Michael Collins aged 9 with his Mother Marianne, Grandmother O'Brien, sister Mary & brother Johnny.
Michael Collins was born on 16 October 1890 near Sam's Cross, a tiny hamlet in West Cork, named after Sam Wallace, a local highwayman. Sam's Cross lies between Rosscarbery and Clonakilty. Here, in a picturesque valley between river and sea, the young Michael grew up. As a lad, he spear fished for salmon in the river and played among the cliffs above Black beach and at Cliodhna's Rock. But, as was typical of the times, Michael never learned to swim.
His Father, also named Michael, was a member of the republican Fenian movement but had left and settled down to farming. He was 60 years old when he married Marianne O'Brien, then 23. They brought up 8 children. Michael, the youngest, was born when his father was 75. Michael was 6 years old when his father died. On his death bed, his Father (who was the seventh son of a seventh son) predicted that his daughter Helena (one of Michael's elder sisters) would become a nun (which she did, known as Sister Mary Celestine, based in Whitby). He then turned to the family and told them to take care of Michael, because "One day he'll be a great man. He'll do great work for Ireland."
Collins was a bright and precocious child, with a fiery temper and a passionate feeling of nationalism. This was spurred on by a local blacksmith James Santry and later at the Lisavaird National School by a local school headmaster, Denis Lyons, a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). Lyons and the blacksmith Santry were Michael's first tutors in giving him a sense of pride of the Irish as a race. Throughout Michael Collins brief life, Irishness was the thing that held the greatest meaning for him.