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Jaundiced portrait of a flawed man
on 17 December 2006
The book is well written but one cant help but feel that the authors own republican sympathies prejudice her writing and prevent her from penning a real critical account of Barry.
Barrys fame emanates from an ambush conducted on open ground when over a dozen Britiish servicemen were killed some in questionable circumstances. No prisoners were taken and there is still a whiff of controversey which Ryan never explains about the treatment of prisoners.
There is no explanation either of why he sought to conduct an ambush on open ground, risking his men against much superior well armed, highly trained forces.
The rest of the Barry life consisted in seeking a 32 county republic while he gamely ignored the plight of his people who were condemened to migration in order to have a decent way of life.
Barry could never reconcile himself to the one million unionists in Northern Ireland and seemed dazzled by 32 county republic. That said he was a brave man and Ryan does cast some new light on his earlier life but in some respects Barry remains a mystery, the former British soldier who joined the other side to kill his former comrades.
His story could be seen as a metaphor for Irelands, the former British soldier now a republican stalwart whose life always harked back to his deeds at the Kilmichael ambush but whose own account of the battle is far from clear.