The killing of Michael Collins created the greatest "what if" in modern Irish history

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Exactly 100 years ago, Michael Collins was shot dead on a road in his home county of Cork.

On the day he died at Béal na mBláth, Collins was the chairman of the provisional government of the Irish Free State.

He had been a leading architect of the War of Independence and key negotiator and prominent signatory of the Anglo-Irish Agreement which proved to be the catalyst for the civil war.

Almost as soon as he died, big questions started to be be asked.


What kind of leader could Michael Collins have been?

Listen | 25:24
The killing of Collins created the greatest "what if" in Irish history. If he had lived would Irish history have played out differently? Would he have attempted to win back the six counties of Northern Ireland? One hundred years after Collins' death, Irish Times reporter and historian Ronan McGreevy looks at the outstanding questions over his life, death and influence today. Ronan McGreevy is the author of a new book Great Hatred: The Assassination of Sir Henry Wilson MP, which explores the origins of the Civil War.

Who killed him, and why? How did his death alter the course of Irish history and what would modern Ireland have been like had he not died aged just 31?

And who could rightfully lay claim to his legacy?

In this decade of centenaries, the 100th anniversary of his death is an event which stands above almost all others.

Even 100 years on his legacy and role in the War of Independence, the Anglo Irish negotiations and the Civil War have the capacity to sow division and confusion.

Irish Times journalist, author and historian Ronan McGreevy talks to In The News about Michael Collins and his legacy.

Read more on the death of Michael Collins

Who shot Michael Collins? One hundred years on, the question remains unanswered

How The Irish Times reported the shooting of Michael Collins 100 years ago

‘He loved the games:’ GAA played a key role in the life of Michael Collins

‘A never-ending throng of mourners’: Arthur Beesley on the funeral of Collins

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast