Enda Kenny meeting supporters at Beal na Blath. Pic: Denis Boyle

THE rain held off, just, as a crowd of more than 6,000 people turned up at Beal na Blath to mark the 90th anniversary of the death of Michael Collins on that lonely stretch of road near Crookstown.

 

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny became the first serving holder of that office to deliver the address and was joined by several other senior party members to underline the significance of the anniversary.

 

Finance Minister Michael Noonan was there, as was Justice Minster Alan Shatter and Cork TDs Jim Daly and David Stanton.

 

 

Lord Mayor of Cork John Buttimer joined his county counterpart Barbara Murray and even the Lord Mayor of Dublin Naoise O’Muirí got in on the act.

 

 

More than 6,000 people attended. Pic: Denis Boyle

The top brass from the defence forces rubbed shoulders with senior members of An Garda Siochanna, as well as members of the extended Collins family.

 

 

For their part the public came from near, far and wide with buses laid on from Galway and Mayo as well as a strong West Cork contingent, as you would expect.

 

 

Making it’s first visit to the fateful spot in 90 years was the historic Rolls Royce armoured car, known as Sliabh na mBan, in which General Collins took his last journey after being fatally wounded at the ambush at Béal na Bláth in August 1922.

 

 

The army also fired an artillery salute from a field gun in honour of their first general.

 

 

During his speech the Taoiseach insisted that the Government “would not rest” until Ireland has reclaimed and restored its economic sovereignty.

 

 

Speaking to reporters he also dispelled the notion of a possible rift with coalition partners Labour following comments made by Minister Joan Burton who said that “middle Ireland” cannot take any more pain in terms of taxes and cuts.