Con’s hands shook as he held the match box which was to ignite his own tinder box. Only one flight of stairs separated him from his mates and the deathly flames. Three quick thuds on the ceiling above his head were mingled with the roar of a motor car. Headlights shone brilliantly through the broken window where Con stood. Time stopped. The match shook as he tried to strike it. Now all was confusion. Boots clattered down the single flight of stairs followed by gusts of rancid smoke, burning straw, petrol and old timber. Outside voices were raised in querulous demand. As Con’s match flickered to life, he counted three silhouettes in the confused lights of the moon, car headlights and a thick yellow haze from the staircase. He threw it into the bundle of straw, only a few feet from where he stood. A blinding burst of flame lit the empty room and sped down the path created from his petrol can. Instinctively, he followed his instructions, numb even to the shouting voices which had not been part of his briefing. As a rat from a burning haystack, he fled through the open door. In the clear night air, shots sounded only yards away, and a groan nearby made his blood run cold.
‘Lads, run for your lives, live to fight again!’ The words were Martin’s and as they ended they were followed by the voice of Colonel Kernahan, Squire of Ardmore Castle.