Barry, John (1845–1921), Fenian and MP, was born at Bannow, Co. Wexford, son of a local coastguard, who was later transferred to the north of England. He lived from an early age at Newcastle upon Tyne. In the 1860s he was chief commercial traveller for a large Scottish firm of linoleum manufacturers; by the 1870s he was living in Manchester with a thriving business of his own. Barry was a Fenian, a promoter of local Irish home rule associations in British industrial towns, and secretary of the Manchester Home Rule Association. He played the leading role in uniting twenty or so such associations to form, at a conference in Manchester presided over by Isaac Butt (qv), the Home Rule Confederation of Great Britain (January 1873); eighteen months later he became its secretary (June 1874). As a member of the supreme council of the IRB he was, with Joseph Biggar (qv) and Patrick Egan (qv), in a minority of three who, in a vote on 20 August 1876, opposed a resolution that support for home rule should cease; some months later he resigned (5 March 1877). Barry was instrumental in getting Butt replaced by Charles Stewart Parnell (qv) as president of the Home Rule Confederation of Great Britain at a conference held at Liverpool in August 1877. Elected to the house of commons as a member for Co. Wexford in April 1880, he was one of a small group of Irish home rule MPs who successfully proposed Parnell as chairman of the parliamentary party in place of William Shaw (qv).
In his parliamentary career Barry was seldom in the public eye, being often absent from Westminster on business affairs. He was, however, influential among his party colleagues and close to T. M. Healy (qv); he was distantly related to Healy, whom he had employed as a confidential clerk in his linoleum business, and who from 1878 had a financial interest in his firm, Barry, Ostlere & Co. of Kirkcaldy, Scotland. After the public hearing of the evidence adduced by William Henry O'Shea (qv) in his action for divorce, in which Parnell was cited as co-respondent (15 and 17 November 1890), Barry, long resident in Britain and no doubt greatly aware of the strength of English nonconformist feeling against Parnell, was one of the first home rule MPs to turn against him. It was he who proposed, on 26 November, another meeting of the parliamentary party after the publication of Gladstone's letter effectively calling for Parnell's resignation. During the committee room 15 debates on Parnell's leadership (1–6 December), Parnell referred to Barry as ‘the leader-killer who sharpens his poniard to stab me as he stabbed the old lion Isaac Butt’ (O'Brien, 318). After the split in the party, Barry lent £1,550 to the parliamentary fund of the anti-Parnellites and played a part in launching an anti-Parnellite newspaper, the National Press. He retained his seat at the next election (July 1892) but resigned towards the end of 1893.
Barry continued to take an interest in Irish politics, corresponding regularly with Healy. After 1916 he made no secret of his sympathies with Sinn Féin and subscribed generously to its funds. But his energies went into his business. At the time of his death, on 27 January 1921, he was head of Barry, Ostlere & Shepherd Ltd, and a JP. John Barry's wife was a Dwyer (forename not known) from Lismore, Co. Waterford; they had a son, Jack, and a daughter, Mary Frances.