They were commanded by Mick Leahy. This is reported as the first ‘official’ attack on an RIC barracks.
The attack on Carrigtwohill RIC barracks, which resulted in its capture on 2 January 1920, lasted over three hours. It was the first serious engagement undertaken by the East Cork volunteers from Midleton and Cobh under Commandant Mick Leahy, Battalion O/C.
The strongly fortified barracks, situated at the city end of the village, appeared almost impregnable, especially when considering the limited amount of arms and equipment available to the attackers. The Midleton unit was reliant on twelve revolvers for which ammunition had been bought in Belfast, although the Cobh men were more fortunate in that they had a few rifles. A quantity of gelignite was also in the possession of the attackers, which was utilised to good effect during the attack.
Having been given their instructions, the volunteers occupied their positions at around 9 pm. and awaited the signal to attack. Telephone wires were cut between the barracks and neighbouring enemy posts. The two men detailed for this operation were spotted by two patrolling R.I.C. men who attempted to arrest them. However, the volunteers eluded the R.I.C. who then retreated to the barracks and gave the alarm. Sergeant Scott attempted to telephone for help but found that he was too late, as the wires had already been cut. Realising the seriousness of their situation the policemen quickly closed the steel shutters that protected the windows, the doors were barricaded and defensive positions taken.
The I.R.A. group at the rear of the barracks began the attack with a volley of shots. They were protected by a five-foot wall which adjoined a hay barn. Volunteers had also taken up positions inside the barn itself. Return fire from the garrison poured through the openings in the steel shutters. Exchanges of fire continued until midnight. About that time the attackers managed to place a charge of gelignite in the gable-end wall of the barrack, which adjoined the barn. The sound of the explosion reverberated throughout the district. An entrance was blasted in the defences of the barracks, and Commandant Diarmuid O’Hurley, Joseph Aherne and Tadhg Manley led the advance into the breach, followed by other members of the attacking force. The ground floor room was deserted.
The R.I.C. had retreated to the upper storey of the building so O’Hurley and his men then blazed through the ceiling. Not long afterwards a white flag answered another demand for surrender by Commandant O’Hurley. The East Cork I.R.A. men were jubilant as the R.I.C. came down the stairs with their hands above their heads. Captured bombs, rifles, revolvers, and ammunition were placed in a motor car and transferred to a secure location. At daylight villagers stood at the doors of their houses, discussing the events of the previous night, culminating in the capture of Carrigtwohill R.I.C. barracks.