18 June 2009

Michael Collins

Just finished Tim Pat Coogan's biography of 'the man who made Ireland.' It was a dense, fact-packed work and it was slow going for the first half or so, but the last half was much better. It is an entirely Irish story, frustrating and heartbreaking but also inspiring and impressive. I've done too many book reports in my life so instead of analyzing it, I'll just share my favorite quotes from it. I'll start with a great statement on the man himself by Arthur Griffith made as the country was sliding into civil war...
If my name is to go down in history, I want it associated with the name Michael Collins.
The rest of these are quote from Collins and these first two I love for their economic insight and principle (he was the minister of finance after all).
  • Millionaires can spend their surplus wealth bestowing libraries broadcast upon the world. But who will say that the benefits accruing could be compared with those arising from a condition of things in which the people themselves...were prosperous to buy their own books and to put together their own local libraries in which they could take a personal interest and acquire knowledge in proportion to that interest.
  • For very often we are actors in events that have more meaning and consequences than we realize.
  • To my mind it is now a question of our nerves. There is no doubt a great deal of punishment ahead of us. It is a question of the body wearing longer than the lash.
  • Everyone in Ireland has reason to be mistrustful of English politicians of all schools and we have learned to be more distrustful of their promises than their threats.
  • To go for a drink is one thing. To be driven to it is another.
I love the last one too. It was made in the middle of negotiations with the British trying to come away with something presentable while knowing that they wouldn't allow the one thing that de Valera insisted on, a republic.


  1. I loved the movie Michael Collins, or did I just love Liam Neeson? Okay, I loved both.

  2. i'd choose the one about being more wary of british promises than threats..

    unrelated: WOW! that's some fine looking BBQ chicken!