By Lily Murphy
While conducting the War of Independence from 1919 to 1921, Michael Collins had a substantial bounty on his head but he managed to evade capture. Before he became the most wanted man in Ireland, Collins had, in fact, been arrested and spent three weeks in Sligo Gaol.
In 1918, Michael Collins was made an adjutant general of the Irish Volunteers. With this role came the duty of travelling the country to organise the Irish Volunteers. In March of that year Collins was in County Longford to make a speech. After Mass on Sunday approximately 300 people gathered in the Longford village of Legga to hear what this young adjutant general of the Irish Volunteers had to say.
Collins read aloud from an Irish Volunteer General Order which called on people to resist conscription by any means possible. Collins decided to add his own few lines to the order when he encouraged people to raid places such as RIC stations for arms.
The speech drew rapturous applause from those in Legga, but word of this seditious speech made its way to the Longford County Inspector and a warrant for the arrest of the man who delivered the speech was made.
Collins was arrested on April 2nd in Dublin city by Detectives O’Brien and Bruton from Dublin Castle as he was walking into his office at 32 Bachelors Quay. A crowd had assembled and threatened to harm those arresting Collins, but he spoke with them and calmed the situation before he was sent on a train to Longford.