Kevin Barry was executed on 1 November, 1920, at the age of 18.
In the words of the ballad:
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!'.
And so Kevin Barry stepped into Irish history as a martyr, partly
because of his young age, and partly to serve as an example to
others to be courageous, and to not reveal the names of other
>Subject: Kevin Barry
>Kevin Barry asks about his namesake Kevin Barry who was executed
>by the British, and about whom a well-known song was composed.
>My recollection of his story was that he was a teenager who
>bungled his first mission for the IRA, got caught and was executed.
>(This was during the Irish war against the British, 1920 or
>Kevin and a colleague (who escaped, I think) shot and killed two
>unarmed British soldiers who were delivering milk.
>Since such incidents were fairly common during this period,
>I'm not sure why Kevin should have been singled out to have a
>song written about him, except that he was quite young.
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