Barry, Charles Robert (1823–1897), lord justice of appeal and MP, was born 3 January 1823 in Limerick city, eldest son of James Barry, solicitor, of Limerick city, and his wife Ellen, daughter of James Purcell. He was educated at Dalton's School, Limerick, Midleton Foundation School, Co. Cork, and TCD, matriculating (1840) and entering King's Inns (1841) and Lincoln's Inn (1843), before being called to the Irish bar (1845). He went on the Munster circuit in 1848, where he quickly built up a lucrative practice. He was appointed first crown prosecutor in Dublin (1859–65) and law adviser to the crown (1865), and was elected liberal MP for Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, on 15 July 1865, defeating his tory opponent, Maj. William Palliser, by 112 votes to 94. Shortly afterwards, in his capacity as law adviser, he prosecuted some of the leaders of the Fenian movement, and most controversially, relied on what turned out to be the fabricated evidence of an informer, Pierce Nagle (d. 1879), who accused the Fenians, among other things, of plotting to murder catholic clergymen. He was appointed third serjeant-at-law in 1866, but mainly because of his prosecution of the Fenians lost his parliamentary seat when defeated by his tory opponent, Henry Matthews (who later became home secretary) by 155 votes to 105 (21 November 1868). He was successively solicitor general for Ireland (21 December 1868–January 1870) and attorney general for Ireland (26 January 1870–January 1872), and as such helped draft the Irish land act of 1870. In 1872 he was appointed fourth judge of the queen's bench division, and in 1878 was made a member of a royal commission which enquired into the provisions of the drafts made relating to indictable offences. He continued to serve as fourth judge until 1883, when he became lord justice of appeal for Ireland until his death.
His significance was essentially threefold. First and foremost, his foray into politics assumed great importance for a variety of reasons, not least his defeat at Dungarvan in 1868. Not only did this defeat involve nationalists voting for the tory candidate as a protest against Barry's role in the prosecution of Fenians, but arguably, it was the first act in the revolt of Irish nationalists against the old whig alliance, a revolt which only came to an end with Gladstone's famous ‘conversion’ to home rule in 1885. The Dungarvan campaign of 1868 also led to the fracturing of clerical opinion, with Barry gaining the explicit endorsement of Bishop Dominic O'Brien (1798–1873) of Waterford and Lismore and the covert support of Cardinal Paul Cullen (qv). Second, he pursued a highly successful legal career and enjoyed high profile cases as a barrister, not least in his successful prosecution of police officers who had killed people in the so-called ‘Sixmilebridge case’ (Co. Clare), but equally when on the bench, his role in the celebrated Dublin case of Fraser v. Gamble was widely remembered at the time of his death. Third, not only was he appointed to some of the highest legal offices in the land by Gladstone but he helped to draft the land act of 1870, which dealt with possibly the most sensitive aspect of public policy in Ireland.
His principal residences were in Limerick and at 3 Fitzwilliam Square East, Dublin. Barry never retired and died in his post as lord justice of appeal on 15 May 1897. He is buried in his native Limerick. He married (1855) Kate (d. 1886), third daughter of David (later Lord) Fitzgerald (qv), of Dublin; they had two sons.