Corry's Account of Collins' Assassination
Corry and Quinn (mentioned in his account) were two drivers who were in charge of Michael Collins' car on the day he was fatally shot in Béal na Bláth. The text below is Corry's version of what happened during the ambush. If you are interested in a text copy, please see Rex Taylor's biography, Michael Collins.
Text of Corry's Account
There were two drivers in charge of the car, M. Quinn and myself. Make of car
was a Leyland Thomas racing type, straight eight cylinder; no armour of any sort
being attached at any time to bodywork or engine; canvas top folded back to
General Collins and Major-General Emmet Dalton were seated in the back, the two drivers in the front seat.
We were aware of I.R.A. Flying Column being about at various places during our journey down to Cork; but not a shot was fired at us. We arrived in Cork city at 10:30 p.m.-- due to road obstructions, blown bridges, etc.
The day of the ambush.
Ahead of us two Crossley tenders with ten armed men in each. Also one Crossley tender containing ropes, saws, picks, food, etc., for emergency use. Lending out column a motor-cyclist guide. At the rear of our car, a Rolls Royce Whippet armoured car, name 'Slievenamon.'
Two men of the convoy observed the time of departure from Bandon town as being 8 p.m. (G.M.T.) After doing some five miles, we came around a sharp curve and were then on a straight stretch of road. A single shot rang out from across the hill on our extreme left, some 440 yards away (approximately).
General Collins' command 'Stop!' was obeyed at once. There was no obstruction on the road ahead of us at the time. On leaving our car, we were met by heavy fire; but no one was hit.
General Collins walked back some fifty yards, followed by Major-General Dalton, Quinn and myself. We took cover at a hedge or ditch about two feet high. The firing was heavy at this time from enemy position right in front. On our extreme right our men were replying. On our extreme left a clear road. At our backs a steep hillside. Firing came from directly in front only.
Major-General Dalton observed that the armoured car machine-gun was not firing. He called to the gunner, who replied, 'Gun is jammed, sir.'
Gen. Collins, who had been lying firing from a position six feet from me, now stood erect, and after firing several rounds, fell on the roadside, with a gaping wound near the left ear lobe extending to the upper section of the skull; there was also a tear in the front of the forehead, and a hole nipped in the front of his cap close to the badge.
Major-General Dalton said to me, 'The General is finished.'
We placed the body across the rear seat of the General's car; my hands holding the head, Major-General Dalton the feet of General Collins.
Firing had ceased as General Collins died on the roadside. Nightfall was coming on and there was some drizzle as we started on our eighteen miles' journey back to Cork.
According to this account,
Collins did have two wounds--one near his left ear lobe and one in the front of
his forehead. This corroborates the statement of the doctors at Shanakiel
Hospital who maintained there was an entry wound and an exit wound. But
it also contradicts Ryan's research, which says that Collins had a wound behind
his right ear. The doctors Ryan quotes in her book The Day Michael Collins
Was Shot firmly maintain there was only one wound and that no gash on
Collins' forehead was ever found. Who is right on this matter? For now, it is
impossible to know with any certainty.