This wonderful collection contains speeches in which Michael Collins evaluates Ireland's heritage and charts its future
FOREWORD by Mary Kenny When Michael Collins returned from London - with Arthur Griffith and the negotiating team - after signing the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921, Collins himself was aware of two evident truths. One was that the Treaty terms were the best possible compromise the Irish signatories could have wrenched from Great Britain. Britain was still at the apex of the largest Empire the world had known, and King George V reigned over a quarter of the global map; while Ireland was a fledgling state emerging into independence. The British had threatened to return to the theatre of war in Ireland if no agreement had been reached, and Britain undoubtedly had the power of force majeure. Always an Irish patriot who honoured the Fenian tradition, Michael Collins was also a realist, in military and in practical matters, and knew that the country had to work with what it had - not yet a Republic, but a decisive step towards independence and the building of an Irish state. The second truth was that in signing the Treaty he had in all likelihood signed his own death-warrant.
Winston Churchill watched Collins take up that pen and sign, and Churchill wrote afterwards: In all my life, I have never seen so much passion and suffering in restraint as I saw on Michael Collins' face that day.A" But still, Collins knew it was his duty to steward the Irish nation towards the foundation of statehood. Collins understood - as he makes clear in these fascinating pages - the difference between a nation and a state. The Irish nation could claim roots in antiquity, and a sense of continuity down through the ages: the Irish people had that sense of nationhood imbued in their spirit, and as soon as democracy had developed, had made their desire for independence clear. But if a nation is the spirit of a people, a modern state is a political construct: it has to