Donegal-based writer publishes novel to mark death of Michael Collins

A novel by Donegal author Sean Hillen based on verified facts surrounding the murder of Michael Collins has been published today, exactly one hundred years after the death of the famous Irish revolutionary.

“Complete mystery still surrounds the circumstances under which Collins was killed by a single bullet to the head in an ambush, with more questions than answers still unanswered all these years later,” said Sean, who worked at the United Nations Media Center in New York. and has been a journalist for The Irish Times and The Irish Echo.

“I have conducted extensive research into the situation at the time, gleaned from a wide range of historical sources and woven them into a plausible – and what I hope readers consider – thrilling story of a story involving some of the main people and organizations around at this time in the 1920s.

He added: “My fictionalized story is based largely on scholarly and eyewitness accounts of what would have happened on that fateful day, with a dash of poetic license to generate suspense and excitement. Without giving away the plot, it has a strong modern tone.

As part of his research for his novel “Driver’s Diary – Death At Mouth Of The Flowers”, Sean visited Béal na Bláth, a small village in Cork, which gained notoriety as the site of the fateful ambush, and also spoke to officials at the Michael Collins House Museum located in a Georgian mansion in the center of Clonakilty.

He also read several biographies, not only of Michael Collins but also of Eamon De Valera, including books by Tim Pat Coogan, a well-respected writer, historian and editor of De Valera’s owned newspaper, The Irish Press, during over 20 years.

“The death of a national figure like Michael Collins was both tragic and transformational,” said Sean, who together with his wife, Columbia, created the “Ireland Writing Retreat” in Bun na Leaca, Gweedore.

“Under his leadership the Republic of Ireland would probably have been created on a more secular than religious basis, more in line with the ideals of the Irish rebels executed in 1916 such as James Connolly, Éamonn Ceannt, Seán MacDiarmada and Padraig Pearse.

It is well known that De Valera invited not only the cardinals and archbishops of Ireland to participate in the drafting of the country’s very first constitution, but also the pope and his chief advisers in Rome. The outcome of the special place of the Church in the Constitution was therefore inevitable, with socialism at the bottom of the list of priorities. Due to his strained relationship with the clergy, however, I suspect Collins would never have accepted this.

Sean’s novel is available at for a limited time.