A rare photograph of Irish hero Kevin Barry will be auctioned in Dublin this summer. The picture shows 15 year old Barry playing rugby for Belvedere College at Lansdowne Road.
Barry was hanged aged just 18, for his part in an ambush on British troops during the Irish War of Independence. His execution caused outrage amongst the Irish public, and inspired a folk song written and named in his honour.
The song became a regular part of any folk musicians’ set, and has been performed by Irish music heavyweights including the Dubliners, the Clancy Brothers and the Wolfe Tones, and even the Canadian singer songwriter Leonard Cohen.
The day before Barry was killed, he received a visit from his family. The prison chaplain questioned his mood to his mother saying: “This boy does not seem to realise he is going to die in the morning. He is so gay and light-hearted all the time. If he fully realised it, he would be overwhelmed.”
Mrs Barry replied, “Canon Waters, I know you are not a Republican. But is it impossible for you to understand that my son is actually proud to die for the Republic?”
Barry is considered a martyr in Ireland’s battle for independence in the early 20th century. He was honoured in 1970, when the Irish postal service issued stamps with his face on, to mark the 50th anniversary of his death.
Photos of Barry are very rare. One that shows his head and shoulders, with him wearing a rugby shirt, is the most commonly seen.
This photo was taken in 1917, and has been privately owned by descendants of Barry for nearly a century, but will now be sold by Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers who specialise in rare and historical memorabilia.
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