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Tom Barry

For Barry’s soul we prayed in hell,
Pathetic creatures adorned in pain,
And we never heard his requiem bell,
But our own — in torture’s livid strain.

In the southern realms of Munster world,
The humble whin bush sway,
Shedding yellow tears like child
For a legend passed away.

And they blow down lanes of time gone by,
O’er Crossbarry and Kilmicheal grave,
And resurrect a battle cry,
‘With Barry, boys be brave! ’

In dusky light, by mist, o’er hills they tread,
A column on the run,
The ghosts of fighters long since dead,
Yet n’er at rest, their guns still slung.

Now Barry leads them in the night,
Hardy souls of Cork Brigade,
To tramp the glens to morning light,
When their ghostly forms shall fade.

And we prayed tonight for Barry’s rest,
Would Barry e’er be free,
As he tramps across old Munster’s breast,
To blind eternity.

And in darkened shadows, ‘neath prison bars,
The hags of torture wave,
But we hear a voice that is of ours,
‘With Barry, boys be brave! ’

BOBBY SANDS was twenty seven years old when he died on the sixty sixth day of hunger-strike in the H-Block prison hospital, Long Kesh, on the 5th May 1981. The young IRA Volunteer who had spent almost the last nine years of his short life in prison as a result of his Irish republican activities was, by the time of his death, world-famous having been elected to the british parliament and having withstood pressures, political and moral (including an emissary from Pope John Paul II) , for him to abandon his fast which was aimed at countering a criminalisation policy by the british government. His name became a household word in Ireland, and his sacrifice (as did that of those who followed him) overturned british propaganda on Ireland and had a real effect in advancing the cause of Irish freedom.

*Tom Barry, an IRA commander in
the Tan War, died in July 1980

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Comments (2)

A wonderful tribute to Tom Barry written by Bobby Sands in prison, 'for Barry's soul we prayed in hell'
Tom Barry was my uncle, brother of my mother Maureen Barry. It is a cause of pride to see him celebrated this way by an Irish hero. Thank you.