Annual Michael Collins commemoration at Béal na Bláth cancelled due to Covid-19

Exhibition to open in Kilmurry Independence Museum to mark 100th anniversary of nearby War of Independence ambush

The annual Michael Collins Commemoration at Béal na Bláth in Co Cork has fallen victim to the Covid-19 pandemic with the organisers deciding to cancel this year's event on foot of health advice regarding public gatherings.

Chairman of the Michael Collins Commemoration Committee, Cllr Garret Kelleher confirmed to The Irish Times that the commemoration, which would have marked the 98th anniversary of Collins's death in an ambush at Béal na Bláth, will not go ahead.

“In adherence with the most recent public health advice and guidelines relating to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Michael Collins Commemoration Committee has taken the decision not to hold our annual commemoration at Béal na mBláth this year.

"We look forward to welcoming supporters of the commemoration back to Béal na mBláth in 2021 and most importantly for the centenary anniversary commemoration in August 2022," said Cllr Kelleher, a member of Cork City Council.


Collins was killed on August 22nd, 1922 by republicans who ambushed his army convoy at Béal na Bláth as he returned to Cork city from meeting Free State commanders in his native west Cork as the Free State began to press home its advantage against anti-Treaty forces in the Civil War.

A monument was unveiled to Collins at Béal na Bláth in 1925 by then president of the executive council WT Cosgrave and although there were a few years in the 1920s when there were no commemorative ceremonies, there have been annual commemorations at the site since the 1930s.

This year's cancellation marks the first time in over 50 years that there has been no commemoration at Béal na Bláth. In recent times both taoiseach, Enda Kenny and President Michael D Higgins have given the oration at the event which is usually held on the Sunday nearest August 22nd.

Meanwhile, nearby Kilmurry Independence Museum is launching a special exhibition on Sunday, August 23rd to mark the 100th anniversary of the Lissarda ambush in which local IRA volunteer, Michael Galvin was fatally wounded in a firefight with a party of RIC from Bandon on August 22nd, 1920.

The exhibition, which is organised by Kilmurry Historical & Archaeological Association, is being launched on Sunday along with a book about the ambush, which happened less than five miles from Béal na Bláth. The book, titled Lissarda Ambush, is by local historian Mary O'Mahony.

According to Kilmurry Independence Museum, which was officially opened by President Higgins in 2016, the exhibition will educate the audience about those involved in the ambush, while the book gives an in-depth account of the ambush and those who participated on both sides.

Museum opening times are Thursday to Sunday, 2-5pm but can be visited at other times by prior request. Contact or 021 7336932

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times