Beál na Bláth

Béal na Bláth is a small rural area in the mid Cork region where Michael Collins was ambushed and killed during the Irish Civil War. A monument dedicated to Collins marks the area where this took place.


In August 1922 the Civil War looked to be coming to a close, the Free State National Army had defeated the Anti-Treaty IRA in most of the country with one of their last remaining being the South-West of the country. Michael Collins had decided to come to tour West Cork. It appears the reason for Collins journey into dangerous territory may have been a necessary one to gather funds for the almost bankrupt, newly formed, Free State and to negotiate peace.


It is believed that a meeting of Anti-Treaty IRA leaders was occurring in the vicinity of Beál na Bláth that morning when Michael Collins and the Free State convoy passed by. The Anti-Treaty forces would not allow a Free State convoy pass through one of their last remaining territories unchallenged and so an ambush was planned should the convoy return on that road.


After a day touring West Cork, Michael Collins convoy left Bandon at 6.45pm for Cork City. By this time, the main of the ambush party had left the area. It was so late they had assumed the convoy had returned via another road. Only a few soldiers remained and they were in the process of removing the blockade and a mine from the road when Collins convoy approached. The soldiers opened fire on the convoy.


The convoy stopped and them men got into cover along the ditch at the side of the road. Collins and his men entered cover by the side of the road and returned fire while the Slieve na mBan armoured car had the Anti-Treaty forces pinned down by machine gun fire. This gun jammed giving the ambushers the opportunity to retreat. When this happened, it is believed Michael Collins left the safety of cover, either to give chase to those retreating or to get into a better to position to shoot at his attackers.


At this point an Anti Treaty gunshot rang out and Collins fell. He had received a catastrophic gunshot wound behind his right ear and had died instantly. One of Irelands greatest revolutionary heroes had been killed. Collins was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin in what is thought to have been the largest funeral in Irish history.