26 November 2016
By Elaine Murphy
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada gave the main oration at the annual General Tom Barry Commemoration in Cork today.
Addressing the crowd the Ireland South MEP said both Barry and his wife Leslie de Barra (nee Price) were remarkable characters.
“He was a fearless guerilla fighter, an outstanding military tactician and as a leader of men he inspired the most unwavering trust and loyalty.
“But when speaking about any of the great Irish patriots who have left us, it is easy to get wrapped up in what they did rather than who they were. Yes; Tom Barry was a legendary revolutionary but he was first and foremost a beloved son, a brother to 13 siblings and a devoted husband.
“His wife, Leslie de Barra, nee Price, was an extraordinary woman in her own right. She was stationed in the GPO during Easter Week where she carried messages and ammunition between the main rebel buildings; a perilous task.
“A tireless humanitarian, she established the anti-hunger charity Gorta and went on to become President of the Irish Red Cross, being awarded the Henry Dunant Medal in 1979, the highest honour of the global Red Cross Movement.
“She and her husband were well matched.”
Speaking to the charcter of Tom Barry she urged those assembled there not to merely remember the man but to play their part in building the republic he dedicated his life to.
“It is just and right that men like Tom Barry are remembered and honoured, even if he personally would have rejected the notion that he did anything other than his duty.
“But what would Tom Barry say if he were here today; to see his country still divided and the bitter divisions of the Civil War that broke his heart still prevalent?
“What would he, by all accounts a modest and humble man, make of a gathering like this?
“Would he want such a broad body of his fellow countrymen and women to devote such potential and energy to eulogising him or would he urge you to look to the future, get involved and get to work building the republic he dreamed of?”