Monday 21 August 1922, Michael Collins visits the military installations in Cork city, Ballincollig and Coachford arriving in Macroom in the afternoon. He meets Florrie O’Donoghue and Sean Hegarty, both neutral IRA officers in regular contact with Liam Deasy and other Anti-treaty people, they were helping Collins to stop the Civil War.
A.J.S. Brady in his Autobiography “The Briar of Life” describes the scene when the Convoy arrived in the vicinity of the Hotel in Macroom.A military cavalcade, drawn up on the hotel side of the street, was surrounded by a milling crowd of soldiers and civilians. An eight cylinder Leyland touring car, with an armoured car ahead of it, stood in front of the hotel. I managed to squeeze my way into the premises. The bar at the rear of the shop was packed with military men standing at ease in groups, taking drinks at the long counter. As I looked at them, all clad sprucely in well tailored uniforms with shining brass buttons and polished belts,
Writing now almost fifty-two years later I see Collins as he was that afternoon an impressive, stalwart figure restless with dynamic energy, lithe still, but running to embonpoint. He had taken his military cap off; it was lying crown down on the counter. He was wearing a tunic above side creased breeches and polished brown leggings with boots to match. He raised a hand now and then, and swept back a fallen forelock. His expression in repose had a set look of determination and a shadow of underlying ruthlessness. From the way he glanced constantly around I gathered that he had not yet rid himself of the alertness inherent in a fugitive. Though he certainly cut a dash as a Brass hat, the uniform seemed, in some way, to be out of character with his rebel past.
Dick William’s barmaid Aileen Baker was a merry, comely girl with up-swung, pouting breasts. In the bar that afternoon Collins took her in his arms, carried her to the hall of the hotel, ran upstairs with her, as though she were weightless, and set her standing on the landing. We all clapped and cheered. Collins was laughing as he ran down. He had sensitively mobile features that would momentarily light up in a smile, or cloud in a frown. Collins had a dozen close associates who were known as his Twelve Apostles. I remember the names of three of them: Liam Tobin, Frank Thornton, and Tom Keogh. His aide-de-camp Emmett Dalton had, before dedicating himself to the fight for Irish freedom, served in the British Army during the First World War, and had won a medal for valor.
I saw that the nucleus of an officers' caste was in being. General Michael Collins was standing at the head of the counter. His aide-de-camp Emmet Dalton was standing beside him. As I pushed my way forward I heard someone saying: "what are you having, Mick?', "For once in my life I'll let the old country down," replied Collins with a smile. "A drop of scotch for me.
As I watched Collins leaving the hotel that afternoon, I heard the cheering, and saw the smiling faces of the milling crowd, but I did not see the shadowy grinning specter in his wake. Next day the twenty-second of August 1922 at BealnaBlath - the "Valley of the Flowers" - County Cork, not far from Sam's cross where he was born, he ran into an ambush, had his poll shattered by a bullet, and died in the arms of his friend Emmet Dalton. END.