People in History: A named leader in the struggle for Irish independence

Main Page: The War of Independence, the Treaty & the Civil War

Michael Collins in 1920. © NLI
The easiest person to write about in this answer is Michael Collins. You might have seen the "Michael Collins" film by Neil Jordan, starring Liam Neeson as Collins and Alan Rickman as Éamon de Valera. This film has done a lot to raise awareness of who Collins was amongst younger generations, but because it's a film dramatising the events of Collins' life, it presents a few things differently to how they actually happened. (For example, the car bomb scene. Car bombs hadn't been invented yet). This is something to be aware of when watching any film based on historical events, as a film like that is a secondary source and can show any kids of bias, prejudice or propaganda.

For this answer, the only relevant (important) information is what Collins was doing during the years of the independence struggle, 1916 - 1922. Too much information about his early life, his love life, or anything else that has nothing to do with the independence struggle won't win any marks.

So, how do we answer this question?

  • Name the leader you're writing about and introduce him. "Michael Collins was born in Co. Cork in 1890. He..."
  • Start out by talking about his early involvement in the independence struggle. Where was Collins in Easter 1916?
  • Next, talk about the First Dáil. Collins was elected in 1918. What position did he hold? What did he do?
  • What were his other roles? What work did he do with the IRA as the War of Independence began?
  • Talk about the groups he commanded: the Squad and the Flying Columns. What did he order them to do?
  • De Valera sent Collins to negotiate with Britain. What was he negotiating? What was agreed? What problems were there?
  • The treaty led to the Civil War. What was Collins' role now? What did he do? What happened to him?

So, in short...

  1. Name and introduce him (briefly).
  2. Talk about his early involvement in the independence struggle.
  3. His role in the First Dáil.
  4. His other roles as the War of Independence began.
  5. Collins' Squad and the Flying Columns.
  6. Being sent to negotiate the Treaty.
  7. Collins in the Civil War.

  • talk about anything irrelevant (unimportant). Like I said, it must all have something to do with Collins in the independence struggle.
  • talk about any other leaders. You'll mention de Valera when you talk about the Treaty, but you must only mention him in relation to Collins.


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  2. This helped me soooo much when writing my essay, thank you !

  3. A++
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  5. Thank you for this!