In late 1918 Michael Collins spoke at a concert in Summerhill and later attended an IRA Brigade Council meeting.
One month before the truce Collins was in Dunboyne at Brady’s Public house and addressed a group of IRA Brigade Intelligence Officers, including Michael Hilliard. Collins questioned each Intelligence Officer individually.
Michael Collins used the residence of Mr. J.J. McCarthy of Courthill, Dunboyne as a safe retreat from time to time as did other GHQ officers.
Dunboyne man, Sean Boylan, was very close to Michael Collins and some described him as “Mick Collins’ right hand man.” Boylan probably met Collins when they were both interned in Frognoch after the 1916 rising. In September 1917 Boylan organised an Irish festival, an aeriocht, on his farm and Michael Collins and William T. Cosgrave attended in order to recruit volunteers.
As military leader Michael Collins was involved in the planning and resourcing of some of the attack on the Crown Forces by the Meath Volunteers. In late October 1919 Collins was involved in the planning of the attacks on the police stations at Ballivor and Lismullen by the Meath Volunteers. Mick Collins was informed of the planned attack on Trim Barracks by Sean Boylan in August 1920. In a major and bold attack the barracks was captured and burned on Sunday 26th September 1920.
According to local sources Michael Collins visited Matt and Joe Ledwith in Baskinagh, Athboy twice and later visited them when they were in Kilmainham Gaol when he told them that he had no option but to sign the Treaty.
In the spring of 1921 Michael Collins received information from one of his men in Dublin castle that Summerhill House was to be occupied by the Black and Tans. Orders were given for the house to be burned down.
Michael Collins was due to attend an aeriocht in Athboy in 1921 but as the Treaty negotiations were going on he had to send his apologies. Many Meath Volunteers favoured the Treaty because of their support for Michael Collins.
In January 1922 Michael Collins appointed Meath man, Eamonn Duggan, as Minister for Home Affairs in the first Provisional Government. Eight months later the Big Fellow was dead.
Michael Collins, Commander in Chief of the National Army and President of the Provisional Government, was killed at Béal na mBláth on 22 August 1922. His body was brought to the City Hall in Dublin where it lay in state for three days. His funeral took place on the 28 August from the Pro-Cathedral to Glasnevin cemetery and was attended by up to half a million people.
When news reached Navan of Collin’s death the reaction was one of shock, in particular as Collins had visited the town some weeks previously.
Shops and businesses throughout the county closed from 11.00 to noon on the day of the funeral. More than ten local priests attended the funeral ceremonies including Rev. Nicholas Cooney, administrator of Navan.
All the local councils passed votes of sympathy. Navan Urban Council appointed four of its members to attend the funeral, in all seven members attended the funeral as well as the town clerk. Large numbers of people from Navan, Kells and Trim attended the funeral. At a special meeting of Navan Town Council the chairman, Seaghan MacNaMidhe, expressed the profound sorrow of the council at the death of Michael Collins ‘one of Ireland’s most distinguished and devoted sons’ and described his death as ‘a terrible loss to the nation.’
The chairman and vice-chairman of Meath County Council and other members attended the funeral ceremonies. In Trim the troops of the 1st Eastern Division attended Requiem Mass in the local church along with the congregation, which was composed of almost the entire population of the town, before parading through the main streets headed by the Navan Brass and Reed band playing ‘The Death March’. At noon the trumpeters played ‘The Last Post’ and three volleys were fired.
In Kells all business was suspended at 11.00 o’clock and a Requiem Mass was held in the church. The children of Lord and Lady Headfort assisted at the Mass. Following Mass the local company of soldiers paraded through the town as the local band played ‘The Death March’. A large crowd of all denominations followed the parade to the Green where ‘The Last Post’ was played and three volleys of shots fired.