Commandant Michael Fitzgerald, who was educated at the CBS in Fermoy before finding work at a local mill, joined the Irish Volunteers in 1914 and played an instrumental role in helping to build the local organisation, rising to the rank of Battalion Commandant, 1st Battalion, Cork No 2 Brigade of the IRA. On Easter Sunday, 1919 he led a small group of volunteers who captured the RIC barracks in Araglin. However, he was subsequently arrested and jailed for three months. He took up arms again following his release in August and was a member of the party that held up a party of British troops at the Wesleyan Church in Fermoy. Following the September, 1919 attack a number of local volunteers were arrested and detained. However, despite the threat of heavy penalties, no jury could be empowered to try the prisoners and they remained in custody at Cork Jail. On August 11, 1920 Michael Fitzgerald, together with a number of other untried prisoners, began a hunger strike for release, which ended in his death sixty-seven days later. When he died his remains were brought by his comrades to the Church of S.S. Peter and Paul in the city centre. His funeral next day was attended by an arrogant display of force and disregard by the British Military, for the people who had come to pay their last tributes. After the mass, British military wearing steel helmets and carrying fixed bayonets, invaded the church and walked over the seats to the altar rails. An officer with a drawn revolver handed a notice to the priest to the effect that only a limited number of persons would be allowed to take part in the funeral. A machine gun was mounted at the church gates and armoured cars toured the vicinity. Notwithstanding the threats and the menacing attitude of the military, thousands took part in the funeral procession. Armoured cars and lorries carrying heavily equipped forces shadowed the cortege to the city boundary.