Kevin Barry

Melody - Seq. by Ron Clarke

In Mountjoy jail one Monday morning
High upon the gallows tree
Kevin Barry gave his young life
For the cause of liberty
But a lad of eighteen summers
Yet no one can deny
As he walked to death that morning
He proudly held his head on high.
Shoot me like an Irish soldier
Do not hang me like a dog
For I fought for Ireland's freedom
On that gray September morn
All around that little bakery
Where we fought them hand to hand
Shoot me like an Irish soldier
For I fought to free Ireland.
2. Just before he faced the hangman
In his dreary prison cell
British soldiers tortured Barry
Just because he would not tell
The names of his brave companions
And other things they wished to know
"Turn informer or we'll kill you"
Kevin Barry answered, "No"

3. Calmly standing to attention
While he bade his last farewell
To his broken hearted mother
Whose grief no one can tell
For the cause he proudly cherished
This sad parting had to be
Then to death walked softly smiling
That old Ireland might be free!

4. Another martyr for old Ireland
Another murder for the crown
Whose brutal laws may kill the Irish
But can't keep their spirit down
Lads like Barry are no cowards
From the foe they will not fly
Lads like Barry will free Ireland
For her sake they'll live and die.

The following was sent to me by Emmanuel Kehoe:

Kevin Barry isn't really a song of 1916. Barry was a young medical student who was a volunteer in the IRA in 1920. He was caught hiding under a truck after an ambush on British troops in Queen Street, Dublin. An old man who knew him told me his automatic pistol had jammed. A very young British soldier was shot in the ambush.

Barry came of quite a well off family from Hackettstown on the Carlow/Wicklow border. They ran a successful dairy business in Fleet Street, Dublin in what is now known as Temple Bar, a popular tourist area with many music pubs. Barry was hanged as a common criminal and was maltreated before his execution.

He was the first Irishman to be judicially executed by the British since the 1916 Rebellion (others were the victims of summary executions and torture, however). The execution had a profound influence on public opinion.

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