Michael Collins was an Irish revolutionary, soldier, and politician who was a leading figure in the early-20th century Irish struggle for independence. He was Chairman of the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State from January 1922, and commander-in-chief of the National Army from July, until his death in an ambush in August 1922, during the Civil War.
Collins was born in Woodfield, County Cork, the youngest of eight children. He moved to London in 1906, to become a clerk in the Post Office Savings Bank at Blythe House. He was a member of the London GAA, through which he became associated with the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Gaelic League. He returned to Ireland in 1916 and fought in the Easter Rising. He was subsequently imprisoned in the Frongoch internment camp as a prisoner of war, but was released in December 1916.
Collins rose through the ranks of the Irish Volunteers and Sinn Féin after his release from Frongoch. He was elected as a Teachta Dála for South Cork in 1918, and was appointed Minister for Finance in the First Dáil. He was present when the Dáil convened on 21 January 1919 and declared the independence of the Irish Republic.