During the negotiations that preceded the Truce that ended the War of Independence, the British had demanded that Tom Barry be handed over to them before progress could be made on other matters. Michael Collins refused. Barry opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 6 December 1921, because, according to him, it betrayed the Irish Republic and partitioned Ireland. He fought on the Republican side in the Irish Civil War (1922–1923) and was imprisoned by the Irish Free State after the Battle of Dublin in July 1922. Barry had voiced the opinion that, at the start of the Civil War, while the Republican side was stronger, they should have taken over Dublin and the major cities and forced a new confrontation with the British.
On 28 September of that year, he escaped from an internment camp at Gormanston and travelled south, to take command of the anti-Treaty IRA Second Southern Division. In November 1922, he led his men in the capture of a string of towns across the south midlands, including Carrick-on-Suir, Thomastown and Mullinavat, taking the Free State garrison their prisoner. However, due to a shortage of men and equipment, he was unable to hold these places, evacuating them before National Army reinforcements arrived. After this point, Barry increasingly argued with Liam Lynch, the Republican Commander-In-Chief, that the Civil War should be brought to an end, as there was no hope of victory. In March, Barry proposed to the IRA Army executive that a ceasefire should be called, but he was defeated by 6 votes to 5. The anti-treaty campaign was belatedly called off by Frank Aiken in May, after Liam Lynch had been killed in a skirmish with Free State troops. Tom Barry was arrested shortly before Aiken’s order to “dump arms”, on 24 May 1923.
Featured photo: Tom Barry and The Boys of Kilmichael circa 1966
Photo: Commander of the 3rd West Cork Flying Column; one of the greatest military tacticians ever to grace our shores; master of guerrilla warfare; IRA Chief-of-Staff—Tom Barry, photo colourised by: 1916 Easter Revolution in Colour