Lord Puttnam delivers Collins oration at Béal na mBláth

The Sunday Independent records it as “a measure of close Anglo-Irish ties and the growing determination to properly address historic issues between the two countries.” Perhaps. It is certainly significant in its own way. It is also worth noting that Lord Puttnam’s [or is it Baron Puttnam of Queensgate – Ed] invitation to deliver this year’s oration at Béal na mBláth to mark the 85th anniversary of the death of Michael Collins today was, at least partly, through his friendship with Helen Hoare, a grand-niece of Michael Collins… as well as his being responsible for asking Neil Jordan to write the script which became the 1996 film, Michael Collins, for which he is credited with a Thanks to. Adds Hopefully the text of Lord Puttnam’s oration should appear online here Update Until then here’s a report from today’s Irish Times [subs req] Final update Link to David Puttnam’s speech

[Lord Puttnam] said all of his reading about Collins had led him to the conclusion that what he felt worth fighting and dying for was at the very minimum a nation “culturally and socially better, and fairer than its historical oppressor”.

“He wanted to help build something that was, in his words, ‘not like other nations’; an Ireland that could be ‘a shining light in a dark world’; and that in the raw human material, forged out of 700 years of bitter experience, Ireland had the capacity to be exactly that.”

Lord Puttnam said Michael Collins was the most wonderful example of a life suspended somewhere between history and myth.

He said society needed its heroes in order to “sustain our dreams of a better and more secure future”. He compared Collins to John F Kennedy insisting that like the US president Collins represented the future – a brighter and better future.

He said he would go to his grave believing that had he lived Michael Collins would have forged his own place alongside the likes of Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi – “men who, having freed their own people from the shackles of oppression, became icons for peace and reconciliation everywhere.”

He said history suggested that “sometimes we need our leaders to die in order to fully appreciate their importance to us.”

donate to keep slugger lit