How Civil War foes became friends to the end

It’s a story which has made grown men cry; a member of the Beál na mBláth ambush party who afterwards reconciled with Michael Collins’s brother now lies next to him in a West Cork graveyard.

How Civil War foes became friends to the end

Next weekend, a special ceremony will remember the extraordinary friendship which grew between two men from opposite sides of the bitter Civil War.

The ceremony in Clonakilty will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the deaths of Seán (John) Collins, brother of General Michael Collins, and Jim Hurley, who as a 20-year-old, was a member of the ambush party which mounted the attack at Beál na mBláth on August 22, 1922 in which Michael Collins was killed.

“Both men were buried at St Mary’s Cemetery in Clonakilty, and they are buried side by side,” explains Tim Crowley of the National Michael Collins Memorial Committee, one of the groups organising the event.

John Collins and Jim Hurley died within days of each other in early 1965.

“Most of the accounts you read say Jim Hurley was ill when Johnny died, and that he arranged to buy the grave next to Johnny Collins.”

The men made their peace with each other in the years following the death of Michael Collins.

Their friendship will be honoured at 2.30pm on Saturday, when members of the Collins and Hurley families lay wreaths at both graves.

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