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    Michael Collins was born in Cork in 1890. He attended
    school and then worked as a local journalist (writing
    sports reviews) before moving to London at the age of
    15 to work for the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).

    In London Collins associated with the Irish community and
    became keenly aware of the history of Irish nationalism.
    He joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1909. By
    1915 he had risen though the ranks of the London branch
    of the IRB and was aware of the increasing tension in
    Dublin between the various factions of republicanism. He
    returned home and helped in the recruitment that was
    necessary before any uprising could be successful. He
    also joined the Gaelic League, an organisation that
    stressed the use of the Irish language as another means
    of nationalistic expression.

    Despite the extreme unlikelihood of any success the Easter
    Rising went ahead and resulted in the destruction of large
    part of Dublin city centre as well as the execution of the
    seven leaders of the revolt. This was the mistake by the
    British that turned the tide in favour of the insurgents
    for the first time. Public sympathy towards the executed
    men increased so much that Collins, DeValera and the
    remaining leaders could see that nationalism was about to
    peak in the country.

    Collins was imprisoned in Frongoch internment camp where
    his credentials as a leader were further recognised by his
    captured comrades. After his release Collins quickly rose
    to a high position in both Sinn Fein and the IRB and
    started to organise a guerrilla war against the British.
    He even broke DeValera out of prison in England. The War
    against the British continued on through 1920 and 1921
    despite the introduction of the 'Black and Tans' - mercenary
    soldiers introduced into Ireland by Churchill.

    The British Prime Minister, Lloyd George, eventually
    compromised and offered a partition of Ireland and a
    'Free State'. Collins and Arthur Griffith had been sent
    to London as the Irish delegation because DeValera knew
    that the ultimate aim - independence - was not attainable.

    The resultant civil war that broke out between the
    pro-treaty and anti-treaty factions was bloody indeed
    but Collins defeated his former comrades-in-arms only
    to eventually have his own life taken in an ambush in
    Cork in 1922.

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