Glasnevin Stories - Kevin Barry

    Tuesday 1st November 2022

    Kevin Barry, Irish Volunteer

    Today we remember Kevin Barry, "just a lad of eighteen summers", who was executed on November 1st, 1920.

    Barry was born in Dublin in 1902 to a family of dairy farmers originally from Co. Carlow. While attending Belvedere College, Barry won a scholarship to study medicine at University College Dublin, and as a teenager, became a member of the 1st Battalion of the Dublin Brigade of the Irish Volunteers. He was also the youngest member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

    Kevin Barry and the War of Independence

    During the War of Independence, Barry became heavily involved in IRA operations, and on September 20th, 1920, he was involved in an ambush on a British Army lorry in the city centre of Dublin. Though they intended on simply capturing the weapons, shots were ultimately fired, and in the battle which followed, three soldiers were killed.

    During the fight, Barry's gun jammed, and he went under the army lorry to clear it. As he did so, his comrades had escaped, and a member of the public, thinking that the young man would be run over if the lorry drove off, alerted the British soldiers.

    "Just a lad of eighteen summers"

    Barry was subsequently arrested, and in the secret Court Martial which followed, refused to give any information on his comrades or offer any defence. Instead, he announced, "as a soldier of the Irish Republic, I refuse to recognise the court". He was found guilty and sentenced to death at Mountjoy Jail.

    On November 1st, 1920, Kevin Barry was executed by hanging at the age of 18—the first execution since the leaders of the 1916 Rising. After a lengthy campaign to give Barry and his executed comrades a dignified burial, in 2001, their remains were reinterred in Glasnevin Cemetery, following a full state funeral.

    Learn more on the Irish History Tour at Glasnevin Cemetery

    Today, the grave of Kevin Barry is among the most visited in Glasnevin Cemetery. To learn more about his life, why not join our Irish History Tour of the cemetery?

    Irish History Tour in Glasnevin Cemetery