Diarmaid Ferriter: Serial myth-making gives each of us the Michael Collins we want

With the centenary of the revolutionary and politician’s death almost upon us, historian Diarmaid Ferriter argues that political convenience often trumps historical fact when it comes to his status in the Irish popular consciousness

Michael Collins: he was a remarkable character in many ways, who demonstrated much skill and courage and there is no need to contrive to make him what he was not. Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty

Which Michael Collins would you like to remember this weekend, on the cusp of the centenary of his death?

The man who would “find common ground with the first-time house buyer, the young married couple that have the ground swept from under them under a barrage of stealth taxes and rip-off practices” (Gerry O’Connell, vice-president of Fine Gael, 2004)?

Or “The brilliant west Cork boy, the military genius, and the one-man revolution who made Ireland ...