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Capture of Kevin Barry, War of Independence, 1920

By rareAdmin, Saturday, 20th September 2014 | 0 comments
Filed under: Today in Irish History.
















Today in Irish History: War of Independence, 1920, capture of Kevin Barry.

18 year old medical student Kevin Barry is captured following an ambush on British troops in Dublin in which one soldier is killed.

On the morning of 20 September 1920, Kevin Barry went to Mass and received Holy Communion, he then joined a party of 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 11AM which gave him enough time to take part in the operation and return to class in UCD in time for a Medical examination he had at 2PM.

Armed with a .38 Mauser Parabellum, 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; Terry Golway, author of For the Cause of Liberty, suggests it was possibly a warning shot from an uncovered soldier in the front. Barry and the rest of the ambush party then opened fire. His gun jammed twice, and he dived for cover under the truck. His comrades fled, and he was left behind. He was then spotted, and arrested by the soldiers.

On November 1st, 1920, he would become the first Irish rebel to be executed by Britain since the 1916 executions, thus cementing his place in history. Because of his refusal to speak under intense physical and mental torture, 18 year old Kevin was to be forever remembered. A ballad bearing his name relating the story of his execution is arguably the most famous Irish freedom ballad of the twentieth century. It has been sung by artists as diverse as Paul Robeson, Leonard Cohen and The Dubliners and is popular to this day.