Michael Collins was born on October 16th 1890, at a small farmstead in County Cork, the Irish republic. He joined the army as a captain in 1908 (he was able to buy himself a commission in the then 18,000 strong Irish army). He soon proved to be a good tactician and a strong leader. Upon the outbreak of war in 1914 Ireland remained neutral, but rapidly expanded its army in an attempt to deter a possible British invasion, consequently Collins was promoted to Major (1914) and then colonel (1916). In March 1917 he became a major general, and that November he became a full general, commander of the Dublin guard forces. Collins had always been a critic of Ireland's strong relationship with France.