Kevin Barry (1902 – 1920) – A Teenage Volunteer

Kevin Barry HIstory

In October 1917 a young boy of fifteen years put himself forward to fight for the freedom of Ireland with the Irish Republican Army (IRA). His name was Kevin Barry and it would be a name that would echo through the years that followed his story.
As like many other volunteers Kevin Barry was set tasks throughout Dublin and the surrounding areas and was soon secretly training for a larger range of activities with the IRA. By the age of 16, keeping in mind he was still attending full time education, he was organising raids in British warehouses and his most successful raid seen the kidnapping of 25 British Soldiers, which led him to a major promotion to Section Commander.

Kevin Barry’s path of military success was to be short lived however as in September 1920, he organised a raid which went horribly wrong. Whilst attempting to ambush British Soldiers and loot their ammunition, a street gun battle began and ended in the deaths of the 3 British Soldiers.

The capture of Kevin Barry

Photo of Kevin BarryA significant moment as the last British deaths in Ireland happened in 1916. Barry was captured (it is said he was found hiding under a large vehicle) and was very quickly passed the death sentence.

For most of those who knew this young boy it was a shock to find out that he had been a member of the IRA let alone organised countless number of raids on the British Army. And as he was only eighteen years old when the death sentence was given, the majority of people did not believe that the execution would be followed through as he was so young.

However, after being taken to Mountjoy Prison stories started to circulate about his torture. The British were keen to get any information on the IRA including names, places etc and promised Kevin Barry his life if he gave them even a bit of information. He refused and therefore they began to torture him.

However, he was to remain loyal to his comrades and ‘The Cause’ and was hanged on the 1st of November 1920 on the grounds of Mountjoy Prison. A month after his death the Government of Ireland Act of 1920 was introduced that would see the partition of Ireland.

This article was first published on 17-03-2013 and last modified on 26-03-2016.

About the Author

Brian O’Neill
With a passion for traditional music Brian is never one to miss a good session. When not studying for exams he spends his time playing the bodhrán, something he's be doing since a kid. Brian is a regular contributor and author for YourIrish.com