#OTD in 1920 – Kevin Barry is arrested after IRA Volunteers ambushed a lorry full of British Soldiers on Church St, Dublin.

Fuair siad bás ar son Saoirse na hÉireann!

Eighteen year old medical student Kevin Barry is captured following an ambush on British troops in Dublin in which one soldier is killed. On 1 November 1920, he would become the first Irish rebel to be executed by Britain since the 1916 executions, thus cementing his place in history.

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 AM, 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 PM.”

He is one of a group of IRA members executed in 1920–21 collectively known as The Forgotten Ten. 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 October 14, 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.

Barry is also commemorated in an eponymously titled song that every Irish school boy had drilled into him. The song has been covered by numerous Irish bands including The Wolfe Tones, the Dubliners and The Irish Brigade. Barry’s execution is also mentioned in the folk song Rifles of the IRA written by Dominic Behan in 1968.

Featured Image | The 15-year-old schoolboy, Kevin Barry, playing rugby at Lansdowne Road in 1917


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