Michael Collins’ Train Ride

Contextual Information

Time of Interview: April 22nd, 7:30 p.m.

Location of Interview: Interior of Arts and Humanities Study Lounge via Telephone

Informant’s first encounter w/ folklore: Studying in Trinity College Library, 2011

When folklore is performed: Amongst friends in public places such as coffee shops, bars, etc.



“A good historical story would be the story of Michael Collins when he was the leader of the Irish resistance against British Occupation in 1919-1921. He was a leader of the resistance and a talented mastermind, known for picking off enemy leaders and engaging against armies much better armed than he was. He was the most wanted man in Ireland, and there was a time when he had escaped from a holding cell and he managed to attack a British soldier one night and steal his clothes. He was known as a master of disguise, and he disguised himself as British soldier and then jumped onto a train convoy full of British soldiers who were just arriving in Ireland to come looking for him. He then rode this train back to Dublin, riding with this army, and went completely unnoticed.”


Michael Collins was the leader of the IRA from 1919 to 1922, and serves as a hero for most Irish nationalists. His stories bring to life the conflict between the Irish and the English, often used as a means to inspire other Irishmen to action or to simply reflect on the ideals of an Irish citizen. The stories are also used as a means to incite fear in the English. In the case of this particular story, the resolution suggests that if Michael Collins can disguise himself as one of them, perhaps other Irish supporters are hidden amongst the British ranks, inciting distrust and anxiety amongst the Irish opposition.