1920 – Kevin Barry, an 18-year-old medical student, is hanged in Dublin for his part in a raid in which six soldiers were killed.

Fuair siad bás ar son Saoirse na hÉireann.

Kevin Barry was 18 years old when he was hanged in Mountjoy Jail on 1st November 1920. His death at such a young age is possibly the most poignant in Irish history. He is one of a group of IRA members executed in 1920-21 collectively known as The Forgotten Ten.

He was born in 1902 in Dublin and grew up both in the capital and in Co Carlow. He enrolled in Belvedere College in 1916 and joined the Irish Volunteers. In 1919 he enrolled in Dublin University to study medicine. The War of Independence was developing and Barry, as Section Commander, played his part in various raids around Dublin city.

On the morning of 20 September 1920, Kevin Barry went to Mass, and received Holy Communion; he then joined a party of IRA volunteers on Bolton Street in Dublin. Their orders were to ambush a British army truck as it picked up a delivery of bread from the bakery, and capture their weapons. The ambush was scheduled for 11:00 A.M., which gave him enough time to take part in the operation and return to class in time for an examination he had at 2:00 P.M.

The Forgotten Ten is the term applied to ten members of the Irish Republican Army who were executed in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin by British forces following courts-martial from 1920–1921 during the Irish War of Independence. Based upon military law at the time, they were buried within the prison precincts, their graves unmarked in the unconsecrated ground. The names of the Forgotten Ten are Kevin Barry, Patrick Moran, Frank Flood, Thomas Whelan, Thomas Traynor, Patrick Doyle, Thomas Bryan, Bernard Ryan, Edmond Foley and Patrick Maher. The executions were carried out by John Ellis, one of the United Kingdom’s hangmen at that time.

Plans to exhume the bodies of the ten men were announced on 1 November 2000, the 80th anniversary of the execution of Kevin Barry. On 14 October 2001, the Forgotten Ten were afforded full state honours, with a private service at Mountjoy Prison for the families of the dead, a requiem mass at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral and burial in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Kevin Barry is commemorated in an eponymously titled song that every Irish school boy had drilled into him by the Christian Brothers. The song has been covered by numerous Irish bands including Wolfe Tones Official Fan Page, The Dubliners and The Irish Brigade.

Photo credit: 1916 Easter Revolution in Colour


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