Kevin Barry memorial window relocated

A priceless stained-glass window commemorating teenage IRA volunteer Kevin Barry has been given a new home at his alma mater.

The historic artwork has been moved from the old University College Dublin campus on Earlsfort Terrace to take pride of place in Belfield more than 70 years after it first went on display.

Barry was an 18-year-old first-year medical student in the college when he was executed for his part in an IRA ambush which killed three British soldiers in the War of Independence in 1920.

UCD said the relocation marks the final stage of the its 41-year move out of the city centre.

Hugh Brady, president of UCD, said: “The final decision to bid farewell to Earlsfort Terrace prompted plenty of discussion and opinion in relation to the fate of the Kevin Barry Memorial Window.

“Perhaps because I was myself a medical student in the Terrace, I felt strongly that the window was – and is – an integral part of the heritage of the university.

“We have a role to play in providing the next generation with not just the symbols of our past, but a context in which to understand our history. I believe that this wonderful piece of art provides an important touchstone for that understanding.”

The double-glazed glass, by Richard King at the renowned Harry Clarke studios, depicts Barry in two panels alongside United Irishmen Robert Emmet and Lord Edward Fitzgerald and also shows Easter Rising leaders, Cuchulainn, the Battle of Clontarf and the Earls.

Some of Barry’s relatives and invited guests will attend a special unveiling by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn today in the college’s new Charles Institute. It was originally unveiled in 1934 by then President Eamon de Valera.

Barry was the first IRA volunteer to be executed since the 1916 rebel leaders.

In his last letter, written on the night before his hanging in Mountjoy, Barry wrote: “Well boys, we have seen some good times. It’s the only thing which makes it hard to go, the fact of leaving you chaps and other friends behind.”

It was bought for €105,000 at auction last year – seven times the guide price – by an unnamed son of one of Barry’s friends who had been mentioned in the letter.

A collection of memorabilia is held in UCD archives including copies of charge sheets, witness statements and summary of evidence relating to his court martial and execution, letters received by Mrs Barry after his execution and personal items such as his college cap, athletic suit and a sliotar.

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