Born 17th of December 1889 in Ballineen, County Cork too Ellen and Richard Barrett and educated as a teacher in De La Salle College, he devoted himself from early in his life to the promotion of the Irish Language and culture, being a member of the Knockavilla GAA club and even a player for them. However he would leave his normal life as a teacher when inspired by the easter rising, he would involve .himself heavily in both the Irish Volunteers and the IRB and also joining Sinn Fein, rising to prominence in both the Irish Volunteers and Sinn Fein, going to both the 1917 Sinn Fein Ard-Fheis as a delegate and also went to the Irish Volunteers meeting immediately afterwards in the same capacity.
Through his links established within the Irish Volunteers before the tan war, and due to his exceptional service as a member of the 3rd west cork brigade, he was made an active brigade staff officer and would even sometimes act as commandant of the 3rd west cork brigade. His the actions as a member of the IRA however would see him captured on the 22nd of march 1921 and imprisoned at Spike island, but would escape in november off the same year, alongside Moss Twomey, Henry O’Mahoney, Tom Crofts, Bill Quirke, Dick Eddy and Paddy Buckley.
During his time on Spike island he acted as a level head and commanding figure among his fellow soldiers, calling off a hunger strike in opposition to the 1921 capitulation due to the reasoning that having able bodied republicans ready to fight the treaty was of more importance than sacrificing themselves on Spike Island. Once free he would return to his duties as a soldier of the republic, and would be one of 200 men who, under the command of Rory O’Connor, would seize the four courts in defiance of the surrender of the pro treaty men and in defiance of the continuation of British influence in Ireland. However instead of being met by the British army they were met by the supposed ‘Irish national army’, lead by Michael Collins who began the deadly shelling of the Irish Republicans Army soldiers. After 2 days of violent fighting, the four court volunteers surrendered and Barrett was interned alongside his comrades in Mountjoy prison.
Here he would be kept for 5 months until, in an attempt to strike fear into the hearts of Irish republicans, he was ordered to be executed alongside 3 other prominent Irish republicans who had taken the four courts, Rory O’Connor,Joe McKelvey and Liam Mellows. They awoke on December 8th to find that they were no longer to be prisoners of the free state government and instead it had decided to turn them into martyrs. And so it was that the traitors of the free state government snuffed out the bright light of Irish republicanism that had been Richard Barrett at 8 o’clock on December 8th 1922 at the age of 32. However those who signed his fate did not get away with this crime completely scott free, as the butcher Kevin O’Higgins was shot down five years later in an act of retaliation for his hand in the death of 77 irish republicans.
Today Richard Barrett is remembered as what he was- a teacher, a soldier and a hero. Someone who rightfully stood by the Irish republic of 1916 and who fought to reclaim it from those who sold it out to the British government. He inspires Irish Republicans still to this day and inspires Anti Imperialist Action to carry on the banner of Irish Republicanism and the republic for which Barrett gave his life for.
Rest In Peace Richard Barret
Beir Bua agus Tiocfaidh Ár Lá!