Barrington, Charles (1834–1901), mountaineer and horseman, was born 5 October 1834, sixth son and ninth child of Edward Barrington of Fassaroe, Bray, Co. Wicklow, a well-to-do quaker farmer, and his first wife, Sarah (née Leadbeater) of Ballytore, Co. Kildare. Nothing is known of his childhood or how he came to be a sportsman; he is known, from his marriage certificate and his will, to have been a merchant. In 1860 he married Louisa Grubb (1836–1910), daughter of Samuel Grubb, a merchant, of Maryville, Cashel, and his wife Deborah (née Davis) of Waterford; they had at least three children, including sons named Manliff and Cecil, who outlived their father. The family home was at 18 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin.
Barrington was the first climber to reach the summit of the Eiger, on 11 August 1858. Twenty-four years later he described the climb in a laconic letter to his half-brother Richard Barrington (qv), also a mountaineer, which was published by the Alpine Journal of London. He seems to have undertaken the expedition on a whim: having just returned from an ascent of the Jungfrau, he fell into conversation at Grindelwald with two Swiss climbers, Christian Almer and Peter Bohren, who suggested he next try the Eiger. He engaged Almer and Bohren as his guides in spite of the vociferous opposition of their families and local people, who were aghast at their intention to try the ascent, believing the venture to be foolhardy in the extreme and likely to cost them their lives. They set out at 3.30 a.m. on 11 August without making more than the most rudimentary preparations. At the foot of the mountain Barrington surveyed the scene and decided, against the advice of his guides, to attempt a route on the western flank, which involved a stiff rock climb up a nearly perpendicular face. Barrington scrambled up 50 or 60 feet, carrying a rope and ‘sticking like a cat to the rocks’. The guides were then able to ascend by means of the rope and the three men continued to climb, marking the way with a trail of chalk and stones to help them on their return. They reached the summit at midday, Barrington taking first place, and planted a flag at the top. The descent, during which they narrowly avoided being overwhelmed by an avalanche, was made in four hours. On their return, the proprietor of the hotel where Barrington had stayed the preceding night fired a gun salute and the climbers were lionised by the other guests. ‘Thus ended my first and only visit to Switzerland,’ Barrington afterwards wrote. ‘Not having enough money with me to try the Matterhorn, I went home.’
In 1870 Barrington owned and trained Sir Robert Peel, the winner of the first Irish Grand National. In the same year he made sporting headlines for the last time when he donated a gold watch for a race up the Sugarloaf mountain near his birthplace in Fassaroe. He died 20 April 1901 at his home and was buried at Mount Jerome cemetery, Dublin. He had become a member of the Church of Ireland in 1860.