100 years later: watching the ambush that sent shock waves across the world

The Independence Museum in Kilmuri is set to host a series of events in the coming weeks, marking the centenary of one of the most important turning points in modern Irish history.

The death of Michael Collins on August 22, 1922 at Beel na Blath sent shock waves around the world and the circumstances surrounding the ambush have been mired in controversy for nearly 100 years.

Located just 3 km from the ambush site, the museum showcases a community’s experience from famine through revolution and the early days of the new Irish state.

Strongly Republican, the parish had over 200 men in the Cork No 1 Brigade, with a network of safe houses often used by the Third West Cork Brigade during the turbulent years of the ‘Tan War’.

One of the events planned by the Independence Museum to mark the centenary of the ambush will be a temporary exhibition ‘Beel Na Blath – The Local Story’ curated by the Kilmuri Historical and Archaeological Association (KHAA), at the venue on Friday, Aug. Will open 12 at 7.30 pm.

The KHAA president, Mary O’Mahony, said the purpose of the exhibition is to give a “balanced view of the effects of the ambush on the people of this parish”.

“We will also remember two local volunteers, William Harrington and Patrick O’Mahony, who died in July 1922 in the fighting in Limerick,” said Mary.

Less than a third of the museum’s collection of artifacts, including items belonging to the Crosley Tender Wheel from Kilmichael and Terrence McSweeney, whose father, John, was born in the parish, is on permanent display.

The new temporary exhibits will be the first time many of these will be available for viewing by the public.

A centenary edition of ‘Michael Collins: His Death in the Twilight’ by the late Edward O’Mahony is also being republished as a fundraiser for KHAA, which runs museums and community spaces on a voluntary basis.

As a young man, O’Mahony was “allowed to isolate and kill the most important man in Ireland” that day and was concerned by the reluctance of older IRA men he knew to talk about.

In 1996, his interest led him to write a short book, based on his knowledge of his native parish and his family’s access to those involved through Republican connections, to provide a unique perspective on events.

On that fateful day, Michael Collins leaves the Williams Hotel (now The Castle Hotel) in Macroom to begin the journey through his native West Cork, visiting a series of National Army positions.

Realizing that the main road to Bandon was impassable, Tim Kelleher, a local Hackney driver, was ordered to accompany the convoy as his guide.

Traveling through a narrow road, the convoy entered Kilmuri Parish in Dooniski, passing near the IRA Hospital at De La Cour Villa, where Crosbury’s wounded were being treated.

At Beel na Blath, IRA sentry Dennis Long, known locally as ‘Denny the Dane’, recognized Collins as the convoy went on its way to Bandon. They immediately informed anti-treaty officials at nearby safe houses.

The last known photograph of Michael Collins is reproduced on the cover of the book while leaving Lee’s hotel (now Munster Arms) in Bandon later that morning.

It was taken by Agnes Hurley, 18, of Mallogaton, who always carried her box camera with her. The next day, Agnes and her brother and sister were carrying wheat to Howard Mill in Crookstown when they came upon a collar on the ground at the ambush site, which Agnes also photographed.

Agnes’ niece Mim O’Donovan said, “They climbed the road that runs parallel to the site and found nine places where the men were leaning against the fence and also spending bullets.” Archives in 2012.

On Sunday, September 4, the KHAA will run a bus tour, the route taken by Collins’ convoy before ambushing from Kilmuri, Newstown and Oven.

Mary O’Mahony stated that the tour would depart from the townland of Ballymichael where the Slybh na Embon armored car initially failed to climb the steep hill, and briefly separated from her escort vehicles at the Newsetown church where Collins was waiting. Had gone.

“Local historian. Sean Crowley will then give an account of the events at the ambush site. After that, we will follow the convoy back to Cork on the way to Clauduv and Killumney, outlining the difficulties they faced on that tragic journey, said Mary.

Kieran Fitzpatrick, a member of the curating team at the Kilmuri Independence Museum, said she has benefited from support from other cultural bodies, historians and local heritage offices.

“The local people, the wider public and tourists have also received a great support and encouragement in all our efforts to celebrate important events on the difficult road to freedom,” Kieran said.

He said the museum’s major publications and exhibitions follow the key objectives envisioned by the decade’s centenary programme, while remaining faithful to our own tagline – ‘See the history of Ireland through a local lens’.

“The centenary commemoration of the death of Michael Collins at Beel na Blath was always going to be a major component of Civil War commemorations,” Kieran said.

“Despite the difficulties and special sensitivity, the memory of the Civil War should be no different,” he said.

The Independence Museum is open Thursday through Sunday from 2 pm to 5 pm (other times by appointment); Admission €5, children u12 free.

‘Michael Collins: His Death in the Twilight’ by Edward O’Mahony, priced at €10, available from the museum and local shops.

The Bil na Bluth bus tour will cost €20 per person. For more information and to book, call 021-7336932 or visit www.kilmurrymuseum.ie. go to