A Chairde, Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!
While the militaries of the world prepare for parades on St. Patrick’s Day, it is important to remember that not all formal parades are joyful ones. This wonderful document from the Bureau of Military History describes the protocol surrounding the funeral of General Michael Collins, TD. http://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/document-of-the-month/2012/august
It is a prime example of how little has changed in armies in ninety years. The document describes how the officers would ‘parade at Portobello [Cathal Brugha] Barracks, for rehearsal on Saturday at 4pm and on Sunday at 12 noon. Funeral procession will take place on Sunday evening from the City Hall to the Pro-Cathedral, and on Monday to Glasnevin.’
It is noteworthy that even in what must have been the depths of their grief, at the loss of not only their leader but also their comrade, the Free State Army rallied and prepared to render honours to the fallen warrior. Also one can determine two things from this document; firstly, that two separate practices would imply that not all of these officers were familiar with the formal funeral drill. A not unreasonable assumption for a newly formed military, previously versed in guerrilla warfare.
Secondly and more importantly, we can draw the conclusion that two shorter practices were required rather than a single longer one. This implies that the Army could not do without the services of nine senior officers during a time of civil strife. It speaks volumes about the state of the country in the immediate aftermath of the killing of Michael Collins.