Kevin Barry was born on 20 January 1902, at 8 Fleet Street Dublin Ireland
When he was thirteen, he attended a commemoration for the Manchester Martyrs. The three men, members of the Fenian Brotherhood, were hanged in England in 1867, and whose cry of “God Save Ireland”, had a strong effect on him. Afterwards he wished to joinConstance Markievicz's Fianna na hEireann, but was dissuaded by his family.
From St. Mary’s College he then transferred to Belvedere College, where he was a member of the championship Junior Rugby Cup team, and earned a place on the senior team.
In October 1917, during his second year at Belvedere College, aged 15, he joined the IRA.
Assigned originally to ‘C’ Company 1st Battalion, based on the north side of Dublin, he later transferred to the newly formed ‘H’ Company, under the command of Capt. Seamus Kavanagh.
His first job as a member of the IRA was delivering mobilisation orders around the city.
He entered University College Dublin in 1919.
His closest friend at college was Gerry MacAleer, from Dungannon, whom he had first met in Belvedere. Other friends included Frank Flood, Tom Kissane and Mick Robinson, who, unknown to many in the college, were, along with Barry, IRA volunteers.
He took part in a number of IRA operations in the years leading up to his capture. He was part of the unit which raided the Shamrock Works for weapons destined to be handed over to the R.I.C. He also took part in the raid on Mark’s of Capel Street, looking for ammunition and explosives. On 1 June 1920, under Vice-Commandant Peadar Clancy, he played a notable part in the seizing of the King’s Inn, capturing the garrison’s arms. The haul included 25 rifles, two light machine guns and large quantities of ammunition. The 25 British soldiers captured during the attack were released as the volunteers withdrew
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 truck arrived late, and was under the command of Sergeant Banks.
Barry and members of C Company were to surround the truck, disarm the soldiers, take the weapons, and escape. He covered the back of the truck, and when challenged, the five soldiers complied with the order to lay down their weapons. A shot was then fired Barry and the rest of the ambush party then opened fire One of the soldiers, was shot dead . Kevins gun jammed twice as more british soldiers arrived knowing that they were out numbered the I.R.A fled Kevin dived for cover under the truck He was then spotted by a passerby and they shouted out to the british soldiers , that he was hiding under the truck, then british soldiers arrested him.
Kevin Barry was placed in the back of the lorry with the body of Private Harold Washington, and Barry was subjected to some abuse by the british soldiers . He was transported then to the North Dublin Union.
On Saturday 30th October."
The affidavit, drawn up in Mountjoy Prison days before his execution, describes his treatment when the question of names was repeated:
He tried to persuade me to give the names, and I persisted in refusing. He then sent the sergeant out of the room for a bayonet. When it was brought in the sergeant was ordered by the same officer to point the bayonet at my stomach. . . The sergeant then said that he would run the bayonet into me if I did not tell. . . The same officer then said to me that if I persisted in my attitude he would turn me out to the men in the barrack square, and he supposed I knew what that meant with the men in their present temper. I said nothing. He ordered the sergeants to put me face down on the floor and twist my arm. . . When I lay on the floor, one of the sergeants knelt on my back, the other two placed one foot each on my back and left shoulder, and the man who knelt on me twisted my right arm, holding it by the wrist with one hand, while he held my hair with the other to pull back my head. The arm was twisted from the elbow joint. This continued, to the best of my judgment, for five minutes. It was very painful. . . I still persisted in refusing to answer these questions. . . A civilian came in and repeated the questions, with the same result. He informed me that if I gave all the information I knew I could get off.