The Slievenamon car and it’s place in Irish history

The Slievenamon (Sliabh na mBan) Armoured Rolls Royce car, used by General Michael Collins.  Risteárd went to see it, at a vintage car show held recently at the former Connolly Army barracks in Longford over the June bank holiday.

This armoured car dates back to 1920 and was bought from the British Army by the newly formed Irish State after the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed. It was famously part of the convoy at Béal na mBláth in West Cork, on the day Collins was ambushed and killed.  On our recent Cork trip, we got a guided Michael Collins tour and visited Béal na mBláth and Collin’s homestead outside of Clonakility. We learnt on the tour, how on that fateful day, Collins didn’t actually travel in this car, where he would have been protected, instead he travelled behind the armoured car and when the shooting started, they took cover behind the Slievenamon but Collins came out from behind it and was hit while standing in the middle of the road.

Irish soldier stands beside armoured car
Irish soldier stands guard over the Slievenamon Collins Armoured car

 

Who killed Michael Collins ?

It is widely believed an IRA volunteer soldier on the anti-treaty side called Denis ‘Sonny’ O’Neill, fired the fatal shot, he was a highly skilled sniper, having trained with the British Army during World War 1, although he never admitted it, Army pension records show he was at the ambush and was the most skilled of the republican soldiers at the ambush.  The guide also told us, how rumours about Eamon De Valera been part of the ambush, came about as Dev, had stayed only a few miles away in the same townland, the night before in West Cork, which is a coincidence.

 

Michael Collins car during Irish Civil War
Slievenamon Armoured Car preserved by the Irish Army

 

Watch this short video clip from the 1996 Michael Collins movie, although the movie is historically inaccurate, it does depict the Béal na mBláth ambush quite well.

[kad_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OP-A16Uybaw” ]

 

 

Curragh Military Museum

The armoured car is usually located at the Curragh Military Museum in Kildare and this year as part of different 1916 Easter Rising commemorations events, the car has been touring around Ireland. Entry to the military museum is free and you can check out the opening times here.