Poem On Tom Barry, by Bobby Sands

Tom Barry was an acclaimed commander of the 3rd, West Cork Flying Column of the IRA, responsible for the famed Kilmichael Ambush which killed 18 British Auxillaries during the Black and Tan War. He was a solid tactician who fought on the Republican side during the ill-fated Civil War. He later supported the existence of militant Republicanism in the Occupied Six Counties (OSC). He died in 1980.

Bobby Sands is known and revered around the world as the leader of the second Republican hunger strike in the H-block prison in the OSC, in which 10 men died. He was an IRA POW who used the only weapon left to him in his war against the British Forces of Occupation, his body. He died in 1981.

Bobby wrote numerous poems and songs under very harsh conditions in prison. The following poem about one legendary Irish Republican figure, penned by another legendary Irish Republican figure, was published posthumously.

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

(the following audio is a tribute to both men, by Republican POWs in Maghaberry prison)