Mairead McGuinness to deliver oration at Collins commemoration

Beal na Blath event organisers welcome move to name GAA trophies after Collins and Harry Boland

Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness is to deliver this year's oration at the annual Michael Collins commemoration at Beal na Blath in August.

Dermot Collins, chairman of the Beal na Blath Annual Commemoration committee, told The Irish Times the committee was delighted that Ms McGuinness, a former journalist and vice president of the European Parliament, had accepted its invitation to give the oration on the 95th anniversary of Michael Collins's death.

"Last year we had President Michael D Higgins give the oration which was a huge honour given it was the 100th anniversary of 1916, and now this year with Brexit proving such a significant event for Ireland, we are delighted to have someone with a European perspective give the oration," Mr Collins said.

“Mairead McGuinness has been a member of the European Parliament since 2004, and she is an articulate and eloquent speaker so we’re looking forward with interest to what she will have to say about the challenges facing Ireland post-Brexit and what Collins might have made of it all.”


First elected to the European Parliament in 2004, Ms McGuinness was re-elected in 2009 and most recently in 2014 for the newly Ireland Midlands-North West constituency. In her current role as vice-president of the European Parliament, she oversees relations with national parliaments.

Mr Collins also expressed satisfaction that, following remarks by Ireland South MEP and former GAA president, Sean Kelly regarding the absence of any GAA trophy commemorating Michael Collins, trophies for two new competitions had been called after Collins and his good friend Harry Boland.

“Sean Kelly remarked some years ago when he gave the oration that it was strange that Michael Collins was not remembered by the GAA given his involvement in the organisation particularly when he was in London when he was secretary to the Geraldines club,” said Mr Collins.

Mr Collins said he was aware of efforts by the Cork County Board to rectify the omission, and he said the committee were delighted to learn that the GAA had decided 100 years on from 1916 to honour them in this way.

He paid tribute to GAA president Aogan O Fearghail for naming the football and hurling cups after Collins and Boland - who played football for Dublin and refereed the 1914 All-Ireland Football Final - given the two were such close friends although they took different sides in the Civil War.

“The World Club Championship is open to clubs from all continents and countries outside of Ireland so it’s particularly fitting to have the football trophy called after Collins given he was truly a global figure and his stature as a political and military leader is now recognised internationally,” he said.

This year’s Beal na Blath commemoration takes place on Sunday, August 20th, to mark the death of Collins on August 22nd, 1922, in an ambush by Republicans during the latter stages of the Civil War as he returned from an inspection tour of Free State forces in his native west Cork.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times