Dr Marie Cassidy will chair a panel of forensic scientists, criminal investigators, military strategists, archaeologists, archivists and historians who will try to discover who shot Michael Collins
‘Who shot Michael Collins?’ That vexing question has been asked for nearly 100 years since that fateful evening on the bend of the road at Béal na Bláth when the commander of the National Army was shot dead during an ambush by a small group of IRA men who had been lying in wait all that day.
And while it’s no closer to being answered definitively – many historians, amateur detectives and, even, a comedian have proposed theories and asked interesting questions – there’s a possibility that a serious attempt may be made to unravel the mystery in a new RTÉ documentary being broadcast to mark the centenary of the most infamous murder in Irish history since the killing of Brian Boru.
Cold Case Collins will be broadcast on August 24, just two days after the centenary of the controversial killing, and it features a panel comprising forensic scientists, criminal investigators, military strategists, archaeologists, archivists and historians and chaired by former State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy.
"As viewers, we eavesdrop on the experts as they sift and filter through the evidence old and new, looking for answers to the questions that have ignited bar brawls for decades,” says the RTÉ press release.
To mark the centenary of the assassination of Collins, RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland will broadcast from the Munster Arms Hotel, Bandon on Friday August 19, formerly Lee’s Hotel, where Michael Collins was photographed alive for the last time, 30 minutes before he was killed in the ambush at Béal na Bláth. This special Morning Ireland will have an extended broadcast on the RTÉ digital news channel.
Other programmes from the national broadcaster to cover this historic anniversary include a Nationwide edition in which historian Donal Byrne looks at the early years of Michael Collins and traces what his influences were as he grew to become one of the most influential figures in modern Irish history and hears how he became a master political strategist and organiser.
A subsequent issue of Nationwide, on August 22, marks another pivotal date in Irish history: the 100th anniversary of An Garda Síochána. Born out of revolution and war, An Garda Síochána has evolved from being a force that, for many years, dealt with little very serious crime to an organisation that has had to adjust to dealing with organised crime and the complexities of modern Irish life.