In 2012, London’s National Army Museum voted Michael Collins to be England’s second greatest foe, ahead of Rommel, Napoleon, and Attatürk. A well deserving George Washington was selected as their greatest foe.
When I wrote The Last of the Fenians, I needed to include Collins early in the tale, or it would seem artificial inserting him later. Therefore, I had Reed, a newly-ordained Catholic priest, transferred to County Cork where he befriended the youthful Collins. Following which, the two went their separate ways, Collins to England and Reed to join the 10th Irish Division in Gallipoli. The two reunited after Reed was wounded and Collins returned to Ireland. Along with his childhood friend PJ Sleavin, Reed closely supported Collins from the time of his imprisonment for participating in the 1915 Easter Rebellion, Collins’s involvement in the Anglo-Irish War, the Treaty with England until his death during the Irish Civil War.
I have a great interest in that period of Irish History for my Irish-American father was in Ireland during 1921 and ’22. By shouting, “He’s a Yank,” a Cavan barmaid saved him from being run through by the Black and Tan. In addition, my Mother-in-Law, Elizabeth McCarthy, from Skibbereen, County Cork detested Collins for having signed the Treaty. We had many a discussion over that issue.
The Last of the Fenians is one of the few books on Irish History that recognizes the participation of thousands of Irish fighting with the English forces during WWI. It wasn’t until 2010 that the Irish Government recognized the thousands of Irish who are still buried in Gallipoli.
Gallipoli, April 25, 2010 — Irish President Mary Mcalesse quoting from a 1934 speech by Mustafa Atatürk:
“Your sons are now lying in our bosom and
are in peace, having lost their lives on this land,
they have become our sons as well.”
When writing The Last of the Fenians, it gave me pause to reconsider America’s foreign policy. If England with all it’s might: (planes, guns, and tanks,) following WWI, situated just 20-miles away, could not defeat Michael Collins with only a few thousand active rebels, then how could we expect to succeed invading Afghanistan and Iraq?