It was around 4 pm on a chilly Sunday afternoon in Garrylaurence, Clonmult, County Cork. Irish Volunteers Michael Desmond (left) and John Joe Joyce talked excitedly as they stood around the farmhouse well filling their comrade’s canteens The two 22 year-olds from Midleton were animated as young men can be in war, because they knew they and the rest of the Active Service Unit (Flying Column) of the 4th Battalion of the Cork No. 1 (East) Brigade were about to head south to set up an ambush at Cobh station on the Cork-Youghal railway line. The young men’s excited conversation came to an abrupt halt as they observed movement a short distance away. It was soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment under the command of Lieutenant A. R. Koe, moving to surround the house
On February 20, 1921 the Republican movement suffered its worst defeat, in terms of battle deaths, of the Irish War of Independence. It was one that would leave the people of Midleton mourning for eight of their native sons and rip the heart of of the Volunteer movement in the Cobh, Midleton, Youghal area.