President Higgins pays tribute to Michael Collins at Béal na mBláth

He is the first sitting Head of State to deliver the speech at the historical county Cork location

Michael D Higgins, London, visit, 1916, commemorations, Ambassador Dan Mulhall, Archive of the Irish in Britain

President Michael D Higgins at the opening of the new Military Archives Facility at Cathal Brugha Barracks in Dublin | Image: Flickr/Irish Defence Forces

President Michael D. Higgins has said Ireland should participate in a frank and honest commemoration of the Irish War of Independence as the centenary approaches.

The President made the comments during the annual Michael Collins oration at Béal na mBláth.

In his speech, President Higgins urged the people of Ireland to display "courage and honesty" as the time to commemorate the events of the early 1920s draws near and to "seek to speak the truth of the period".

Speaking about Michael Collins he said he was "a person of extraordinary talent [...] energetic, committed, pragmatic, with a zest for life and companionship, and the robust rural version of that companionship."

He said that Michael Collins memory will be forever "enmeshed with that of the tragic and bloody Civil War which raged on this island throughout the years 1922-1923".

President Higgins is the first sitting Head of State to deliver the speech at the historical county Cork location, where Michael Collins was shot dead on August 22nd 1922.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar delivered an oration at the 94th annual commemoration of Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith at Glasnevin Cemetery earlier today.

The event was marked by the raising of the of the National Flag at the Sigerson Monument, and the laying of wreaths at the grave of Michael Collins by Minister Varadkar, and the grave of Arthur Griffith by Cllr. Paddy McCartan on behalf of the Lord Mayor of Dublin.