Henry's Songbook

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Kevin Barry

  • (Trad / Terrence Ward)

            Another martyr for old Erin
            Another murder for the crown
            The British laws may crush the Irish
            But cannot keep their spirits down

    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 true man can deny
    As he walked to death that morning
    He proudly held his head on high

    Just before he faced the hangman
    In his dreary prison cell
    The British soldiers tortured Barry
    Just because he would not tell
    The names of all his brave companions
    And other things they wished to know
    Turn informer or we'll kill you
    Kevin Barry answered, No

    (as sung by The Clancy Bros & Tommy Makem)

    Tune: Rolling Home

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1956:] This is one of the best known of Irish rebel songs. Indeed, it was so popular in Ireland at one time that a young woman was said to have asked of her mother: "What used they sing before Kevin Barry?" Barry, an 18 year old student, was hanged as a rebel in Dublin on November 1, 1921 [sic!]; his martyrdom resulted in the greatly increased voluntary recruitment of his fellow students into the Irish Republican Army. There are several widely sung ballads about Kevin Barry. This one was written by Terrence Ward of The Irish Press. (Notes Clancy Bros, 'The Rising of the Moon')

  • [1975:] This song is said to have been so popular in the British Army during the Troubles that it had to be banned. (Faber Book of Ballads)

  • [1979:] Kevin was killed on Nov, 1 1920. The tune is taken from a sea shanty - Rolling Home. (Loesberg I, 57)

  • [1990:] Kevin Barry was hanged in Dublin on 1 November 1920 for his part in the attack on an army bread lorry, which led to the death of a soldier. It must seem surprising that an Irishman rebelling against British rule in general and the Black and Tans in particular should be sympathetically remembered by British soldiers, but this was indeed the case. Not only did many Irishmen serve in the British Army, but often their songs were adopted by their English, Welsh and Scots comrades. (Palmer, Lovely War 63)

  • [2000:] On the day Kevin Barry was arrested for the murder of Pte Matthew Whitehead the exam board at UCD decided the 18 year-old medical student had failed his first year. According to his nephew and biographer, Donal O'Donovan, Barry enjoyed his time at college and was fond of drinking and dancing. He also enjoyed holidays spent on the family dairy farm in Carlow and divided his time between there and 8 Fleet Street, Dublin, now home to House of Rock, a restaurant and bar. He was the fourth child of seven. At Belvedere College, Barry played the unusual combination of rugby and hurling.

    While most of his family were nationalists his older sister Cathy was actively involved in the republican movement. At 15, Barry joined the Irish Volunteers.

    At 11 a.m. on September 20th, 1920, Barry and three men ambushed a group of soldiers collecting bread from Monk's Bakery on North King Street. One soldier was killed, and two who were wounded died later. Kevin Barry was arrested at the scene with an automatic pistol. He was court-martialled and sentenced to death.

    The Archbishop of Dublin and the Lord Mayor of Dublin wrote to the British Prime Minister Lloyd George asking for a reprieve for Barry especially on account of his young age. The Inspector General of the Royal Irish Constabulary threatened to resign if a reprieve was granted. Barry, he said, was only a year younger than one of the men killed. Some 2,000 people gathered outside Mountjoy prison on November 1st, the morning of his execution. "Many of the women were in tears and even men displayed signs of emotion," an Irish Times report from the day said. Kevin Barry was the first person to be executed in Mountjoy Prison in nearly 20 years. An affidavit from Barry was read out in the House of Commons after the execution describing how he had been mistreated in custody.

    (Irish Times, 4 Nov -

Quelle: Ireland

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aktualisiert am 25.08.2000