The great cover-up: the truth about the death of Michael Collins

Published in Issue 2 (March/April 2019), Letters, Volume 27

Sir,—Regarding Nigel Jones’s review of Gerard Murphy’s book (HI 27.1, Jan./Feb. 2019), I was surprised by the assertion that Dr Murphy ‘is well qualified for the role of historical detective, being professionally versed in forensic science’. The information about the author included in the book merely states that Murphy holds a Ph.D and lectures at an Institute of Technology. That institution’s website in turn suggests that Murphy is a biochemist specialising in lactic acid bacteria and white rot fungi. 

In fairness to your reviewer, it is easy to see how he might have been misled, as Murphy’s publishers seem to be deliberately vague about the precise nature of his expertise. The back cover of the book states that he is ‘a scientist … [who] … carried out a forensic analysis of the ambush site’, which could give the casual reader the impression, without stating it explicitly, that Murphy is a forensic scientist.

Jones was certainly mistaken in stating that Murphy’s book is ‘the account that best fits the brutal facts’. On page 14 Murphy states that Collins had been shot dead ‘more or less where the Collins monument [at the ambush site] now stands’ and that ‘speculation that Collins was killed either farther north or south of that position … [is] … a false premise’. In her Commemorating the Irish Civil War, Dr Anne Dolan (TCD) showed conclusively that the spot where Collins was killed is 40 yards away from where the Collins monument now stands. Murphy’s conspiracy theories about Collins’s death centre on his misinformation about where Collins was supposedly standing when shot. Murphy compounds his errors by using this false premise as a basis for speculating as to where Collins’s killer might have been shooting from.

Even the information board at Béal na Blath beside the memorial clearly states that Collins was shot dead a good distance south of the monument. Rather than accept this orthodoxy and the consensus about what happened at Béal na Blath and where it happened, Murphy instead presents cover-up, speculation and conspiracy.—Yours etc.,

Banteer, Co. Cork


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