Two recently uncovered letters written by Michael Collins to his fiancée Kitty Kiernan from London have revealed the Irish patriot's secret regret at swapping a quiet life for war and politics.
Collins, who was assassinated in 1922 during the Irish Civil War, had been engaged to Catherine Brigid 'Kitty' Kiernan for less than a year at the time of his death.
His letters to her were written while Collins met with Winston Churchill in London to discuss the controversial Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed the year before in 1921.
"Ireland will have cause to remember her present-day extremists,” Collins wrote in one of the letters, dated June 1, 1922.
"The whole thing is ghastly but I'll tell you more about it when I see you. It was only after my scribble yesterday I heard of (fellow Sinn Féin politician) Joe McGuinness' death.
"He is a great loss to us but apart from that I feel the personal loss much more keenly. He was the one most responsible for the recent peace. It makes the present position all the more tragic."
Collins did not live long enough to wed his sweetheart, as just two months later he was shot and killed by anti-treaty forces in Béal na Bláth, Co. Cork.
In another letter to Kiernan, dated March 31, 1922, Collins wrote: "I am not very sanguine about the future from any point of view. We have however secured release of all the prisoners.
"But the news from Ireland is very bad and the 'powers that be' here are getting very alarmed and there may be a bust up any moment.
"Were it not for the awful consequences I'd almost welcome it".
The Easter Rising rebel and Sinn Féin man, who was just 31 at the time of his death, profoundly added: "It would be so pleasant to be relieved of all responsibility — yet one has the responsibility it would be cowardly to shirk from standing up to it.
"The whole business is casting a gloom over me and in spite of what is a big human hope I cannot keep thinking that as a people we are destined to go on dreaming, vainly hoping, striving to no purpose until we are all gone."