On Sunday 16 August 2015 Glasnevin Trust hosted the annual Collins-Griffith commemoration, marking the deaths of both Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins in August 1922. It was followed by the annual Roger Casement Lecture.
Each year, in mid-August, the Collins-Griffith Commemoration Society organises the ceremony at Glasnevin Cemetery to commemorate the lives and legacies of two of the chief architects of the Irish Free State. Arthur Griffith (1872-1922) was the politician and journalist who founded and later led the political party Sinn Féin. He served as President of Dáil Éireann from January to August 1922, and was head of the Irish delegation at the negotiations in London that led to the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. Collins (1890-1922) was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and TD in the first Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence of the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, in early 1922 he became both Chairman of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-chief of the National Army. He was shot and killed on 22 August 1922 in an ambush at Beal na Bláth, in west Cork. Both Collins and Griffith are buried in Glasnevin.
The annual oration at the graveside of Michael Collins was given by the former editor of The Irish Times, Conor Brady. Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation laid a wreath on behalf of the Government at the grave of General Collins, and stated that ‘Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith laid the foundations for the democratic Irish state we live in today. The annual commemoration provides an important opportunity to honour their memory and legacy and it is fitting that the event is now included as part of the Governments programme for the ‘Decade of Commemoration’. I wish to acknowledge the presence and participation of the Irish Defence Forces, honouring General Collins, their first Commander-in-Chief’. As part of the Defence Force’s participation, the armoured car ‘Sliabh na mBan’ was also present; it formed part of Michael Collins’ convoy which was ambushed on 22 August 1922 at Béal na mBláth in West Cork, resulting in his death.
Simon Harris TD, Minister at the Department of Finance PER and Taoiseach with Special Responsibility for OPW, Public Procurement, and International Banking (incl IFSC), laid a wreath on behalf of the Government at the grave of President Griffith, observing that ‘as we progress through the ‘Decade of Centenaries’, it is even more important that we continue to acknowledge these two giants of the Irish Free State’.
Following the wreath laying ceremony, a new portrait of Michael Collins, by Belfast artist Noel Murphy, was unveiled in the Glasnevin Cemetery Museum gallery. The Collins-Griffith commemoration was followed by the Roger Casement commemoration, the highlight of which was the annual Roger Casement lecture, which marks the death of the humanitarian and republican Sir Roger Casement (1864-1916), who was executed in London on 3 August 1916 and re-interred in Glasnevin in 1966. This years lecture was delivered by Conor Dodd, resident historian at Glasnevin Trust, and was entitled ‘Murder or execution? The final year and death of Roger Casement’.