Michael Collins is voted Irish person of the century

Michael Collins has been voted Irish Person of the 20th Century in an online poll at the Irish Times Website, ireland.com

Michael Collins has been voted Irish Person of the 20th Century in an online poll at the Irish Times Website, ireland.com

An untimely death and recent big-screen portrayal by Liam Neeson were no doubt instrumental in his victory over other prominent nationalists.

The closest runners-up were Eamon de Valera, Mr John Hume, Mr Gerry Adams and Bobby Sands. The top 10 is completed by Mrs Mary Robinson, James Joyce, Bono, Noel Browne and James Connolly.

The virtual polling booth was open for one month from mid-December 1999 at Times 2000, a millennium-eve countdown site. These were "free-text-entry" polls, which means voters could type in any name they wished as opposed to choosing from a predetermined list.


Patriotic bias appears to have had some influence on the results, ensuring the number one spot for Collins in the overall Person of the Century category, ahead of Nelson Mandela, Mohandas Gandhi and Mother Teresa.

The literature categories were dominated by James Joyce. He has been voted both Writer and Irish Writer of the Century, with W.B.Yeats and Samuel Beckett trailing him in the latter case. Joyce's novel Ulysses is Book of the Century, ahead of J.R.R.Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and J.D.Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.

Patriotic voting is evident in several other categories, including Songwriter/Composer, which saw an emphatic victory for Van Morrison over Gustav Mahler, John Lennon, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney.

Morrison was voted fourth most important singer of the century, behind Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Bob Marley, and ahead of Bono. Morrison's Astral Weeks pipped U2's The Joshua Tree as Album of the Century, with Nirvana's Nevermind in third place.

The Band of the Century honour goes to the Beatles, with the rest of the top five monopolised by Irish bands: U2, The Pogues, the Go-Betweens and Thin Lizzy.

Irish soccer international Tony Cascarino came an astonishing third place in the Sportsman of the Century category, behind Muhammad Ali and Pele, probably again due to a desire to see the Irish as world-beaters.

Another conspicuous name in that category is Juventus soccer player Ronnie O'Brien, who last year caused havoc in Time magazine's Person of the Century poll, allegedly thanks to multiple voting by friends in his hometown of Bray.

His name has been a favourite in online polls ever since - in this one he comes eighth. George Best could manage only ninth place.

Sonia O'Sullivan was voted Sportswoman of the Century, ahead of Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova.

The holocaust was voted Worst Idea of the Century. Also scoring highly in that category were nuclear warfare, the partition of Ireland, nationalism and Communism.

`Worst Idea' suggestions which did not make the top 10 include: boy bands, Cherry Coke, getting rid of Dublin's trams, joining the commonwealth, mobile phones, soap on a rope, tribunals, warm-air hand dryers and polls of the century.

The top 20 results in each category of the poll are available at: www.ireland.com/special/times2000