Michael collins

Don’t bother calling the doctor 

‘If you are calling about sinusitis, sore throat, earache in children, infected inset bite from the UK not overseas, impetigo, shingles, or female-only uncomplicated water infections, speak to your local pharmacist.’ That is how my parents’ GP surgery now answers the phone. A recorded message telling you to go away for almost every illness you might have is read out by a very stern male voice, unnecessarily loudly. He first tells you to dial 999 for life-threatening emergencies, or 111 for anything less serious, leaving you to decide which is which. Then he tells you there are no appointments even if you wait for an answer because so many of

No one knows how to sell the European project to the Irish any more

A few days after having Sunday lunch at the hotel where Michael Collins ate his last meal, we found ourselves on the road to Beal na Bla. We had gone to get hay and the hayman was out to lunch, so we followed the heritage signs to the site of the ambush where Collins was shot dead. The events of 22 August 1922 immortalised this picturesque valley in West Cork near to where the builder boyfriend and I have bought an old country house. Beal na Bla, or Blath, translates as ‘entrance to the good land’. The memorial by the curve in the road where Collins was murdered is surrounded

Who planned Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson’s murder?

Until very recently, political assassination was a mercifully uncommon occurrence in British politics, though that has changed. Previously when such murders did happen, they were usually associated with Ireland: the 1882 Phoenix Park murders of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Thomas Burke, the killings of Airey Neave and Lord Mountbatten, and numerous unsuccessful plots and near misses. One spectacular example occurred in June 1922, when Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson was shot dead outside his Mayfair house by two IRA operatives called Reginald Dunne and Joseph O’Sullivan, who were swiftly captured and hanged, after a trial whose procedures were sharply criticised by George Bernard Shaw among others. Wilson is not much remembered