West Cork Flying Column

Tom Barry

 

Tom Barry Photo

GENERAL TOM BARRY (1897-1980) guerrilla leader in the Irish War of Independence

He joined the British army in 1915, serving in Iraq in First World War. On being demobilized in 1919 and joined the IRA and established himself by organising and training the West Cork Flying Column, a highly mobile and disciplined unit. In November 1920 he commanded an ambush at Kilmichael that virtually wiped out a company of Auxiliaries, and at Crossbarry in March 1921 his column routed a superior force from the Essex Regiment. He took the Republican side during the Civil War and was imprisoned for some time in the Curragh. In 1927 he was appointed general superintendent with Cork Harbour Commissioners and held the post until his retirement in 1965.

Tom Barry MemorialIn 1938 he resigned from the IRA, as he disagreed with the proposed bombing campaign in England: he thought it had little prospect of success and would only cause the death of innocent civilians, and favoured instead action in the North. During the Second World War he served as operations officer with the Southern Command. Published Guerilla Days in Ireland (1949).When Liam Deasey published his version of events in 1973, Barry issued a pamphlet contradicting it, The Reality of the Anglo-Irish War, 1919–21 (1974). He died in a Cork hospital on 2 July 1980, survived by his wife, Leslie De Barra.

 

 

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