Kevin Barry: ‘Soldier of the Irish Republic’

Today marks the 101 anniversary of the execution of IRA Volunteer Kevin Barry. To mark that event, a young Socialist Republican has penned the following tribute in his honour.

On Sunday November 7, Socialist Republicans in Carlow will host the annual Vol. Kevin Barry commemoration at 1pm in Rathvilly. Bígí Ann.


Kevin Barry was born on January 20th 1902 in Dublin and moved to Carlow at a young age with his mother and siblings following the death of his father. He later moved back to Dublin at the age of 13 for school and it was during this time that his Republican beliefs began to grow and he expressed his desire to join Na Fianna Éireann.

Involvement in the Republican Movement

At the age of 15 while in Belvedere college Kevin Barry joined C company, 1st Battalion of the Dublin brigade of the IRA. Following a reorganisation Barry was later assigned to H company and while on holidays from school back home in Carlow Barry was attached to the C company of the 3rd battalion Carlow brigade.

Despite his young age Kevin Barry was involved in a number of IRA operations prior to his arrest including several raids of RIC and British military outposts, the most significant of which was a raid at the Kings Inn on Constitution Hill in Dublin, a daring ambush in which a selected team of Volunteers from all battalions of the Dublin brigade ambushed 25 British soldiers and seized all their weapons and ammunition within a matter of minutes.

Socialist Beliefs

Kevin Barry also expressed Socialist beliefs in his writings a notable example been in an essay which he wrote on the Dublin lockout of 1913 during his final year in Belvedere college at the young age of 17, in this essay Barry described the lockout as a  “forcible demonstration of the power of Labour and had an experience also of the power of agitation in the person of that marvellous leader James Larkin and his able lieutenant, Commandant James Connolly”

Monks Bakery Ambush

On September 20th 1920, Barry and a number of IRA Volunteers assembled on Bolton Street with a plan to ambush a British army lorry that was known by IRA to take trips Monks bakery.

As the lorry pulled in the volunteers surrounded it and a gun battle ensued.
Three British soldiers were killed two of whom died later after the battle from their wounds.

During the battle Kevin Barry’s gun jammed and he took cover under a British army lorry, Barry was later found and arrested by the British army.

Torture Trial and Execution

Following his arrest Kevin Barry was interrogated and tortured by members of the Lancashire fusiliers however despite this he refused to give them any information beyond his name address and occupation and would not comply with their demands to give up his comrades.

Kevin Barry gave a sworn affidavit in Mountjoy Gaol describing his treatment by british troops.

The affidavit is as follows

“He tried to persuade me to give the names, and I persisted in refusing. He then sent the sergeant out of the room for a bayonet. When it was brought in the sergeant was ordered by the same officer to point the bayonet at my stomach … The sergeant then said that he would run the bayonet into me if I did not tell The same officer then said to me that if I persisted in my attitude he would turn me out to the men in the barrack square, and he supposed I knew what that meant with the men in their present temper. I said nothing. He ordered the sergeants to put me face down on the floor and twist my arm When I lay on the floor, one of the sergeants knelt on my back, the other two placed one foot each on my back and left shoulder, and the man who knelt on me twisted my right arm, holding it by the wrist with one hand, while he held my hair with the other to pull back my head. The arm was twisted from the elbow joint. This continued, to the best of my judgment, for five minutes. It was very painful I still persisted in refusing to answer these questions A civilian came in and repeated the questions, with the same result. He informed me that if I gave all the information I knew I could get off”.

On October 20th Kevin Barry was put on trial in a British military court.

Kevin Barry refused to recgonize it’s claim of authority, stating “as a soldier of the Irish Republic I refuse to recognise the court”.

He was convicted on 3 counts of murder despite his weapon on the day not been a match to the bullets retrieved from the body of the British soldier private whitehead.

Kevin Barry was sentenced to death with his execution set for November 1st

On November 1st 1920 Kevin Barry was hanged in Mountjoy Gaol, shortly before his death Barry stated to a friend, “It is nothing, to give one’s life for Ireland. I’m not the first and maybe I won’t be the last. What’s my life compared with the cause?

This statement by Barry showed he did not fear what was to come and was willing to give up his life as a soldier of the Irish Republic despite only been 18 years old.


It has been 101 years since Kevin Barry gave up his life for the Irish Republic and since then many more have followed in his footsteps and paid the ultimate sacrifice so that our country will one they be free from foreign occupation and interference.

Martyrs like Kevin Barry although long gone continue to inspire Irish Socialist Republicans as we continue the struggle for national liberation and the role that Barry in the struggle despite his young age will continue to inspire the youth of Ireland to play their part in the struggle for Irish Freedom.

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