Michael Collins commemoration at Béal na Bláth cancelled due to Covid-19

Michael Collins commemoration at Béal na Bláth cancelled due to Covid-19
The 2019 Michael Collins commemoration at Béal na Bláth. Picture: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

The annual Michael Collins Commemoration at Béal na Bláth will not take place this year due to Covid-19.

Béal na Bláth is the site where Michael Collins was assassinated on August 22, 1922 in an ambush by anti-treaty forces. 

Chairman of the Michael Collins Commemoration Committee, Cllr Garret Kelleher said social distancing would not be feasible to implement at the commemoration, which typically draws a large crowd, and the committee therefore took the decision to cancel this year's event.

"2020, 2021 and 2022 were always going to be the three biggest years for us so it’s just disappointing that we’ve lost one of those years," he told The Echo.

The commemoration in its current guise commenced in the mid-1960s and this year's event would have paid tribute to the last surviving member of the original committee, who passed away last year.

"One of our members who was the treasurer passed away over the course of the last 12 months and he would have been the last surviving member of the original committee, a man by the name of Tommy O’Connell from Macroom. "It’s disappointing because if we had our traditional oration, Tommy would have undoubtedly been remembered at this year’s commemoration for the service and the efforts he put in over many decades," said Mr Kelleher.

It will be the first time in over 50 years that there has been no commemoration at Béal na Bláth. 

In recent years, President Michael D Higgins and former Taoiseach Enda Kenny have spoken at the event which is usually held on the Sunday nearest August 22.

However, it's onwards and upwards for the organising committee who have "big plans" for the commemorations in 2021 and 2022.

The committee has already been liaising with the Department for Defence and intends to make some improvement works to the Collins monument at Béal na Bláth.

This will also include improved signage for visitors and plans to make the site more wheelchair accessible.

"Modest improvements will be made in advance and then our energies will be focused on the next two commemorations which are key," said Mr Kelleher.

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