photo illustration and historical event reconstruction by John Herriott
  an Eye on the Past  
  Bealnablath 1922   aerial photo illustration      
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Bealnablath 1922 digital reconstruction of
the ambush site where Michael Collins was shot dead.

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Bealnablath 22 August 1922
finished photo illustration
Above is an illustrated reconstruction of a scene from the most significant military engagement of the Irish Civil War when on the 22nd August 1922 Michael Collins, Commander in Chief of the pro treaty army while returning from West Cork was killed when his convoy was ambushed by anti treaty forces at Beal na Blath, Co Cork.

'Collins 22' is an historical society focusing on the life and times of Michael Collins.
We discussed the feasibility of recreating a 1922 depiction of the scene through the use
of aerial photography and by using various digital techniques to show how the ambush site would have appeared on the day. The historical information provided meant I had to consider the weather conditions, time of day and positions of the various vehicles and protagonists to better understand the dynamics of the skirmish itself which might in some way go to answering why certain decisions were made and why events unfolded as they did.

Based on some file aerial photography from 2010 of the location and by referring to old maps contemporary to the time showing field patterns, roads, land use etc., I devised the above aerial view of the scene by using 'Bealnablath 2010' ( next ) and other file photography to build up a picture and 'set the stage' on which this important piece of Irish history played out.

To see a larger version of this visit the website

Bealnablath 2010


Above is a cropped section of the full view photographed in 2010 on which the photo
illustration (top) is based. Even at the size shown here can give a good impression of
the significant changes made over the years.
The trees across the road for instance, from the monument ( west ) were partly cleared in 2012 to cater for the crowds on the day of the 90th anniversary commemeration and so even this picture is already out of date.

Bealnablath 1922 close up    
to updates close up aerial photo 1922  
  Here is a closer view of the ambush site.
Point '7' indicates the location on the road where Michael Collins was shot.
'5' indicates the touring car that he travelled in and '6' is the armoured car.
The machine gun was jammed in too high a position and so the rear of the ' Sliabh na mBan' armoured car needed to be higher than the front to lower the angle of fire which
explains its position here shows it backed onto the higher road margin.
'B' is approximately the point from where the fatal shot was fired.
Left of picture is north to Bealnablath village and right of picture heads south to Bandon.
John Herriott photography, Kilbeg, Bandon, Co Cork :: tel; +353 23 8841455 :: fax; +353 23 8852353 :: mobile; +353 86 8110280 / 2006 to present; website design and content by John Herriott

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