The seven mile journey from Dublin’s pro-cathedral to the Big Fella’s final resting place was lined with half a million mourners, many of whom, would have differed with him on the Treaty.
After lying in State for three days, his funeral was held in Dublin on 28 August 1922 where 500,000 people turned out to pay their respects. During the ceremony, tens of thousands of people approached Collins’ coffin, including many Irish and British high ranking officers. Many British soldiers, who fought against Collins were said to have payed their respects, as well. Sackville Street (O’Connell Street today) was filled to the brim with thousands upon thousands of people who had flooded in to try and say goodbye to the Big Fella.
His convoy was ambushed while passing through Béal na Bláth, and rather than choosing to flee, Collins insisted that he and his men stand and fight. During the fracas, Collins was shot in the head and he died instantly, and the attackers escaped. Collins’ convoy decided to take his body back to Cork, but were forced to carry him on their shoulders, through muddy fields and farms because many of the roads were blocked. Their car had been wrecked by the ambush, but Collins’ men trudged 20kms back to the county capital before eventually reaching a small military hospital. Shortly afterwards, his body was sent to Dublin.
Due to the bungled nature of the aftermath of Collins’ death, there was no autopsy. So while the reported events surrounding his death are generally accepted as accurate, nothing has ever been proven.