The organisers of this year's Béal na Bláth commemoration to mark the anniversary of the killing of Free State leader Michael Collins in the Civil War have been forced to move the event online due to Covid-19 restrictions governing public gatherings.
Chairman of the Michael Collins Commemoration Committee, Fine Gael Cllr Garret Kelleher, said that it was with regret the committee had made the decision not to go ahead with this year's event in person on Sunday when Fine Gael Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys was due to give the oration at the site.
"Unfortunately, due to the current restrictions around outdoor gatherings, the commemoration committee had no option but to take the decision not to proceed with this year's commemoration as we had planned," said Cllr Kelleher.
“Rather than giving an in-person address in front of an assembled crowd at the monument in Béal na Bláth, our guest speaker Minister Heather Humphreys will instead deliver this year’s commemorative oration online,” he added.
Cllr Kelleher said that Ms Humphreys' address will be available for people to view on the committee's website michaelcollinscommemoration.iefrom Sunday which will be the 99th anniversary of Collins's death in the Civil War.
He said the committee hoped people would understand why this decision had to be taken and looked forward to welcoming people to Bal na Bláth next year for the centenary event.
Ms Humphreys said that it was a huge honour for her to be asked to give the oration at this year’s commemoration and while disappointed that it wouldn’t happen in person, she looked forward to people following it online.
“I want to acknowledge the efforts of the local commemoration committee who have worked hard to ensure that the event can be held remotely this year,” she said.
Collins was killed on the August 22nd, 1922, by republicans who ambushed his Army convoy at Béal na Bláth as he returned to Cork city from meeting with Free State commanders in his native west Cork as the Free State began to press home its advantage against anti-treaty forces.
A monument was unveiled to Collins at the site 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.
Last year’s cancellation of the event marked the first time in more than 50 years that there has been no commemoration.