People invest a lot in Michael Collins. As a result of his death at the age of 31 at Beal na Blath, he will forever be ‘the lost leader'.
Perhaps, some imagine, he could have made Ireland in his own image; youthful dynamic, forward-looking. Perhaps, others think, he could have realised some of the dreams of the independence movement – a united Ireland, an economically prosperous country. As a result of his early death, we will never know.
There is, however, another ‘might-have-been'. Under the pressure of Civil War, on July 12, 1922, Michael Collins left the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State and made himself Commander in Chief of the pro-Treaty National Army.