It would be lovely to see this film, if anyone has access to it -

In 1921 during the War of Independence, the IRA capture and destroy a Royal Irish Constabulary barracks and raise the Irish flag above the burning building. They take three policemen prisoner, but one escapes. The IRA Flying Column marches off, watched by the escapee. He sends a signal to a motorised British Army patrol indicating the location of the IRA column. The Army moves forward to ambush the IRA, but the IRA are alerted by the sound of the vehicles and fire on the soldiers from an embankment. During the engagement, two IRA men are captured, while the others escape. Children play in the ruins of the barracks.

A few weeks later at a village church, a woman courier brings a message to local IRA men attending mass. The message from the commandant orders them to report for duty immediately. They go to the mountains where the commandant tells them they are detailed to guard two British prisoners. They retrieve their weapons from hiding and go to an isolated cottage. There, one of the prisoners is playing an accordion, while the other gives them a friendly greeting. The old woman who lives in the cottage remains wary of them all. Quickly, guards and prisoners are on easy terms, eating and playing cards together.

In Mountjoy Jail, the two IRA men await trial, and are then sentenced to death. The IRA courier leaves the IRA headquarters, Vaughan's Hotel, Parnell Square, Dublin, and takes a message to the IRA commandant in the country. He goes to a Ceilidhe Dia Domhnaigh (Sunday Dance) where he signals to an IRA man there to leave. At the cottage, the guards are shown the note from the Adjutant General of the IRA. If the two IRA prisoners are executed on the following morning, the note reads, the two British prisoners are to be executed at sunset as a reprisal. When they return to the cottage, the two guards are depressed and subdued. One of them declares to the other that it 'must be stopped' and he decides to go to the city. He cycles to Dublin where a crowd is holding a vigil outside Mountjoy Jail. The cock crows at dawn and one of the IRA prisoners is taken from his cell to be hanged. The crowd drops to its knees when a prison guard comes out with the Governor's notice that the men, George McGrath and Kevin Maher, have been executed. The IRA guard arrives after the sign has been displayed.

Meanwhile at the cottage, the other IRA guard realises as the British prisoners wake up that the IRA men have been executed. The other guard cycles back to the cottage. Later in the day, the IRA leaders arrive and tell the guards to take out the British prisoners. The guards go to the cottage where they order the prisoners to leave, as the old woman realises that something is amiss. A grave is being dug on a nearby hill as the prisoners prepare to leave. After saying goodbye to the woman, they go to the hillside where they gradually realise that they are to be executed. One of the prisoners puts a blindfold over his eyes, while the other pleads for his life. After the executions, the IRA men return to the cottage where the old woman prays, while they sit dejectedly at the fireside.

This film was the first screen appearance of Barry Fitzgerald.

Peter Mc