presence at the site other than his name.

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Collins Barracks, National Museum.   (Olympus OM20/Kodak Tri-X)

There is, however a memorial to his chief of staff and future Fine Gael leader, Richard Mulcahy.

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Richard Mulcahy bust, Collin Barracks.  (Olympus OM20/Tri-X)

Ironically, the most prominent site relating to Michael Collins is his grave at the Glasnevin Cemetery just outside the city centre. Vying for the centre of attention among the great and good (and ordinary) of Irish history, Collins’ grave is one of the most visited and tended-to at Glasnevin.

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Michael Collins grave – English script
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Michael Collins grave – Irish script


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Michael Collins grave and headstone, Glasnevin

(all shot on Olympus OM20 and Ilford HP5)
As Ireland prepares for its next round of centenary commemorations, perhaps Michael Collins will be able to find centre stage in the country’s capital.

Revolution! – Arbour Hill

A century on from the decade when Ireland began the final struggle to gain independance from Britsh rule, a visitor to Dublin will see memorials, museums, experiences and physical reminders of events that have shaped the Ireland of today.  Whatever your take on this chapter of British and Irish history, it’s a rewarding experience to breathe in the history and come to your own conclusions.  The  events from 1916 through to independance are marked throughout the city – the civil war not so much, but we are still a few years from this centenary.

A good starting point is the Arbour Hill cemetery.  A former British military cemetery, it’s also the burial place of 14 of the executed leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, you can get the history on sites like Heritage Ireland.

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Sacred Heart Church, Arbour Hill

While the likes of Kilmainham Gaol, the cemetery at Glasnevin and the GPO Museum are always busy with fully booked guided tours, Arbour Hill is usually deserted.  There’s no entrance fee, no guides (except an occasional free talk at the weekend) and no shop.  Once you pass the church you’re into a fairly staid and unremarkable military cemetery.  Arbour Hill

Then towards the back, there’s the reason Arbour Hill gets visitors.  The executed leaders of the Rising were unceremoniously buried at a British military cemetery seemingly to avoid the martyrdom and pilgrimages that might stoke further unrest.  History of course had other plans for Ireland, and naturally subsequent Irish governments have developed the grave as a remembrance site.

 

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Grave of the 1916 executed leaders
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The text of the Proclamation of Independence in English and Irish

Surrounding the grave site are stones inscribed with the names of those buried – in English and Irish script.  Thomas Clarke, the old man of the Rising, had a floral tribute marking his stone.

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The names in Irish

 

One of the more fascinating characters of the Rising was James Connolly, a Scot of Irish descent, a former Britsh soldier, trade unionist and leader of the Irish Citizen Army.

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Connolly marked by the Starry Plough
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View from the 1916 memorial


Arbour Hill
The 1916 memorial

Arbour Hill is located a bit away from Dublin’s main tourist sites, on a quiet street at the rear of the Collins Barracks Museum.  It is however worth a visit if you’re doing some revolution tourism –  a site of great signifigance in Irish history and you’ve plenty of further options for the tourguides, multimedia displays and souvenir shops.

Photos were taken on a robust (heavy) Hanimex 35SL (a rebadged Chinon CS) a Pallas 35mm lens (never heard of them) using Lomography Earl Grey 100 film.